Midwest lowdown

W.P. Atkinson saw the writing on the wall that the U.S. War Department likely was going to build a maintenance and supply depot. He began scooping up land north of the proposed site, and on April 8, 1941, the order was signed to set up the depot. The Midwest Air Depot opened, and on March 11, 1943, the city of Midwest City was incorporated. Today, the city is home to about 55,000 residents.

Later, the base was posthumously named for Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker, who was an Oklahoman killed in action during World War II. The base, including the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, is 5,500 acres comprising 463 buildings. More than 30,000 members of the military and civilians are employed at the base.

EDUCATION
Midwest City is home to Rose State College and the Mid-Del School District, which includes the Mid-Del Technology Center.

Rose, which began as Oscar Rose Junior College, held its first classes in the fall of 1970. Initial enrollment was 1,700. The college now has an average enrollment of more than 8,000 students. The more-than 40 degree programs offer students a wide array of educational options. The Rose State Performing Arts Center on campus hosts nationally known entertainment acts. In the past year, the center has featured a diverse set of performances from musicians Jewel and Roy Clark to comedian Brian Regan and author, humorist and public-radio mainstay David Sedaris.

Mid-Del Schools serves Midwest City and Del City. The district includes about 1,800 employees and about 14,600 students. It is the largest employer in the city. On Sept. 13, voters in the district approved a $90.5 million bond issue by 81% to build two new elementary schools and make upgrades to every school and facility in the district. In December, a $190.9 million school bond issue narrowly was defeated.

HEALTH CARE
Midwest City is home to Midwest Regional Medical Center near the intersection of Reno Avenue and Midwest Boulevard.

It began in 1962 as Midwest City Memorial Hospital. In 1986, a tower was built and named Mulinix Tower, after former hospital CEO William D. Mulinix. In 1988, the hospital name was changed to Midwest City Regional Hospital. The tower grew over the years, and in August

2010, a $25 million project was completed to add two floors to bring Mulinix Tower to eight stories. On one floor is the Oklahoma Regional Heart Institute.

Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates Inc. owns and manages the hospital. The hospital also has doctors’ offices and clinics around town.

Mercy Midwest City opened in September at 111 N. Post Road.

MIDWEST CITY SHERATON-REED CONFERENCE CENTER
On May 3, 1999, a large tornado tore through the area around S.E. 15th Street and Sooner Road. In its wake, the city constructed the Midwest City Sheraton and the attached Reed Conference Center.

The facilities were owned and operated by the municipal authority until August. After several years of losing money, the city maintains ownership, but signed a management deal with Aimbridge Hospitality based in Dallas.

The Sheraton has 151 guest rooms, and the conference center includes 13,780 square feet of event space, 6,000 square feet of exhibit hall space and 13,000 square feet of pre-function space and outside event space.

RETAIL
Outside the gates of Tinker on the north side of Interstate 40, beginning at Air Depot and running east, is the sprawling Town Center Plaza. Owned by the city and managed by Sooner Investment, the center has lured big-box tenants such as Best Buy, Target, Lowe’s and Kohl’s. In outparcels along S.E. 29th Street, shoppers can find national brands such as Starbucks, Steak ’n Shake, Jack in the Box and Panera Bread.

It sits on 83 acres that
was previously a blighted residential area. It was redeveloped by the
city of Midwest City through the Midwest City Hospital Authority in a
partnership with Sooner Investment.

One
question mark remains: the fate of the now-closed Heritage Park Mall at
the intersection of Reno Avenue and Air Depot Boulevard. Built in 1978,
the mall thrived for years and was home to a theater, Service
Merchandise, Dillard’s and Montgomery Ward. In February 2010, the mall
closed. The only remaining store was Sears.

In
May, investor Ahmad Bahreini purchased the mall for $1.3 million. He
already owned other areas of the site. The sale included the Whataburger
outparcel. The Sears store is still owned by its parent company, and
the former Dillard’s is owned by Life Covenant Church Inc. In 2004,
Bahreini purchased the shuttered Montgomery Ward space for $880,000. He
has plans to complete deferred maintenance at the mall and look at
future retail options.

One question mark remains: the fate of the now-closed Heritage Park Mall.

Photos by Mark Hancock

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