The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers during his weekly OKC Central Chat. Participate in the chat every Friday at 10 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Business. Read the entire chat recap here.
What projects do you think should be included in MAPS 4?
I love Oklahoma City. I love downtown. I can talk about the great legacy of MAPS. But it's not a perfect creation. MAPS 3 has some challenges we've not seen before - specifically a lack of funding plans for project operations and upkeep.
Civic leaders are uncertain whether they will be able to build the wellness centers as promised. The sidewalks are being targeted for significant cuts from what was promised. No funding exists for funding of the streetcars or new park.
I don't see a MAPS 4 as a slam dunk. But if one does emerge, I've said before the public transit advocates are likely in the lead to dramatically improve what most people agree is a very broken public transportation system.
What is the word on future restaurants, a coffee shop, or perhaps even a bookstore opening in MidTown?
MidTown already has a pretty impressive collection of restaurants, including Irma’s, Kaiser’s, Café do Brazil, Prairie Thunder Bakery, Go Go Sushi, McNellie’s Public House, Brown’s Bakery, 1492 New World Cuisine, Stella’s, Louie’s, and my favorite, Foodies Asian Diner (great underdog story at 1220 N Hudson). Saturn Grill is being added to the building that is also home to Go Go Sushi.
A breakfast place may be coming to 1212, and I hear a restaurant deal is in the works for the Packard Building at Robinson and NW 10. Keep in mind we already have a great coffee shop with Elemental Coffee at NW 8 and Hudson, along with the beloved Ludivine Restaurant. Shops include a bridal shop and optical shop. As for a bookstore… gosh, I love bookstores. But the number of bookstores is sadly dropping, not expanding. I was heartbroken by the loss of Taylor’s Newsstand a couple years ago.
What is going to become of that big aluminum building mill/factory complex just on the other side of where the old I-40 crosstown?
The Southwestern Producers Oil Coop is one of the oldest continuous operations in the city, dating back to the late 1800s when Bricktown was first developed as a manufacturing and trade exchange area for cotton farmers. The cotton farmers want to relocate their operation to the old Dayton Tire Plant in west Oklahoma City. They offered the property up for sale two years ago with their broker, Gary Gregory, listing it for $121 million.
Gregory thought the site would be a prime spot for a new convention center. He also told me at the time he was convinced he could get other buyers for the asking price. He was wrong on both counts, and he was dropped as the broker last year. I have not seen any indication of any new deals for the cotton oil mill, though one board member has indicated to me the farmers now realize the $121 million asking price was too high.
Any progress on the Tower theater?
We keep hearing "in a few months..." That's all I've got for you.
Could we see some more basketball courts like the one at Reno and Hudson put in other parts of downtown or the rest of the city in the future?
Yes. So far downtown's civic leaders are very impressed with the response to the current basketball court. I've been told they are looking at how to move forward with this idea.
Do you know when construction for the new police headquarters and Oklahoma City municipal court buildings will begin?
If I recall correctly, design work is underway and the city wishes to start construction this next year. I think these two buildings could be a great boost to redevelopment of west downtown - especially W Main.