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The Downtown Skyline Should be Downtown, Right?

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: December 30, 2009

That was my first thought as I toured the wonderful Cityscape exhibit of the Lego skyline that is currently on display at Penn Square Mall. For those not familiar with the project, the exhibit is a fundraiser for Educare in south OKC.

The truth is, parking at Penn Square Mall just to see Cityscape is downright awful. Traffic to get into the mall is downright awful. And unless you’re ready to do some SERIOUS shopping, why would one want to go to Penn Square without wanting to shop between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?

And yet that’s the gameplan this year. It’s also my understanding that Cityscape didn’t get the space for free – and a glance at the organization’s website doesn’t show Penn Square or owner Simon Malls as a sponsor.

So my question to downtown property owners is, how badly do you want to attract visitors and regain what’s been lost this past 30 years? Sure Penn Square might be packed with thousands of shoppers. But downtown has a huge workforce, is the city’s cultural and civic heart, and promises up to 20,000 people coming at least once a week for a Thunder game, concert or other special events during the holiday season.

Concerned people won’t come? Tell that to the operators of the Devon Ice Rink. Or maybe the Snowtubing at the Brick (Hey RedHawks, have you ever considered being charitable and letting Cityscape use your special event area in conjunction with the snowtubing?). Better yet, there are several empty storefronts on the Bricktown Canal. What better way to get people to rediscover the canal level and help it reach its ultimate potential?

Sure, there are other candidates: spaces along Automobile Alley, the Great Banking Hall, Leadership Square, Film Row, MidTown…

Think about it downtown. My understanding is some of the suburban folks saw this as a chance to make money on what is truly a good cause. Let all the money go to the kids and enjoy the benefit of attention this attraction can bring to the central city.

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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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