Downtown Muskogee Landscape of Hope

IQC and the OU-Tulsa Urban Design Studio collaborated with the City of Muskogee and partners in the community to provide a master plan vision for downtown.

Muskogee, Oklahoma | Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
View the Final Report Below

Downtown Muskogee is an important place at the heart of a region of more than 70,000 people. In recent years, a number of efforts have brought new life and activity to downtown Muskogee. A 2010 Oklahoma Main Street resource team visit led to ideas for wayfinding and the Depot District that have made substantial progress. Engagement efforts by the group Action in Muskogee created momentum for a number of projects citywide. An impressive network of bicycle trails and lanes is emerging, and a farmers market improves healthy options downtown. The Muskogee Little Theater now brings cultural life downtown. New restaurants and retail shops have opened in renovated historic buildings downtown. Gateway markers and wayfinding signs now mark the important locations of downtown.

The 2012 Comprehensive Plan for the City of Muskogee recommended that the City work cooperatively with downtown stakeholders to create a Downtown Master Plan. In summer 2016, City of Muskogee officials began pursuing such an effort. After contacting the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture’s Urban Design Studio and Institute for Quality Communities, the City of Muskogee guided a master planning effort spanning nearly a year with hundreds of contributors. This document is the result of that collaboration, titled Downtown Muskogee: A Landscape of Hope.

Feedback and insight from Muskogee residents has been incredibly important to this process and document. A stakeholder committee formed in August is made up of downtown leaders and public officials. The committee has held monthly public meetings to guide the OU College of Architecture design team. In addition, the design team visited Muskogee events like the Farmers Market to talk with residents, and a public meeting in November attracted more than 100 participants to provide input to this plan. An OU researcher on the concept of hope conducted a survey of nearly 400 residents to help the team structure a plan document that follows the language of hope.

Throughout this process, five key priorities emerged, and the design team focused on recommendations presented in this document in chapters based on the following topics:

  • Increase activity downtown to create a more lively and vibrant atmosphere. This chapter focuses on attracting key groups of people to downtown, managing parking downtown, and implementing a grant program to achieve goals.
  • Make better connections to enable walking and biking between destinations downtown. This chapter focuses on prioritizing streets for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including a road diet on Main Street, a new plaza configuration at Third and Okmulgee, conceptual cross-sections for Broadway Street, and proposed improvements along Elgin Street.
  • Save historic buildings to preserve Muskogee’s heritage and legacy. This chapter presents an overview of challenges, potentials, and successes of historic preservation in Muskogee, and identifies high-opportunity buildings and places that should be preserved.
  • Introduce green spaces that are active and well utilized to provide public space and greenery downtown. This chapter includes concepts for a new programmed green space on Broadway, a planned park for the Depot District, and ideas to reduce paved areas downtown.
  • Revitalize Arrowhead Mall to complement the experience of spending a day downtown. This chapter presents a range of conceptual developments for the Arrowhead Mall site created by OU design students, and reveals some best practices to keep in mind as the mall’s future evolves.

There are many possibilities on the horizon as downtown Muskogee continues to evolve. Citizens and stakeholders should continue to stay engaged as the City of Muskogee works with partner organizations to refine and implement the concepts in this plan. In addition, this plan should be reviewed, revised, or amended over time as required.

More Content

Muskogee Final Presentation

On Saturday, April 29, students from the OU design and planning team presented findings of the study to a public audience. A video of the presentation is below. The full text of the plan document will be available in the coming...

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The Muskogee Hope Survey

This week I had some time away from my busy schedule to reflect on the hope that I had for the future of Muskogee. Before the start of this project, I honestly

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Do you have ideas for the Muskogee Green?

Have you seen the artsy blue idea box in downtown Muskogee? It is planted in the green space between Third Street and Fourth Street on Broadway. We are wanting to reach out to you, the community, to get your input on what you would like to see in this green space....

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Arrowhead Mall Design Competition

The OU College of Architecture has kicked off a design competition focusing on the connections between Arrowhead Mall, an urban renewal era project, and downtown Muskogee. The group of 30 faculty, staff, and students traveled to Muskogee February 1 to kick off the...

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Muskogee Site Visit

We traveled to Muskogee Wednesday with a group of 30 faculty, staff, and students to kick off a design competition focusing on the connections between Arrowhead Mall, an urban renewal era project, and downtown Muskogee. Students in Dr. Sarah Little's landscape...

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What’s in the Future for Arrowhead Mall?

Next week, on February 1st, 26 students studying landscape architecture, architecture, and interior design will descend on Downtown Muskogee. They are the participants of unique design competition to revitalize the mall.

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Steering Committee Minutes, January 4

Muskogee Downtown Plan Steering Committee Minutes January 4, 2017, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Non-Profit Resource Center 207 North 2nd Street, Muskogee, OK 74401 Committee Members Present: Gary Garvin – City of Muskogee Director of Planning...

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Steering Committee Minutes, Dec 7

Muskogee Downtown Plan Steering Committee Meeting December 7, 2016, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Non-Profit Resource Center 207 North 2nd Street, Muskogee, OK 74401 Members Present Wren Stratton, Committee Chair – Depot District Darla Bennett –...

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Community Hope Workshop

On November 15, we held a Community Hope Workshop to gather feedback and ideas for the future of downtown Muskogee. More than 100 Muskogee residents from all corners of the city showed up at the Martin Luther King Center to help us in this effort. At the center,...

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Steering Committee Minutes, Nov 2

Muskogee Downtown Plan Steering Committee Meeting November 2, 2016, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Non-Profit Resource Center 207 North 2nd Street, Muskogee, OK 74401 Members Present Wren Stratton, Committee Chair – Depot District Ann Barker Ong –...

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Small City Urban Renewal and Central Malls

Urban renewal policies of the mid-20th Century were not limited to major cities. Regional cities and small towns also implemented urban renewal programs. This post shows five cities of under 100,000 in population that built central shopping malls as part of Urban...

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Central Muskogee Population

As in many cities, the central part of Muskogee has lost population over the last several decades. In the 1970 Census, four central neighborhoods accounted for 18,000 people- Nearly half of Muskogee's 1970 population of 37,000. However, by 2010, the Census showed a...

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Anything Can Happen, If You Let It

Anything can happen, if you let it. That was the message from Mary Poppins at the premiere opening of the Muskogee Little Theater this weekend. The sellout crowds enjoyed wonderful performances from the local cast and crew in a beautiful, brand new theater anchoring downtown’s re-imagined Depo District.

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A Downtown that Benefits the People

Downtown Muskogee Illustrated Plan Professor Lanny Endicott’s Social Work class from Oral Roberts University visited the Urban Design Studio this Saturday. They come every year about this time to learn about the social issues of urban planning. We took advantage of...

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Steering Committee Minutes, Oct 5

Muskogee Downtown Plan Steering Committee Meeting October 5, 2016, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Non-Profit Resource Center 207 North 2nd Street, Muskogee, OK 74401 Members Present Hon. Wayne Johnson – City Councilor and Downtown Muskogee...

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Muskogee: A Fresh Perspective

I have only visited Muskogee a handful of times until recently. It wasn’t that I disliked Muskogee but it just wasn’t on my radar. So, as an outsider, why is it that I find myself thinking about Muskogee all the time now? It is because I am a graduate student at The University of Oklahoma (OU) in Architectural Urban Studies.

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Downtown Muskogee: A Landscape of Hope

Symbolic Sequence of Planning Process We call this planning effort Downtown Muskogee: A Landscape of Hope. What is a hopeful city? How is hopefulness of a people related to the growth of a town? Can we make a plan based on hope? Collective hope is not the same as...

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Where are all the residents?

Migration of Workers into Downtown Muskogee According to Longitudinal Economic Household Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 4,700 jobs in Downtown Muskogee, yet only a little over 400 people make the city center their home. A mere twenty-one...

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