Kendall Whittier Main Street Earns National Revitalization Award
30 Oct 2020
Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS) in Tulsa is one of three winners of the 2020 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA), which recognizes communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservation-based commercial district revitalization. Selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS) is being recognized for turning an area of decades-long blight into a lively hub for arts and culture. KWMS is Oklahoma’s 6th GAMSA winner.
“Kendall Whittier exemplifies the power of the Main Street Approach to truly transform a district,” said National Main Street Center President and CEO Patrice Frey. “In just 10 years, Kendall Whittier Main Street has radically changed the perception of their neighborhood and become the center of community life for its residents.”
Kendall Whittier was a bustling shopping district from the late 1920s through the 1950s, but when a highway bisected the neighborhood in 1967, the area struggled to recover. By the early 2000s, the neighborhood was known as Tulsa’s red-light district– home to vacant storefronts and adult-oriented businesses. When KWMS got its start in 2010, the district had a 35 percent occupancy rate. Thanks to community-led business recruitment and retention efforts, occupancy has grown to 100 percent today. Kendall Whittier is now home to a mix of galleries, breweries, restaurants, and non-mainstream retail. In all, KWMS has seen a total of 350 jobs created and $158 million private dollars reinvested.