John Hunsucker, who is hoping to build a new home for his law firm along Film Row, is starting to give a bit more insight into how he chose to design the building. The discussion, which includes some back and forth, shows the upside of OKC Talk, a local online forum.
Before we get to Hunsucker, let me delve a bit more into what’s going on at OKC Talk. To be blunt, a couple of members with hidden identities and (with at least one) a hidden agenda have created a pretty hostile environment for those who don’t engage in group think and ask unpopular questions (like me).
The group think went into full blast attack this past month on the developer of a proposed Springhill Suites. At the time, they really didn’t have any information about the designs, other than the developer’s ho-hum past suburban projects. So when someone asked me about the “backlash” against the developer and the project, (backlash not my term but someone else’s), I responded that this rush to judgment without information represented the downside of community forums.
Now, let’s reverse course. Was I supposed to say that a rush to judgment without information represented the “upside”? Not gonna happen. Not then, not now. And while the designs that have popped since seem to match up with the fears of the project’s critics, that doesn’t change the idea that there was a rush to judgment. What if they had been wrong? Note, they were convinced that a home being built by Ron Walters in Deep Deuce had an $8 million building permit when it was actually $800,000. The forum was, at first, limited to the same scarcity of information with both projects and made quick assumptions each time.
Am I saying OKC Talk members aren’t free to do this? Of course not. But don’t ask me in a live chat to suggest this sort of rush to judgment represents the best side of such forums.
The vitriol this has brought on me has prompted me to take a break from participating in the forum discussions. It’s hard to keep up with all the things I’ve been quoted as saying – but didn’t (including the idea I had a big story set for last Sunday’s paper).
So why am I bringing all this up?
Because there is an upside to community forums like OKC Talk. I witnessed, first hand, how the developer of a Staybridge Suites in east Bricktown saw photos of the franchise from other cities posted at OKC Talk and then, and only then, was he swayed into thinking he could design a hotel that could be a better match for the entertainment district. The site layout is still not anyone’s favorite, but the complications that led to this go beyond anything I suspect most developers could easily tackle (though some superstars surely would).
John Hunsucker called me on Tuesday; he shared much of the same information he did on OKC Talk. He bought the empty lot at 600 W Sheridan long before the site across the street was selected for a new downtown elementary. He bought the property when Film Row was still better known as Skid Row. He took a chance, and won big.
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