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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central unedited chat transcript, August 10, 2012

Reporter Steve Lackmeyer chatted with readers at 10 a.m. Friday about downtown Oklahoma City developments and issues.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 10, 2012 at 11:13 am •  Published: August 10, 2012

Below is an unedited chat transcript with reporter Steve Lackmeyer about downtown Oklahoma City developments and issues.

Steve will be logging in soon. You can start submitting your questions now.
- NewsOK at 09:43


- Steve Lackmeyer at 09:56

Good morning everybody!
- Steve Lackmeyer at 09:59

Two things: When is Native Roots opening? What happened to Sage? It looks like they just walked out and locked the door.
- Kurt at 09:59

Kurt, I talked to some folks with Native Roots last night. It looks like the store will be opening up in September. In the meantime, it appears as if they will closing their original Norman store as they make this move. That wasn't their original plan, but their neighborhood has been embraced by the grocery folks and competition will soon include a Sunflower/Sprouts market and a Wal Mart market. That's pretty tough competition for an independent grocer.

- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:01

As for Sage, it closed late last year. I really liked the owners, Keavin and Charifa Smith, but their concept did have some challenges in terms of pricing and selection. It was a great effort, but that's how the restaurant business goes. I've seen indications that a new restaurant is being looked at for the space, but I am not hearing anything definitive yet.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:03

Where could I find information if Oklahoma City had any downtown urban renewal plans that helped develop downtown before 1930?
- Brandon at 10:03

Brandon, I've done quite a bit of research on this topic. Keep in mind that Urban Renewal programs started with federal legislation in the 1940s. One might argue that the creation of our Civic Center, in which a rail yard was removed and replaced with our City Hall, County Courthouse and Music Hall in the 1930s was an earlyday example of Urban Renewal style redevelopment.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:04

Hi Steve!
- Nick at 10:05

Hey Nick!
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:05

Do you have any renderings of what the new 10th St exit redesign is going to look like?
- Nick at 10:05

Nick, there were schematics given out at the last Urban Renewal meeting, but nothing that can really be read by anyone but engineers. That said, I'll endeavor to get something drawn up for readers.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:05

Has there been any explanation of where the ODOT monster roundabout design came from, and whether or not they acknowledge the other design?
- Sooner at 10:06

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation stated they created the roundabout design with 10 road connections after pulling what they said was a similar design they found on the Facebook page for Friends for a Better Boulevard, the advocacy group arguing to keep the road at-grade instead of elevated as sought out by the state highway engineers. The advocacy group responds they did not have a rendering even close to the one released by ODOT. I looked at all the images on the Facebook page and did not see any with 10 road connections.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:08

What are the chances of ODOT backing down on the timetable for the boulevard? Or of having significant public input? Could MAPS money be directed to this project?
- Sooner at 10:08

Sooner, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has indicated that if Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch or City Engineer Eric Wenger ask that the project be slowed down, they will do just that. Couch has indicated he will take his cues from the city council. As for MAPS money being used for the boulevard, the ballot for MAPS 3 did not require money to be spent on anything but capital improvements, so yes, if five or more members of the city council were to vote to move money from stated projects to the boulevard, that can be done. Politically, it likely would start up quite the firestorm.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:11

Any significant rumors on what will happen to the old convention center?
- Dustin at 10:11

Dustin, it's a prime development site. But there are those who argue we still need the Cox Arena for sporting events like Big 12, etc. As for any specific rumors.... it's a bit early for that right now.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:12

If you could have lunch with any developer in Oklahoma City, and interview them about their vision they had for downtown Oklahoma City, who would it be, and why?
- Brandon at 10:12

Best question I've been asked in all these OKC Central Live Chats....

- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:12

My dream discussion, hands down, would be with Mark Moore, whose father was Bob Moore of the Bob Moore Auto Group. To my knowledge, Mark Moore has never given an interview to any reporters. I don't even know what he looks like, though I once got confirmation that he at least is aware that I exist. He doesn't do interviews, he doesn't make public appearances, yet this involvement downtown is far more extensive than anyone might realize.

- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:14

Mark Moore owns some of the best undeveloped sites left downtown - the vacant properties on both the east and west sides of the Garage Lofts on NW 13 between Broadway and Robinson, Century Center Plaza, the Kingman Building on the Bricktown Canal, and I suspect some properties (though I can't be certain because they are in LLCs) along Oklahoma Avenue north of Deep Deuce. By all accounts, Moore does a good job maintaining his properties, is slow and deliberate at what he does, and I never hear any complaints about his overall direction. But what is his ultimate interest in downtown? What would he like to see happen? Oh yeah, I'd love to have that conversation with Mark Moore.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:18

Will the new Flycatcher Bridge ever connect the river trails and the downtown park?
- Jennifer at 10:18

Absolutely Jennifer - that's the grand plan. Keep in mind the MAPS 3 Core to Shore park includes land on the west side of Robinson Avene extending from the bridge to the river.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:19

What chance, if any, is there that MidFirst Bank relocates their headquarters to downtown? I know there has been a longstanding rumor about them looking downtown, but does it happen?
- Nick at 10:19

Nick, I'd probably have a front page story on this if I had an answer for you!
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:19

Hey Steve, from your blog you seem to be a music buff. Any concerts that you're looking forward to coming up?
- Brad at 10:20

Sadly, being a family guy with bills to pay, I've not been able to see a concert since Billy Joel's last visit. But if Elvis Costello were to come to town, I'd sell plasma if I had to so I could make that show!
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:21

What 10th street exit is mentioned above?
- Sooner at 10:21

Sooner, there's an effort by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to rework the NW 10th exit and entrance from I-235 northbound. You can read the whole story here:
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:23

Steve, any plans for development along the Oklahoma River. Restaurants, Shopping, Residence?
- Guest at 10:23

Guest, we're seeing this sort of development along the river by Meridian Avenue and SW 15 currently. As for the river as it flows south of downtown, I suspect it's just a mater of a few more years, if that, before we start hearing such announcements. I suspect that developers are awaiting further development to occur first in Core to Shore.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:24

Who owns the Rock Island Building in bricktown and how are they allowed to keep that building is such bad shape?
- Guest at 10:24

Avis and Phil Scaramucci own the Rock Island Plow building. To be fair, they've spent a lot of money to rebrace and re-roof the building and absolutely saved it from falling down. That said, I understand the frustration with the building remaining boarded up in the middle of Bricktown. The couple has had offers to buy and redevelop the building, and they even entered into a contract with neighboring property owners Harding & Shelton that would have triggered redevelopment of the property. That deal fell through with the bust in 2008. The city does not, at this time, have any ordinances that stop property owners from boarding up their buildings and leaving them undeveloped (other cities do).
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:27

If Nashville, Omaha, and Salt Lake City all offered you a job to be a reporter for their downtown development, which city would you choose, and why?
- Brandon at 10:27

I can tell you that I fielded interest in the past f(though not for downtown beat coverage specifically) rom a newspaper in Texas, and could have pursued opportunities in other states. This is a big what if, because truth be told, I really do love Oklahoma City, my family is here and my friends are here. So this is a huge hypothetical - but I'd be intrigued with Nashville.... it's a city that is really on the rise and has so much potential to hit high tier two status or potentially even break into tier one status.
- Steve Lackmeyer at 10:30

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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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