Rail Spur District
One of Edmond’s latest development projects not only brings something new to the city, but it also gives new life to some of the city’s most historic locations. The Rail Spur District, designed by developers Brandon Lodge and Chip Fudge, will add 14,000 square feet of restaurant and entertainment space to downtown Edmond, thanks partly to a $700,000 grant from the City.The City decided to assist with the project in part because the developers wanted to restore century-old buildings that were in need of repair.
“It’s capturing our history,” said Janet Yowell, executive director of the Edmond Economic Development Authority. “I think we should do that everywhere we can. There are downtown buildings that are being maintained, but to be able to take a 100-year-old structure that has so much history behind it and make it into a viable business is pretty cool.”
This is actually the second attempt for the project, Yowell said. Developers had approached the City a few years ago but found it cost-prohibitive because one of the existing buildings, the former Edmond Ice Company and Creamery, is on the National Register of Historic Places and trying to preserve a historic building like that is expensive. However, the developers recently approached the City again and this time around, the City offered incentives and support to help get the project going.
“This one is a perfect example of a project not happening at all unless we put some public money into it,” Yowell said.
Public feedback has been positive so far, Yowell said, with social media comments favoring the project. As part of the incentive process, the City had to take the idea through a public process, and Yowell said there was no opposition to the development.
Four Restaurants and an Event Center
The Rail Spur project, located on nearly three acres at Second Street on the west side of the Edmond railroad tracks, will have five structures, including four restaurants that will range from high-end to more casual, neighborhood-style eateries. The project also includes what used to be stables, which will be restored and serve as a small, private events center with a garden-type backyard area. Developers plan to use tax credits to aid in the restoration of the Ice House building and the stables. The City of Edmond is using city-owned property to create 82 additional parking spaces and adding landscaping and lighting to the parking area. The increased parking will be available for people visiting any location in downtown, not just the Rail Spur development, which Yowell hopes will make it easier to get around the area and address residents’ concerns about parking.
The project should be completed sometime in 2020, and will likely bring around 80 full-time jobs and 60 part-time positions to Edmond. The project may also contribute to a more vibrant downtown entertainment experience by attracting more people to the area and offering more options.
“When you get a combined group of restaurants you’ll get more people downtown, and we hope that the benefit will be more people coming downtown because there are a lot of options to choose from,” Yowell said. “If you can’t get into one you can just walk around the corner and get into another, and our hope is that all of those restaurants will have increased traffic.”