Travel to U.S.: Oklahoma: Norman 8: The National Accounts Move In
Yes, Norman has a mall and even a power center.
About 1980, the Sooner Fashion Mall was planted at the corner of Main Street and Interstate 35.
The mall sagged badly in the late '90s, when its shed-style trusses began to look cheap. Worse, big-box category-killers were hatching just to the south. Time for a sprucing-up? You bet. This, then, is the "before" shot.
The "after" shot, shortly before completion. Higher roof, more light. New floor, tile. Takes a grouch to complain, but don't you expect to head down the concourse, turn left, and find Gate 29A on your right? And what happened to rents? Go ask the independent merchants, replaced by national accounts.
South of the mall, Ed Noble Parkway runs between Interstate 35 and a big-box and casual-dining lineup.
The strip here is part of a long story going back to a developer's hope to build a mixed-use neighborhood masterplanned by William Pereira. It didn't happen, but this lake is a vestige of those ambitions.
The developer lost control of the land, which became a power center.
The lake just sat there for years, often just mud.
Next to it, a restaurant went up, but the customers couldn't see the water. That would have been nice, but the builder was in a hurry and didn't have time to customize his floorplan.
Twenty years later, in 2009, a lakeside restaurant was finally under construction.
That was the exception; this was the norm.
Office Max, Barnes and Noble, Just for Feet, Old Navy: millennial America.
Note the canopies, suggesting a merchant with apron and boater.
There are close to a dozen restaurants. Steaks. Chili. Salads with iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. It's hard to knock the landscaping and the brave effort to create a patio in this environment, fifty yards from a NAFTA-corridor highway, heavy with longhaul trucks. There was even heavy-duty misting from the pergola, to cool the otherwise blistering summer days. The restaurant folded and was replaced by a seafood chain which got rid of the patio.
Sometimes, when life gets a little arid, Normanites seek authentic culture.
Entrance to same. Corrugated-steel tank and misdirected pump. The handrail is a lily-livered concession to the litigious.
More of the entrance. Stock tank (sans stock) and mighty serious waterline (sans water).
A triumphal arch? Not far short of it, especially considering that this superstore was rammed down the community's throat. It stands alongside Interstate 35, so passersby en route to Dallas or Kansas City can see that Norman is a plugged-in kinda place.
New fields to conquer? You bet. Lindsey Street ended here, with traffic turning right to the power center and, a mile to the north, Sooner Mall. This is a historic picture, though, because Lindsay now blazes through here. Nice woodland? Not for long: builders have plans.
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