The Flamingo: Bringing a Little Palm Springs to OKC

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos by Charlie Merida of Kevo Properties.

Over the last year or so, many of us have excitedly watched the transformation of the former University Manor Apartments, located at 1844 NW 23rd across from OCU.  Here’s what the building looked like in 2010 (from the Tax Assessor website):

It’s always been a building I’ve admired for its mid-century style and the repeating pattern of the walkway in front.  It’s a beautiful design and the building, which was constructed in 1961, looks like it has always been well maintained, but the bland tan paint job didn’t show off the complex to its full potential.  Well, all of that has changed in a big way with the structure’s stunning transformation from University Manor to the sleek and fabulous Flamingo:

How fun is this?  I’m so in love with all of that color, I can’t stand it!

The 32-unit complex offers 31 one-bedroom, 550-square-foot apartments and one two bed/two bath apartment, along with on-site laundry.  Inside, the light and colorful units have been completely updated and feature well-appointed kitchens (with custom-crafted dividers) and crisp, clean bathrooms.

The nice-sized living areas, which open to the kitchen, are a pleasant surprise, too:

Two couples, Jason and Sara Kate Little and Ben and Jessica Chamberlain are the brains behind this beautiful renovation, and the team was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the project.

Why did you decide to go with a mid century theme?

Flamingo disappeared on 23rd Street before we painted it and we felt it deserved a Palm Springs style upgrade.  We chose a mid century design because it fit the lines and the era and left room for playfulness and that we thought could bring the property to life. — Jess

Do you have any original drawings or photo of the complex?

I spent hours looking through the archives at the Historical Society and never seemed to stumble upon that “needle in the haystack.”  Instead, we gained inspiration from roadside motels from Route 66 and Palm Springs, as well as Luis Barragan for his use of color and form.” — Sara Kate

What has the response been to this project?

The response has been really favorable.  It’s been really fun to see so many people get excited about the design and most surprisingly, the color.  I never thought I would have men messaging and approaching us to tell us how much they loved the pink!  It makes me very excited that our city is embracing something that is a little quirky and outside the box. — Sara Kate

Is this the first project like this you’ve done?

I consult on aesthetics for clients and Jason helps broker real estate investments for his job.  We were really looking for a way to start doing design and development projects together and so we created “Nostalgia Shoppe” as a vehicle to do that.  We partnered on this project with some of our best friends, which was fun, but we are also working on another project independently that will hopefully be live next year. — Sara Kate

We have bought and renovated several historic multi family properties in Oklahoma City but Flamingo is a unique project for us because we have collaborated with the Little’s and we have exercised a little more creativity on this renovation.  Luckily, we have a solid team of subcontractors who are willing to with us on installing a custom made metal bar cabinet or making sure we get the lighting just right or helping us bring the color palette to life.  It has been fun to let our eccentricities come through in design versus picking a safer route and even more fun collaborating with dear friends.  — Jess

Do you plan to do more projects like this?

At some point in the future there will be more projects after a respite from construction.  It was fulfilling to see the vision come to life in the end.  Ben

Well, if the Flamingo is any indication of what this dynamic team of friends can do, I can’t wait for them to get started on their next colorful, fun, and invigorating project.  If you are interested in leasing an apartment at the swanky Flamingo, contact Shawn Shafer at Kevo Properties — 818/915.3168.