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.
How has business coverage changed since The Oklahoman was sold?
The business section has enjoyed the addition of two energy reporters under the new ownership, and I think we've had a great year so far. At a time when newspaper resources are stretched everywhere, I like to think we're improving our game and keeping our readers informed about what's going on in our city and state. Can we do better? Always. But I hope you're seeing the results of an enhanced business news staff.
What are the plans at the intersection of Joe Carter and E. Sheridian in Bricktown at the old metal buildings?
Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett are making progress on their apartments and hotel development, but they've consistently warned this won't be a quick or easy project. They must work with the city on removal of decades-old storm drains and then they will have to remove any contamination from the soil. Don't be surprised if, despite their best efforts, construction doesn't begin until 2014. This is a tricky project — best wishes to them in pulling it off.
Do you ever write a story and think, “The comments on this are going to be so stupid and ridiculous?" If you do, does that change the information you put into the story?
When it comes to the anonymous comments on the NewsOK stories, I pretty much assume that regardless of the topic (people like buying hot dogs late at night in Bricktown), it will spur comments about President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney being evil, or this is why we need prayer in schools. The comments on NewsOK rarely play any role in how I write my stories.
Will three garages be built in Oklahoma City? If so, is there an estimated time we might learn where they'll be built?
Two are announced: The city is building the 750-space garage south of City Hall, and a public/private partnership will build a 350-space garage at NW 10 and Robinson. I sense the city is waiting on a couple of potential projects to go public before making any moves on a third garage.