Reporter Steve Lackmeyer chatted with readers at 10 a.m. Friday about downtown Oklahoma City developments and issues. Read the entire chat recap here.
Topics discussed include: ODOT's roundabout design, the opening of Native Roots and closing of Sage, development along the Oklahoma river, more housing in Bricktown and Chesapeake Energy Arena vs. Tulsa's BOK Center.
On which Oklahoma venue has better concerts:
The truth is we have far less dates available due to the Chesapeake Energy Arena being home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. I'd argue that we lose more of the smaller concerts due to the fact we've not been able to come up with our own version of Tulsa's incredible Cain's Ballroom.
It was at Cain's, by the way, that Elvis Costello made his last state appearance.
On the opening of Native Roots and closing of Sage:
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.
As for Sage, it closed late last year. I really liked the owners, Kevin 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.
On ODOT's roundabout design:
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.
On Oklahoma river development:
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.
On Bricktown housing:
Bricktown has long shown great capacity for housing - the trick is overcoming land costs and parking arrangements. The U-Haul building, I agree, would make for the best historic building housing rehab project anywhere in the city. Small problem - U-haul doesn't seem to want to move.