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.
Does Aubrey McClendon's departure from Chesapeake cast any dark shadow on the strength of CBD resurgence and development?
Good question. While Chesapeake Energy’s expansion has taken place north of downtown, the company has indirectly played a significant role in the inflow of companies moving into the central business district. I can count at least a dozen companies that moved downtown from the suburbs after their previous locations were bought out by Chesapeake. One of those companies was Cardinal Engineering, led by Steve Mason. And it was Steve Mason who then revitalized a blighted Ninth Street and 1000 block of N Broadway into very vibrant urban retail and restaurant corridors.
The pattern of Chesapeake’s growth, development of the surrounding neighborhood, was very much Aubrey McClendon’s vision.
Downtown office space, however, is the most vibrant it’s been in 40 years and it’s difficult to see any immediate impact from McClendon’s departure at Chesapeake.
When are we likely to see renderings for some of the hotels/apartments proposed for the east end of Bricktown?
Developers Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett are working with site layouts for their east Bricktown housing and hotel, but at this point their attention is on clearing the old Stewart Metal Fabricators site, removing contamination from the soil and relocating underground utilities. This is not an easy site to work with, and the developers have cautioned repeatedly this won't be a fast turn-around. Construction won't begin for at least another year.
It seems like the Tower theatre completion is the last large piece of the puzzle to really bring Uptown back to greatness. What are some of the smaller projects going happening on 23rd that could transform it?
Development is taking place on all sides of the Tower Theater. Don't be surprised if a deal emerges soon for the former KFC building. Development of The Rise, which will completely transform the old hotel/motel furniture liquidators building, also is set to begin soon.
When will we see renderings for the new convention center?
Another good question. I suspect the city will want to complete acquisition of the site before such advanced designs are commenced. They'll also want to get a lot more detailed information about possible site plans.
How long until we know who is moving to replace Pachinko Parlor?
I'm aware of restaurant operators vying for the space. So I don't think it will be empty for long.
When do you think we will see the Boulevard start construction and be complete?
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports construction will start in 2014 and be completed in 2016.
Any chance that the OKC Zoo would expand outside of their current location and build an aquarium in the downtown area? Something similar to the Dallas Aquarium?
Aquariums are pretty expensive propositions. I think it's more likely that a rail line will be established someday between the zoo and downtown.