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Steve Lackmeyer: Tower Theater still key to revival of NW 23, but owner struggling to tackle tough renovation

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: September 28, 2012 at 11:04 am •  Published: September 28, 2012
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The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&As on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Read the complete chat transcript here.

With the announcement of “The Rise” shops taking over the surrounding block at NW 23 and Walker, do you see the construction of the Tower Theatre ramping back up?

A lot of people see the Tower Theater as the anchor that ultimately makes or breaks the Uptown 23rd corridor. Marty Dillon, the owner, has the best of intentions. But after several years of trying to put together the right mix of financing, historic tax credits and other tools of development, he has yet to pull it off. Development of old buildings is not easy for even the most experienced people in the business. To my knowledge, this is the first historic building redevelopment attempted by Dillon. Observers note it may be helpful if Dillon either partners up with someone like a Marva Ellard, Steve Mason or a Jeff Struble to get the job done, or seek to sell the property to a more experienced developer.

Do you have any news on the new high rise or where it will be built?

It's still very possible a story might break on a new high rise before the end of the year. Keep your sights set on what develops with the Stage Center property.

Have you heard of any push for the buildings downtown to have more store front commercial space along their bottom floors?

Ah yes, the blank walls, as noted by the late William Whyte... (I wrote about this topic at OKC Central: http://blog.newsok.com/okccentral/2008/08/23/blank-walls/). There are Urban Design guidelines that prevent the sort of development we saw in the 1970s, but ultimately, it all comes down to consumer demand. The market must be there for any space to actually attract the kind of retail tenants we all hope to see at street level. We're seeing progress along Automobile Alley. But the Central Business District remains a dicey proposition.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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