A local firm plans to break ground on a retail shopping location in Historic Downtown Edmond this month.
Koorosh Zahrai, vice president of business development for Plaza U.S.A., L.L.C., an Edmond-based business development firm, said his company will open and manage a more than 15,000-square-foot mixed-use retail and office building at 118 N. Broadway in Edmond.
He said the facility will house about 17 unique businesses, and possible offerings there include a women’s clothing boutique, a gelato eatery, and a coffee shop.
He said that while nearly half the available space in the more than 15,000-square-foot facility has already been leased, designated space for offices and retail businesses will be about “fifty-fifty.”
Historical architecture meets ‘new urbanism’
Zahrai said the building’s overall look, which Oklahoma City-based architect firm Studio Architecture designed “from scratch,” will keep in line with Historic Downtown’s existing aesthetic.
He said Studio’s George Winters and John Postic used examples from the downtown areas of Edmond and Guthrie to create what he called “a beautiful piece of art.”
The building’s designs call for black aluminum mullion storefront packaging, black colored frames for storefronts and office windows, and black iron canopies overhanging the sidewalk, he said, adding that all elements will be tied together with “handmade Oklahoma brick.”
Zahrai said Winters and Postic “came up with something unique and beautiful, like a ‘new historic building.’”
However, Zahrai said the historic look will only accent its eco-friendly construction and “all the new bells and whistles of new architectural design.”
Zahrai said businesses in the past incorporated all aspects of their operations into one type of building, but that in today’s changing economy, “businesses are a mix of both” retail, office and residential elements.
“We’re embracing the principle that ‘new urbanism’ is here,” Zahrai said.
Riding a renaissance
Zahrai, a longtime Edmond resident, said businesses were fleeing Edmond for a long time until 2009, when the City of Edmond completed a “major facelift” project on its Historic Downtown district.
Since then, “businesses have expanded their offerings, and private owners have expanded their spaces,” he said, adding that the city has expanded its infrastructure to add “brick pavers, historic lamp lighting and a beautiful clock” to the downtown district.
Zahrai said Plaza U.S.A. had many reasons to build in Downtown Edmond, not least of which were Edmond’s place as his hometown and the location of his business, merged with its low unemployment rate and high levels of education.
“Edmond is the place to be,” he said.
Back to the drawing board
Zahrai said Plaza U.S.A. got approval to build from the Central Edmond Urban Development Board earlier this year. However, despite enthusiasm on the project from the Edmond City Council in their May hearing, he said they denied Plaza U.S.A. a parking variance, and, thus, building and business permits.
Undeterred, he said Studio Architecture then “redesigned the architecture from the ground up,” adding 29 new parking spaces to the plans. Zahrai said the city council in their Sep. 8 meeting saw the new plans and heard vocal support from Downtown Edmond Business Association. The council approved the permits by a 3-2 vote.
Since then, Zahrai has pushed his “commitment to the citizens and residents of Downtown Edmond” by offering shopping choices to locals and by keeping this project Oklahoma-based.
“We wanted the prettiest, biggest, most beautiful building in Downtown Edmond,” said Zahrai. He said it will soon be a “showpiece for Downtown Edmond to showcase all the things Oklahoma has to offer.”