Veteran Bricktown property owner Don Karchmer is in talks with city officials about building a 1,200- to 2,200-space garage in Bricktown with the possibility of offices or housing on the top floors.
The Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority was preparing to hire architects to design a 1,000-space garage on the city-owned land north of Main Street and west of Walnut Avenue when the privately financed parking was pitched as an alternative.
Karchmer has a long-term lease for the former rail yard and operates a 1,300-space surface parking lot on the site.
“Our designs are for 2,300 spaces, but that may end up being too aggressive,” Karchmer said Thursday. “We are in talks with major downtown property owners and companies about buying blocks of these spaces — and it can be something they can buy and sell.”
Those discussions include Continental Resources, based at 20 N Broadway, the owners of Cotter Ranch Tower (also known as Chase Tower) at 100 N Broadway, BancFirst at 101 N Broadway, and the owners of the Medical Arts Building at 100 Park Ave.
Those talks, Karchmer said, “are very positive,” and he is prepared to buy 500 spaces that he will make available to the public.
Karchmer's plan also calls for the first extension of The Underground pedestrian tunnels in a quarter century. Karchmer said he hopes to know next week whether his project will proceed, and if so, construction is set to start by September.
He hopes to construct the extension of a tunnel under E.K. Gaylord to the closest connection at the Santa Fe Garage while the street is being rebuilt as part of Project 180. The tunnel would then go under Main Street and the BNSF Railway viaduct to the front entrance of the new garage.
Karchmer said the garage is being designed to allow for expansion or development of offices or apartments on the top floors. He said interest to date leans toward development of apartments that would allow tenants to park under their residence and enjoy direct tunnel access to the Central Business District.