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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central Chat transcript, Dec. 21, 2012

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: December 21, 2012 at 11:03 am •  Published: December 21, 2012

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. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:28 a.m. Good morning everyone! Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions and comments now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Good morning everybody.
Gary T 10:04 a.m. Good morning Steve. Sorry to hear about the loss of your father. From what I read about him, he seemed like a great man.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. Thanks. He accomplished quite a bit, fell short at times, and I appreciate the support you readers have given me through this time.
Gary T 10:05 a.m. What do you think of Kilroy’s (allegedly a pizza place) going in the Coin Laundry building in the Plaza district?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. I saw it earlier this week. I'm running behind on some items, so what I know is limited to that the building is owned by Steve Mason and it looks like a pretty promising renovation.
Matt W. 10:06 a.m. Good morning Steve.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. Good morning.
Gary T 10:06 a.m. There has been a lot of debate on okctalk.com about why we need a 300,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall at the state fairgrounds and 200,000 sq. ft. of “contiguous space” in the new convention center. What are your thoughts on this argument?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. I think this is one of many questions and topics that should have been discussed during the MAPS 3 campaign and sadly, such discussions often did not take place.
Gary T 10:07 a.m. The north side of 6th street between Frances and Shartel is about half a block of open land that is for sale. Directly north of that are the more modern homes. Do you see those ever being built facing 6th street?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. Yep. That neighborhood is going to continue to evolve and turn into a showcase of modern design homes.
Matt W. 10:08 a.m. Are there any updates with the Boulevard?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. Behind the scenes there are discussions underway to make Route A more pedestrian friendly. Friends for a Better Boulevard, meanwhile, is gearing up for a fight noting the consultant, Stantech, was not given the free hand to look at all options as was promised (engineers instructed that any scenario has to keep Reno open and result in construction of a full boulevard).
Gary T 10:09 a.m. Project 180 recently received a $750,000 grant for streetscape on EK Gaylord & will start quickly due to time constraints on the grant. What do you think would be the best used for and what do you think it will end up getting used for? Prepping for streetcar tracks?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. At the start of Project 180 I asked city officials about how they planned to rebuild streets and then tear them up again to add streetcar tracks. I'm not sure their answers settled everyone's concerns then, and it sounds like it's not ending debate today. I'll post that story on OKC Central later today.
Gary T 10:11 a.m. With the recent influx of large amounts of housing in Deep Deuce, how long until we see a grocery store larger than Native Roots?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. Hopefully a long time. Let Native Roots get rooted in, attached to the neighborhood, and fixed up on providing what's best for the neighborhood. Why bring in a larger grocery store to kill the investment this family has made downtown that was not being made by the large chains?
BethanySooner 10:12 a.m. Glad you're back Steve, sorry for your loss. Walker Avenue between 10th and 13th is exploding with the Edge Apartments, 1212, Osler conversion, and now the Saint Anthony's Hospital expansion. Are you aware of any additional developments around 10th street on some of those vacant lots? I realize that you don't report it until it is confirmed, but are there major housing projects, such as Edge, in the planning stages that you are aware of?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. Thanks Bethany. There will be more housing built in MidTown. Expect hundreds more apartments, some for-sale housing. And yeah, it's all in the planning stages.
Gary T 10:14 a.m. I am little confused on Meinder’s purchase of the NE corner of NE 4th and Walnut. Will he be keeping the metal building on the corner and redoing the building behind it? What about the larger metal building covered by trees to the east of these?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. Yes, he will be keeping the largest metal building covered with brush, and he'll be cleaning up the site and using it for storage. The older brick buildings will be redeveloped.
Nick 10:14 a.m. Welcome back, Steve. My sincerest condolences on the passing of your father.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Thanks Nick.
BethanySooner 10:15 a.m. When you get the opportunity could you do an update on the progress of the Project 180 streetscapes? What streets will ultimately be left out and whether there will be furnishings and public art. Also, how will the EKG construction affect the implementation of the Transit Hub and streetcar tracks.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Yes, I have begun work on a Project 180 update this week. To be quite honest, the only delay in getting it done is myself. Again, have patience with me... I'm dealing with a lot of matters personally that have made it difficult to give 100 percent at work the past couple of weeks. I'm blessed with very patient editors who have been very understanding. I can tell you that the trimmings from Project 180 aren't as bad as previously thought.
Nick 10:17 a.m. Steve, was the St. Anthony expansion approved at yesterday's meeting?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. No, it was delayed as St. Anthony works with the owner of Kaiser's to ensure he has a place for his dumpsters.
Nick 10:17 a.m. What can you tell us about Marva Ellard possibly doing some housing in Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. It's a possibility, but nothing firm yet to report.
Santa Claus 10:18 a.m. Steve, if you could have anything build downtown for Christmas, what would it be, and why?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Oh wow, Santa... can you give $200 million to buy First National Center? Of course, I'd only need about $20 million of that to actually buy the buildings. The remainder of the money would go toward renovating the east tower facade so it can be a good Class B office building, while I'd convert the upper floors of the middle building into parking. The east tower is the Christmas star on this gift: I'd convert part of the tower into housing, part of it into a hotel. The Great Banking Hall would serve as a lobby for the hotel, with some of the space being converted into a bookstore and Internet cafe. And because you're giving this to me, I'd want to give back to my city by converting the old Beacon Club up top into the state's greatest community space for non-profits, civic clubs and average folks to enjoy for gatherings, meetings and banquets.
Guest 10:24 a.m. Any talks of when and where the first restaurant on the Oklahoma River is pop up? Are there any spaces you can think of that you would like to see a restaurant on the river?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Don't be surprised if one pops up with the White Water Rapids, which I think would be a great location.
Guest 10:24 a.m. Any drawings on the apartments going up just North of the Brownstones along the railroad tracks in Deep Deuce?
10:26 a.m.
Nick 10:26 a.m. Any ideas on what we can expect from McKown's new project in Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. Not yet. Other than it will have underground parking and 97 units.
Dustin Gabus 10:27 a.m. Good morning, Steve. Any big predictions for downtown Oklahoma City in 2013?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. The skyline is going to grow.
Guest 10:28 a.m. Does the Film District have a Committee/Association that is working on promoting the area or getting their name out there?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. They've got Chip Fudge....
Ian 10:29 a.m. Do you have any leads on who might be moving in the Century Center offices once renovations are completed? Moreover, are the Sheraton Hotel owners planning to upgrade the facade of hotel to match new Century Center mall and garage?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Yes. It will have a restaurant and office tenants. As for the Sheraton, good question... I'll ask.
Nick 10:29 a.m. I noticed some of the neon is already going out on the new Tower Theater sign. Is there something on the horizon for this gem or is destined for disrepair once more?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. I fear that the owners are in over their heads... and this is based on conversations I've had with them. They're good people. But this isn't an easy project for those inexperienced on historic restoration projects.
Nick 10:30 a.m. Is the Midtown Group waiting to begin the Marion and garage until they finish the Guardian?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. They've got an architect on board and a timeline to follow... it's coming.
BethanySooner 10:31 a.m. Will there be more Brownstones built to finish out the block(s)? Also, do you know how many more units are going to built at The Hill in this next phase?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. I suspect the remaining lots will be developed, but not with Brownstones. Not sure on the Hill expansion, but at least a dozen more units, I think maybe more.
Guest 10:31 a.m. Do you think once the downtown park is build that The Great Lawn will serve at the New Years Eve, gathering place?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. I've yet to hear how the park will be viable in the near future, so I don't know how to answer your question.
Pat 10:32 a.m. Glad you're back Steve, sorry about your loss. Do you have an opinion on the current 'fiscal cliff' issues with regard to slowing down development in the CBD. Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. I am a political agnostic. I tend to think the worst of our Congress... it's a lot of theater....
BethanySooner 10:33 a.m. Steve, you said earlier that the skyline will grow. By how many buildings if you had to guess?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. Consider this: we already know there will be a 13-story Main Street garage with housing going up this next year, along with the new elementary. Of course, you all want to know about the towers. I see two towers going up ...
CD 10:38 a.m. Who is building the new tower downtown? Name names.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. No. I'll do that on the front page of The Oklahoman!
Guest 10:38 a.m. The Capitol area seems to have new building going up along Lincoln... whats the outlook of this part of town?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Lincoln will see a slow but steady improvement if all continues as planned. It's a lot better than it was a decade ago.
Nostradamus 10:39 a.m. What happened with Mark Beffort's prediction of a new tower in 2012?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. He recently adjusted it to early 2013. These projects have a timeline of their own.
Nick 10:39 a.m. What are you most excited about for downtown in 2013?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. I can't tell you. I wish I could. And I can't wait until I am able to. And no, it doesn't involve a tower.
guy 10:40 a.m. Steve, perhaps this question is beyond your expertise, but it's been on my mind lately: do you think OKC now has conditions similar to those of when downtown suffered from the oil bust? It does seem to me like we're all energy in our town and lack diversity in the major businesses down there. i guess i remember what downtown was like when i was a kid in the early 80's, and i'm frightened by the thought that this could all tank again.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Is it 1982 again?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Yes. And no.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. We actually do have more ,diversity in some sense than we did in 1982, but, we also have far less manufacturing. Devon and Continental seem solid and strong. Enogex is strong. Sonic is good. BancFirst is solid. But we are seeing a shareholder battle over at SandRidge, and Chesapeake's challenges have been well covered by other reporters.
It's not 1982. It's 2012, about to be 2013, and we just don't know what that really means.
Guest 10:43 a.m. Any plans for a new entertainment district outside of bricktown that has more bars and restaurants. Besides Plaza, Western or Midtown? There are a lot of older empty buildings along Classen and Main, any rumors around that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Not that I know of.
Rod 10:43 a.m. To follow up on the growing skyline, any idea on how tall any of the potential new buildings will be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. I previously reported one is expected to hit 40 stories.
Nick 10:44 a.m. HAHA, Steve, you tease!
Josh 10:44 a.m. What is happening in the space west of Cafe 7? Looks like a new place is going in.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. I don't know.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Nice.
Nick 10:45 a.m. Why can't OKC get an apartment development like this to take place?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Maybe we will at some point.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. I can tell you developers read this chat. Hopefully that rendering might give them some inspiration.
Nick 10:46 a.m. Maybe somewhere on the north side of downtown...
Nick 10:46 a.m. Something a little more modern and a lot taller.
Nick 10:46 a.m. When do you think you might be able to tell us what you're most excited about?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. I really hope it won't be much longer.
Pat 10:46 a.m. We all know about SandRidge having negative comments from stock holding investors. We're not seeing another CHK are we ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. I don't know. The energy team is far more qualified to answer this question than I.
guy 10:47 a.m. Steve, is there any planned development along classen? especially near the tiny mod-style homes?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. Not that I know of.
Guest 10:48 a.m. How soon until we see another crane going up for another hotel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. Probably within the next two years if not sooner.
BethanySooner 10:48 a.m. Are you hearing any rumblings about development plans in the Core to Shore area, or is it still too early?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. There is a lot of interest in developing housing around the new park. Some folks would like to see older buildings retained, redeveloped. We'll see what happens.
Nick 10:49 a.m. What's the status of the Holiday Inn in Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Expect an update in early 2013.
Josh 10:49 a.m. So is the hype validated for Kitchen 324? I here they officially open today.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. Kitchen No. 324 is the most urban restaurant downtown. It's an incredible space in an incredible building. Good Egg Dining did a good job at creating a new concept, new menu, and I was quite impressed by my visit on Wednesday.
Nick 10:50 a.m. I realized yesterday how badly Classen needs a makeover ala Project 180.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I hear ya.
Guest 10:50 a.m. What are your thoughts on the Civic Center's new lawn? It seems a little out of place to me, doesn't really fit with the building...thoughts?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. The Civic Center park was forced through over a public protest and concerns by council members under the argument that it had a hard and fast deadline that had to be met (the 75th anniversary celebrated this fall).
Nick 10:52 a.m. It's actually not a bad road at all to travel north on from Reno Ave as there is some historic charm along the way, but it's a seriously blighted road for most of the journey until 23rd.
Guest 10:52 a.m. Did the Holiday Inn Hotel across from CityWalk not get approved?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. It's not officially been submitted to Bricktown Urban Design yet. But it shouldn't have much of a problem once that happens - they all seemed very happy with the first presentation.
Joshua in Uptown 10:53 a.m. So are the Tower Theater guys willing to sell their property? If they can't redevelop it I'd think that's the next option. Maybe to the group that bought Hotel Motel Liquidation or Wayne Property...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Not so far.
Pat 10:53 a.m. Any news on the 2 proposed boathouses, OU & UCO ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Progress is being made on both.
Jack 10:54 a.m. anything about a small plane crash at will rogers?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. If something like that has happened, NewsOk will keep you informed.
Nick 10:54 a.m. I'm pretty excited for the Main St garage. I think it's going to be a nice addition.
Nick 10:54 a.m. Main St. has a lot of nice potential.
Nick 10:54 a.m. I really do think OKC might be overextending itself with all this development in all these different areas. We stand a real chance of getting ahead of ourselves if we don't see two or three areas to fruition.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. That concern has been voiced quite a bit in regard to Core to Shore.
Guest 10:55 a.m. There's an older looking building on Robinson and NW 11th street that looks vacant, do you know what the building was used as?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Are you talking about the old First Scientist Church?
guy 10:55 a.m. i have to agree with Guest about the new park in front of the civic center. i know i'm assuming my opinion is authoritative here (probably isn't), but why does it seem like we're just not as good as other cities when it comes to really impressive public aesthetic space?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. I understand your concern.
Guest 10:56 a.m. ok steve, in 2012 the Devon Tower, New Crosstown and Chesapeake Boathouse were completed. The Chesapeake Arena is almost done, what other big projects to you see completed in 2013?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Completed? Nothing completed, a lot being built.
Nick 10:56 a.m. So, I took a lengthy drive through downtown yesterday and noticed two things that were really annoying/disappointing.
Nick 10:57 a.m. 1) There's far too much brown downtown. It seems a ton of what is built in this city is brown and it's depressing.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Then you must like Level and Legacy!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Folks, I've got to log off now
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Please consider visiting me from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at the Myriad Gardens restaurant (next to the ice rink), where Jack Money and I will be signing copies of our new book, "Operation Scissortail" in the "pop-up" shop operated by Full Circle Bookstore.
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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