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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central Chat transcript, August 3, 2012

Reporter Steve Lackmeyer answered questions from readers Friday, August 3, 2012 during a chat about downtown developments in Bricktown and throughout Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm •  Published: August 3, 2012

Below is an unedited transcript of a chat with reporter Steve Lackmeyer about downtown development and businesses.

Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start sending your questions in now. Let's hear what you've got.
- NewsOK at 09:26

Good morning everyone!
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:01

Today we have a lot of questions about housing and the boulevard.... but first....
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:02

i see your name on the thunder chat. are you also a sports fan. and what do you do at the daily oklahoman.
- harry man at 10:02

Harry, I'm a big Thunder fan and I root for both OU and OSU during college football season. I don't claim to be an expert sports authority like our sports writers - I'm just a fan. My day job is as a business writer and columnist covering central city development.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:03

- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:04

Steve, why are you so awesome? Which came first: the resurgence of downtown or Steve Lackmeyer's enlightening reports on our wonderful city? Who has done more for OKC's image: the Thunder of Steve Lackmeyer? Why are the Pulitzer Prizes not called the Lackmeyer Prizes? Is it Eastern liberal bias? Thank you for all you, Steve. We are in awe of you.
- Big Fan at 10:05

Thanks Mom. I love you too.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:05

You mentioned last time that the broker for the co-op had been terminated. Is the property still for sale?
- Bill at 10:05

Bill, I'm not aware of the Southwestern Producers Coop (south of Lower Bricktown) being listed at this time with any brokers. The deal with Gary Gregory was terminated some months back. But I do believe a deal is still possible when it comes to the coop - but not likely at the terms of $121 million presented by Gregory.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:07

Steve, when we envisioned the boulevard during the MAPS process, we thought about a tree-lined street similar to Classen Blvd. When did it become a street capable of handling 90,000 cars a day?
- Guest at 10:07

Good question. In 2010 I approached the Oklahoma Department of Transportation asking them to visit with me for an update on the boulevard project. At that time I was told there no designs prepared to discuss. This latest controversy over the boulevard design took place as city leaders first learned that the road being designed to come into downtown from the west resembled a high-speed freeway more than a boulevard. There seems to be a disconnect between the traffic engineers and interested residents and civic leaders as to what is desired in a new boulevard.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:09

ODOT keeps recommending Shields/Gaylord as the best route into downtown. Won't it have to be closed for old I-40 removal soon like the other N-S streets were? What will be the detour?
- Steve at 10:09

Steve, you're right on target with questions that hit me as I drove under that surviving section of the Crosstown just yesterday. That entire section of E.K. Gaylord/Shields and the Boulevard also will be torn up for the new road to go under the BNSF tracks. One might wonder: is the limited access purposely designed by ODOT engineers playing into the urgency to turn the west boulevard connection into an elevated high speed, volume access point? These are questions that will be asked.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:12

30,000 cars per day is more accurate
- okcbrwr at 10:12

Any chance the Humphrey's Flatiron project for Deep Deuce get revived?
- Brrandon at 10:12

A lot of people would love to see the Flatiron at Sixth Street and Harrison developed. That project was literally on the verge of construction starting in 2008 with a building permit taken out, plans submitted, and marketing underway. The project was based on a pretty aggressive pro forma that simply isn't realistic in today's market. Will another developer come in and find a way to help Grant Humphreys recover his costs to date on the project and do something new? Or will the project as designed someday become feasible? The site sure is great - it's prime real estate. There are no clear, easy answers....
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:16

What is going on at the vacant land north of the mayfair townhomes/
- Bill at 10:16

Bill, I think you're referring to the Maywood development in the Deep Deuce neighborhood - a development effort once dubbed (without any traction) the "Triangle." The Triangle was another victim of the 2008 bust. But before the bust hit, the developers got the first wave of Brownstones at Maywood Park, the Central Avenue Villas and the 2nd Street Lofts built. That's quite an achievement. The development team broke up, with some leaving all together, others splitting up ownership of what was left. Some parcels were sold and are now the site of the new Level apartments and Aloft Hotel. Triangle partner Ron Bradshaw has been delayed for months trying to get work started on apartments along NE 4 and Oklahoma. He has a building permit and all other approvals, so I'm not sure why there's still a delay on that. Richard McKown, who developed the Level apartments, is actively looking at ongoing housing development to the west of Level and maybe other spots in Deep Deuce. So all in all, the glass is half full in this area and rising.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:20

the new apartments just west of Deep Deuce. Why did the city not require that the outside be bricked? The white exterior does not fit the area. Related: What will be the exterior of the hotel right across the street?
- Bill at 10:20

Bill, the Deep Deuce apartments were built at a time when the neighborhood consisted of only one restored building and several boarded up structures. It was a big risk when First Worthing did the project. Looking back, does the design meet up with standards expected with other Urban Renewal projects? Likely not. But given what the development represented at the time, and how the developer agreed to risk building new apartments in and around boarded up structures, this really was a big step forward for the area.

- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:23

I would also urge everyone, including civic leaders, to look at Deep Deuce today. All of those really wonderful boarded-up brick commercial buildings from the heyday of Deep Deuce have been renovated into restaurants and housing. Similar buildings are being threatened in the Core to Shore area by those who think one has to completely clear the area to make way for new development. There are two historical precedents one can look at when it comes to rebuilding downtown - areas like Deep Deuce, and the I.M. Pei Plan....
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:25

What's the latest on the East Bricktown Apartment and Hotel project? Are we going to see some designs soon? How realistic a shot does this project have?
- Nick at 10:25

Nick, I visited with the developers of the east Bricktown project earlier this week. It has many challenges and complications, and yet progress is apparently going very, very well. Before construction can begin, massive sewer lines, old underground hazards and contamination must be dealt with. But the money is all coming together. Barring any big surprises, I suspect we will see construction starting by 2014.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:27

The east Bricktown project will consist of a hotel and apartments, and will likely transform that entryway into the district.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:28

How many bricks are in Bricktown???
- BJ at 10:28

Many. My GPS tracker broke down halfway through counting them.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:28

Do you expect any new infill projects to be announced for Deep Deuce? That entire north side seems like a great revitalization area with all the new housing coming online.
- Joe at 10:29

Joe, I do see new projects on the horizon for Deep Deuce, most of which will consist of housing and service-related retail. Deep Deuce is rapidly becoming the city's first truly mixed-use urban community.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:30

If the new boulevard is not high-speed freeway, then other exits need to be established from downtown. Shields and Western are not enough. How could that be accomplished?
- Bill at 10:30

Bill, this is the heart of the debate, isn't it? Some critics are questioning whether the boulevard is even needed. I don't know the answer to this question.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:31

We have a couple new high rises expected to be built within the next several years: the convention center hotel and Sandridge's new tower. What are the true chances we add a couple more to that list?
- Joe at 10:31

I am sticking with what I wrote in a column earlier this year: we are likely to see an announcement of another office or mixed-use tower downtown sometime this next year or so. I am seeing and hearing too much related to such a development to think otherwise. Add in the already announced intention by Sandridge Energy that it will build an office tower at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr and the city's determination to include a new conference hotel with the convention center and we are likely to see an ongoing transformation of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:34

Saw your cameo pulling your bag through a picture on TV last week. Brought back memories of the famous bridge over the canal day. What ever happened to Jack Money?
- Carl Sullivan at 10:34

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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