Mayor Coats Gives Downtown Pep Talk
By Jan Paschal
Tuesday, April 19, 1983
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS
Mayor Andy Coats sounded a bit like a new coach giving his team a pep talk Monday when he told the Downtown Kiwanis Club what it will take to restore downtown Oklahoma City.
“None of the stores are going to come back to downtown on their own. It’s going to take some work on the part of our business community to make it happen,” Coats told 101 Kiwanis members at the Petroleum Club.
Coats, sworn in last Tuesday as the city’s 29th mayor, had proposed that leading downtown businesses may need to pledge some dollars to attract a nationally known department store as an “anchor tenant” for the retail Galleria shopping mall.
That idea got a cool reception last week from several business leaders. So Coats stopped short of repeating it Monday for the Kiwanians.
“You’ve got to have a lead-horse department store, a Neiman-Marcus or a Sakowitz to anchor the Galleria, because the Galleria, the Myriad Gardens and the Myriad Convention Center must all work together as a piece,” Coats said.
Coats and his predecessor, former Mayor Patience Latting, will participate in the “groundstaking” ceremonies Friday morning for the $5.45 million Myriad Gardens Botanical Bridge.
“The housewives just aren’t going to come back downtown to shop unless we make it an attractive and special place to be. To do that, we need musical events, plays, folk festivals, security and plenty of free or inexpensive parking,” Coats said.
The new mayor warned that Oklahoma City is facing “a resource crunch.”
Earlier reports had shown the city’s sales tax revenues fell $5.49 million below city budget analysts’ projections for the first five months of this fiscal year.
“We’re getting ready to go into the budget process at City Hall and they tell me they’ve identified $700 million in needed capital improvements. The truth is that we have some real problems with sewers, water lines and streets. Of course, it’s not a real problem until it’s your house that the sewer backs up in,” Coats said.
The Oklahoma City Council will consider today whether to pay three local homeowners for damages caused by backups in city-owned sewer lines.
On another downtown-related topic, Coats said the city’s lack of hotel space also is hampering development in the central business district.
We’re investigating Urban Development Action Grants to help build more downtown hotels,” Coats said.
The Oklahoma City Council will decide today whether to set a public hearing for April 26 on two applications for Urban Development Action Grants.
One grant proposal is for the construction of a 200-room hotel next to Presbyterian Hospital, NE 13 and Lincoln Boulevard. The other grant proposal involves renovation of old warehouse buildings in Bricktown in the 100 block of E Sheridan, on E Reno and E California streets. Retail shops and restaurants are proposed for the renovated buildings.