Strong Neighborhoods Initiative

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Residents in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of South Oklahoma City are taking an active role in the revitalization of their community.

Through the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI), residents, organizations and businesses are working together with the city of Oklahoma City to improve their neighborhood with physical, social and economic investments.

The greater Capitol Hill area was approved as a SNI neighborhood in December 2017. Early in 2018, Shannon Entz with the City Planning office conducted two public meetings to allow residents and business owners to express concerns and identify needs, said Donna Cervantes, former director of Historic Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill is the first neighborhood south of the Oklahoma River to be named a SNI grant recipient, which will bring approximately $3 million in public funds and is likely to attract nearly three times as much in private funds.

“Capitol Hill residents and concerned citizens identified housing, community services, infrastructure and business and economic development as the area’s most pressing needs in the meetings,” Cervantes said. “These were drafted into the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy.”

The Capitol Hill SNI program officially opened July 1, 2018. Since then, the city has, among other activities, opened up the 2018-2019 Neighborhood Project Grant, a $5,000 grant for a project that provides public benefits.

The strong focus in the near-term is on housing, and SNI is already working with local providers. Another goal for the future is to find a community center for the area to serve youth, seniors and small businesses. Potential partners have been identified.

Also, residents are looking to develop a public plaza.

“The Capitol Hill Board applied for and was accepted under the OU Institute for Quality Communities to do a study of the vacant property in the district and identify best uses and potential for a plaza,” Cervantes said.

“SNI is all about revitalization of the neighborhood,” Cervantes said. “The overall objective is to tip the neighborhood toward vitality and self-sufficiency through investment.”