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COMPLETE WITH KITSCH-EN: OKC's Flamingo apartments embrace retro look, stylish interior

Alicia Fraire / Red Dirt Report
The exterior of The Flamingo apartment complex at 1844 NW 23rd in Oklahoma City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – If you happen to be driving down NW 23rd Street, just past the campus of Oklahoma City University, a two-story building on the south side of the street might cause you to do a doubletake.

And chances are, someone – a group of people – are taking selfies in front of the iconic, pink neon sign out front.

No, John F. Kennedy is no longer president. But The Flamingo hearkens back to the days of Camelot, the Space Race and when the cars coming out of Detroit city still had fins.

Jason Little, to whom we spoke, along with his wife Sara, and their partners Ben and Jess Chamberlain, went in together to purchase OCU's University Manor apartments, which were in the two-story building originally built in 1961. For years, University Manor was largely used for married student housing.

The foursome saw the retro/cool potential for what would become The Flamingo (named by Sara, who runs Sara Kate Studios) noting that it had all exterior access, and was similar to a mid-century roadside motel, like the sort you might see in "old Florida, or along Route 66. 

Jason Little told Red Dirt Report that the building was likely never a motel, because there were not holes that would indicate window A/C units. Instead, he said, the building had a central boiler/chiller system, but that system has been updated so occupants can control the temperature in their particular unit.

A clear view of the OCU campus, as seen from the courtyard of The Flamingo. (Alicia Fraire / Red Dirt Report)

Little said that its not uncommon for him to drive to the site and see people taking pictures out in front of the eye-catching sign. It's certainly a selling point

With the units averaging 550 square feet and sporting lots of storage space, the units at The Flamingo are perfect for students and non-students alike.

Little noted, chuckling a bit, that a campus sorority uses a mascot which is a flamingo. Additionally, Bloomberg reported earlier this summer that we are experiencing a resurgence in "flamingo kitsch," so the Flamingo landed at just the right moment, it would seem.

Sure, it's not Miami, circa 1957, or the Las Vegas Strip during the heyday of The Rat Pack, but it is just blocks from the Plaza District, something Little considers a plus for those looking for quirky-but-practical housing with an Art Deco style that "pops!"

Little said that OCU was very helpful during the transition in ownership, offering assistance in the form of maintenance ideas and other building-related issues as they remodeled and refurbished the property, which is now still accepting renters for year-long lease agreements. 

Approximately eight of the 31 units are completely redone, with the rest being completed - and available - in coming months. Kevo Property Management is handling the rental and management of the Flamingo, Little said. 

The upstairs units, complete with starburst, era-appropriate door handle decorations, have cork floors, Little noted, while the downstairs units have epoxy-coated concrete floors, with updated bathrooms, complete with subway tiles and custom cabinets. 

With retro-style appliances, on-site laundry facilities, and on-site parking, directly across from OCU, rent is $695 per month. 

And while pets were initially not accepted at The Flamingo, Little said that research revealed that approximately half of potential renters had pets, so they relented and dropped that "no-pet" policy. Being close to OCU is a plus, of course, but anyone is welcome at The Flamingo.

"We're not advertising it as a student housing project," Little said, "But we're not turning students away."

To learn more about The Flamingo, go to kevorentals.com.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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