‘Bring business back to Lawton’: locals hope to revive downtown

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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – Some Lawton residents say they want to see the city’s downtown area come back to life.

“I watched them demolish Lawton,” Bonnie Guzman said. “All the mom and pop shops.. I was born and raised on C Street so it was really sad for me.”

Guzman grew up in Lawton, and remembers the downtown area primarily. She said she is disappointed with the current state of the area, including Central Plaza.

“I started counting how many places there were. Because when I worked at the mall in the ’80s, all the stores were there. People were dying to get into the mall,” she recalls. “Now I walk through the mall. I stopped counting at 12.”

The north side of C Avenue is slipping away with time, some of the city’s top businesses have closed for good, and there’s nothing to replace them.

Greg Edwards has been the owner of Carolina Comics for almost 20 years. As trends change, the business has survived by adapting, he said.

“You’ve just had to change the way you run the business…just basically work arm in arm with the community. That’s when that happens, you have a healthy community…it grows.” But once you stop, you’ll probably see a ghost town.

Both Guzman and Edwards said they would like to see downtown brought back to life with the help of Lawton City Council.

“They just need to get together and decide, what can we do to attract people to Lawton? What can we do to get men out of the house?” Edwards asked.

“We need to come together as a community. I think we need to participate in the issues that are going on in the council meetings… If we don’t bring industry, if we don’t bring new businesses here… the city will just not exist,” Guzman said.

She said how proud she is of Lawton for the progress it has made in other areas of the city, adding that she hopes the downtown area will follow suit.

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