SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Kevin Tubbesing doesn't pretend to have all the answers when it comes to the future of the OK Garage on 59th Street and Nieman Road, and he isn't shying away from asking for help from Shawnee residents to determine the future of the space.
"I've lived in Shawnee for over 20 years, but the OK Garage has been here for almost 100. So I figured it would be a good idea to go out to the public and find out what the citizens of Shawnee are looking to have here," the real estate developer said. "The building itself is iconic, and if you actually just take what I think is a pretty cool name, the OK Garage, which can really be turned into anything, I think it's just one of those things that needs to live on."
The second coming of the garage will be determined partly by the people of Shawnee thanks to a campaign Tubbesing began on Facebook.
"The feedback has been great. I think most of the citizens that have responded back to the page have been very encouraging with the idea of a sit down restaurant," he said.
The city is supportive of Tubbesing's effort, too.
"We think that the Facebook campaign is pretty cool. It`s kind of an innovative idea to do it, and the OK Garage has been here for almost 100 years so a lot of people know it," said Julie Breithaupt with the city of Shawnee. "The fact that it`s going to be something new and different and the developer is taking the time, from the ground level, to get the community input -- we`re all about that."
It's input Breithaupt hopes residents will take advantage of as more change comes to the Nieman Corridor over the next several months.
"The overall goal of the Nieman Now project is to make this area downtown more pedestrian, biker, family friendly. We`re really working to connect all of these neighborhoods together and help the walkability in the area," she said.
It's an area Tubbesing believes will soon be better than it's ever been.
"With Nieman Now and all the investments that are happening with the streetscape, the roads and the walkability with the park systems, it demonstrated that coming down here to the Nieman Corridor is going to be a good place to come and consider redevelopment," he said.