Why did OKC’s Plaza District decide to “popularise” the Coin Laundry?
For the last four years in my role as the Executive Director of the Plaza District, not a week has gone by without someone telling me what needs to go into the district next.
Moreover, not a day has gone by without me daydreaming about that as well. I’ve built an entire little city in my mind—it’s in this little city where I walk my dogs to the corner café for breakfast and coffee. Lunch breaks are spent grazing the fresh food market and chatting with shop owners. At 3pm I hit up the lemonade cart for my afternoon stroll. After work, friends are meeting up at one of the studios to draw together. On the weekend we hit up the various art, live music and performances happening in the district. Sunday night we picnic and enjoy an outdoor movie. Everything in this little city of mine is centered around creativity, collaboration, food and drink. All of those things that bring people together, all of those things that make a place…a place I want to be.
But that’s just my dream. Everyone’s dream is different. Our perceptions of what should be are all shaped by so much—our families, backgrounds, interests, economic situations, health and attitudes all play a part in shaping what we need and want.
I came across Popularise just a couple months before the Coin Laundry was purchased—and it was love at first sight. Wow. A resource that allowed the community to tell the developer what they’d like to see next, and allowed people to show off the places they’d loved in other cities. A place where neighbors could voice what is needed, and entrepreneurs a place to test out their ideas.
So when the Coin Laundry was purchased, I pitched it to the owners. I knew they genuinely cared to know what the community wanted. I knew the Plaza District needed to see all of these ideas and the community’s response to them, and I knew the community cared enough to tell us those ideas. Our sponsor Fowler VW was so excited about the idea and how important it could be for the district, they came on board with rent support for the business we end up finding. It’s that sort of teamwork—neighbors, developers, sponsors, business owners and leaders that make good stuff happen for the neighborhood.
Twenty years ago, if you had asked someone what should be built in the Plaza District, you probably would’ve gotten “a police station” as a response.
But in 3 weeks, here we are with 38 ideas, 300 “build-it’s”, 11,000 views and the closest response to a police station might have to be the gourmet donut shop.
It’s not through yet! Continue to give us your ideas—for the building and the district. Let us know what’s truly on your minds for the future of this neighborhood.
Nothing happens without vision, dreams and ideas, but reality has to step in at some point to make those dreams happen. Next week, I’ll dive a little more into the process, realities and what users and small businesses can expect from their involvement and the future of the Coin Laundry.
Stay tuned, and keep those ideas coming!