West Park project complete in Tulsa's Kendall-Whittier neighborhood
By: Mike Averill
For Claire Theriot, a single mom, preschool teacher and college student, the new West Park apartments are a blessing.
“None of those factors add up to being an exceptionally wealthy person,” she said. “With this I’m able to give my child the childhood he deserves in a beautiful home. His backyard is a newly remodeled beautiful park. We have great neighbors.”
The George Kaiser Family Foundation celebrated the completion of the West Park development project Thursday.
The $36 million project was designed to provide affordable housing and to reinvigorate the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood.
“There has been so much commitment and energy to revitalizing Kendall-Whittier for three decades, and we were happy to join it,” said Ken Levit, the foundation’s executive director. “We’ve worked hard at Educare and (Tulsa Public Schools) and Kendall-Whittier to do everything in the education zone. We also recognized as part of our strategy to intervene in the cycle of poverty that it’s not all about education, and kids live in a much larger context than just their school day.”
The West Park apartments include 128 mixed-income housing units, 20 student-housing units occupied by University of Tulsa students, and 7,000 square feet of office and management space, as well as the renovation of the existing neighborhood park.
Renovations and improvements to the neighborhood park include new play areas, new trails and lighting, an enlarged splash pad, and a new West Plaza with a water feature and pavilions.
An added benefit for Theriot, who teaches at the Kendall-Whittier Educare Center, is that she lives among many of the families of the children she teaches.
“We serve children in poverty, and I’m right there on the same level as them. It’s built a really good relationship between me and the families because I see them at the grocery store, at the park. It’s been a great experience,” she said. “It’s definitely built a lot of trust.”
Of the 128 units, 70 are market-rate and 58 are income-restricted.
The project was funded by the Kaiser foundation, the University of Tulsa, the city of Tulsa, state low-income tax credits and financing secured by McCormack Baron Salazar, a national developer that specializes in revitalizing economically distressed urban areas.
The renovated area, between Lewis and Atlanta avenues and Fourth and Fifth streets, was originally designated the West Park Urban Renewal Area by the Tulsa Development Authority.
“When a neighborhood decides to change direction and those dominos start falling, they start falling quickly,” City Councilor Blake Ewing said. “Neighborhoods don’t want to not achieve their potential. Sometimes they need some support a friend in order to get there. I think this really speaks to what happens when great collaboration is at work.”
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