Positively Paseo is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit community housing development organization, or CHDO, working to revitalize the Paseo Historic District, Classen Ten Penn, and Classen's North Highland Parked neighborhoods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Positively Paseo’s mission is to revitalize urban OKC neighborhoods and create affordable housing opportunities by rehabilitating historic homes, new home construction, and increasing community investment through home ownership.
Like other inner-city Oklahoma City neighborhoods, Paseo, Classen Ten Penn, and Classen’s North Highland Parked suffered in the 1970's and 80's when development began in the suburbs and drew families away from the center of the city. This suburban flight led to urban blight - leaving behind large swaths of vacant, boarded up blocks. Homes deteriorated and crime moved in. The economic recession of the 1980's led to further deterioration with the end result being a nearly abandoned inner city.
With some of the homes dating back to the Land Run of 1889 and neighborhoods designed by G.A. Nichols in the early 1900's, it is important to save these historic buildings and make these neighborhoods safe again for families. So began the work of Positively Paseo...
In the mid 1980's residents of Paseo and surrounding historic neighborhoods joined forces with area church officials, non-profit community associations, local bankers, and commercial property owners to set in place a plan to revitalize the Paseo neighborhood. Backed by an endorsement from a study by the Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C., Positively Paseo was formed to lead the way in housing rehabilitation. With a focus on owner-occupancy, staff and volunteers began to renovate deteriorated single-family homes and build new homes on long vacant lots. Initial funding sources included bank loans and federal grants administered by the City of Oklahoma City.
This work began more than 20 years ago and because of patience and perseverance, the Paseo Historic District (as it is now known) has undergone a renaissance. Property values have stabilized, criminal activity has all but vanished, and a strong neighborhood association continues to unite neighbors. It is because of this success that Positively Paseo has joined forces with Classen Ten Penn and Classen’s North Highland Parked residents in order to model the work that has been done in Paseo in two other deteriorated inner-city Oklahoma City neighborhoods.
The Classen Ten Penn neighborhood has a long history and, by some accounts, served as a home for at least one famous writer - Ralph Ellison. Today, the neighborhood boasts another famous resident, Wayne Coyne, of the band The Flaming Lips. A thriving commercial and arts district - The Plaza District - serves as the heart of the neighborhood. All locally-owned, the district is home to six restaurants, a beauty salon, art galleries, a dance studio, a coffee shop, an artisan ice cream shop, a painting studio, a midwifery, a tattoo parlor, retro and vintage shops, and The Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma's only professional year-round musical theatre company. On the second Friday of each month, LIVE on the Plaza hosts a family-friendly event.
Classen’s North Highland Parked, located immediately adjacent to the Oklahoma State Capitol, is centrally located in Oklahoma City with proximity to workplaces such as the OU medical complex, the Devon Tower, and the new GE development. The neighborhood is just steps away from Oklahoma City’s growing downtown, near amenities like Bricktown, the Arts Distict, and the Boathouse District. Architects such as Jewell Hicks, who designed the Oklahoma Capitol, influenced the mainly Prairie School style homes, Craftsman homes, and large bungalows that make-up the neighborhood. Significant buildings such as the Harn House and Walcourt Building, both listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, are historic anchors in the neighborhood.
Paseo, Classen Ten Penn and Classen’s North Highland Parked are undoubtedly ethnically and economically diverse hubs of Oklahoma City and certainly neighborhoods to watch - maybe even places to call your next home...