Reporter Steve Lackmeyer answered questions from readers Friday during his weekly chat about downtown Oklahoma City developments.Read the entire chat recap here.
Topics discussed include: funding for the convention center hotel, what's in store for the First National Center property, when the city will add another skyscraper, new developments south of the river and making Oklahoma City more bikeable and walkable.
On making the city more bicycle friendly and walkable:
I do think Oklahoma City is being sincere in its efforts to promote more bicycling. Project 180, when completed, will provide dedicated bike lanes throughout downtown. The bikeshare program is, from what I've seen, a big success even on 114-degree days. MAPS 3 includes significant completion of the city-wide trails system. Bike racks are set up throughout downtown. As for making the city "walkable" - I sense that it's still a tough concept for city engineers to grasp the change in thinking required to sincerely pursue such a goal. And keep in mind, City Hall leadership is dominated by engineers.
On Capitol Hill and Stockyards development:
The Stockyards are coming along nicely. I'd say the river and stockyards are the biggest winners to come out of the opening of the new Interstate 40. Capitol Hill has incredible potential - but I'm still not seeing the spark or catalyst need to put it in a much deserved equal footing with Film Row, MidTown the Plaza District and Automobile Alley.
On funding for the convention center hotel:
My sources are telling me the city may have identified sources of public funding for subsides expected to go with a hotel that won't involve tapping into existing tax revenues. I am not sure how that is possible, so we will just have to wait and see. The city is doing final interviews for the convention center and is negotiating to buy the parking lots south of the Myriad Gardens for this project.