By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Amy Jo Frazier supped at a downtown Stillwater restaurant last week. After her meal, she walked down the city sidewalks to see the inner city in a new light.
Frazier just completed her first week as Stillwater’s Business Improvement District No. 1 Coordinator. Downtown Stillwater isn’t foreign to Frazier, who has been the city Parks and Rec Department’s aquatics, concessions and events coordinator since 2006.
And Stillwater is old hat for the Oklahoma State University graduate who worked in the athletics department in facilities and events management for 13 years.
The familiar looked new, she said. She saw downtown Stillwater with fresh eyes — a different perspective. The walk led to the realization that downtown Stillwater is becoming a residential, entertainment, business district, and that it was now her job to keep that transition going.
“When I first came into this office before I even had a desk, I was looking through some old pictures from before it was a BID district,” Frazier said. “There were some incredible photos of buildings from years and years ago. Then, I looked as some new ones from the last few years. It’s just incredible to see the difference between 30 years ago and now.”
Downtown Stillwater’s history is important, Frazier said, but it’s role is transitioning from a business district to a place where people can live, work, shop and play.
“It’s starting to encompass everything. It has become a happening place,” she said. “It offers everything and we are going to continue expanding on that.”
Stillwater City Manager Dan Galloway promoted Frazier when he moved former BID Coordinator Angela McLaughlin to the newly created position of economic director of consumer business development. McLaughlin will be recruiting new retailers and restaurants to Stillwater.
McLaughlin and the downtown Stillwater merchants and businesses have laid a solid foundation for the BID. It is her job to build from that foundation, Frazier said. Will she follow McLaughlin’s blueprints for a successful BID? Yes, for the most part, Frazier said.
Downtown Stillwater was fading away before the BID was created in 2007 and McLaughlin, working with downtown merchants and businesses started a renaissance, Frazier said.
“Back then you had no trouble finding a parking place and now you do. Visually, it was completely different,” Frazier said.
Don’t expect, Frazier said, a drastic departure from blueprints, but some revisions are possible and probable.
“I have some different ideas. I have different experiences that she does. Sometimes, I think it’s a good thing to get a fresh look on something that is as important to the city as downtown,” Frazier said. “I’m really excited.”
McLaughlin’s office is a few steps down the hall, Frazier said, envisioning a certain amount of synergy between the offices.
“Her new job is to recruit restaurants and retail to Stillwater and that includes the BID,” Frazier said. “The BID still has me that will be absolutely focused on downtown Stillwater … but, in addition to that, Angela is going to be working on economic development. They will still be able to utilize her expertise. It’s almost like a two-for-one deal for the BID,”
Frazier completed her first week as BID coordinator Friday. She hasn’t had time to get her boxes unpacked or organize her office. She’s meeting with BID members and planning downtown events — like the free game-day parking for Oklahoma State University home football games, which starts Saturday, the Sixth Annual Downtown Car Show, Oct. 5 and 6, and the Oct. 30 Halloween Fest and the theme is Red Dirt Zombies.
“I am so excited. I really feel these job is especially suited to me,” Frazier said.