Wheeler District: Will container homes dot the neighborhood?

Have you been to the new Ferris wheel in OKC? It’s actually an old Ferris wheel, imported from its original home on the Santa Monica pier in greater Los Angeles. It currently stands as a symbol of progress for ongoing development in OKC’s Wheeler District.

Located on the south side of the Oklahoma River, which roughly divides the city’s north and south sides, the Ferris wheel represents the northernmost point of what will eventually become a “mixed-use neighborhood development on the grounds of the former Downtown Airpark.”

From a NewsOK story interviewing developer Blair Humphries about the project:

Blair Humphreys said that he is looking at renovating the terminal building into a community hub (with more details to be revealed at a later time) and building a first phase of housing that will sell at an average price of $250,000 to $350,000. The zoning application also includes plans for what Humphreys calls “tiny homes” that might attract young couples and families just starting out.

Although I’ve made the case before that container home are not tiny homes per se, I did reach out to the Wheeler development crew to offer the services of High Cube Industries. Lo’ and behold they actually responded, albeit to say, in part, that other people had already contacted them about container homes potentially filling their tiny home allocations, but it was better than nothing. Additionally, they said those types of additions wouldn’t even begin until 2018, most likely, and maybe even later (and, in my mind, maybe not at all).

Containers already in use at Wheeler (kinda…)

Wheler District
The eastern-facing side of four containers near the ticket booth/concession stand for the Ferris wheel. (Josh McBee)

At any rate, I recently visited the area to check out the Ferris wheel. Didn’t go for a spin, but I did enjoy a bottled water in the shade of four 40-foot containers that have been welded together to form a shade wall/wind barrier for the little courtyard that serves as the Ferris wheel’s ticket sales/concession stand.

Wheeler District
The western-facing side of four containers form a barrier against wind and sun on the grounds of the Ferris wheel in OKC. (Josh McBee)

I imagine they’re the same containers that the various pieces of the wheel came in, but I don’t know that for sure. Still, I found myself in poignant reflection as I sat in their shadow, as if maybe their simple implementation signaled a true motivation upon the part of the developers to make good on their promises of eco-friendly urban development in the Wheeler District.

As the wheel spins on like a gear in a giant clock, only time will tell.