Oklahoma City Mayor tours Blackstone with city planners

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The City of Omaha continues its discussion on the possibility of streetcars in the city. Mick Cornett the Mayor of Oklahoma City visited the metro Wednesday for a tour of the downtown area. Mayor Cornett led one of the most successful revitalization efforts in the country which included a new streetcar system in his city.

Decades ago, there were streetcars in Omaha, and now, city officials are discussing the possibility of bringing them back.

It’s in the advanced conceptual engineering stage – that’s scheduled to wrap up the end of October, beginning of November. We are still looking at it,” said Omaha Planning Director Dave Fanslau.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, city officials and developers walked around the Blackstone area Wednesday morning. They were finding ways to make the city more pedestrian friendly. City officials have changed Farnam from one-way to two-way traffic. It’s slowed traffic in the Blackstone area. Mayor Cornett says things have to change because many cities are trying to attract the same people.

“We’re all competing for those highly educated 20-somethings and they’re looking for a more urban environment that my generation was in. In my day, we would move to the suburbs and that was kind of the end of it," said Cornett

People are attached to the Blackstone area and they’re also attracted down Farnam Street to Midtown Crossing. President for East Campus Realty Joe Schmidt says people are walking back and forth between Midtown Crossing and the Blackstone neighborhood. He says a streetcar here would be a game changer.

“If you look at Kansas City, if you look at some of the other areas. Portland is another example where they put in streetcars the economic development around that streetcar is in the billions,” said Schmidt.

The Blackstone District continues to grow and city officials continue to figure out ways to bring more people to all of this new development.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was the keynote speaker for MAPA’S Annual Council of Officials meeting Wednesday.