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.
Which neighborhood near downtown will be the next one to undergo a major transformation?
Farmer's Market. It has a solid stable anchor, unlike Uptown, where the anchors are dark and the ancillary properties are what are bringing life to the stretch. The hard work is done in Farmer's Market. It's got great ancillary building stock just waiting to be redeveloped into offices, shops, bars, restaurants and housing. It's only missing the visionaries.
What is the timeline for the city's new central park? When are they going to destroy the Original Film Exchange Buildings?
I believe most if not all of the properties have been acquired for the new park. Mayor Mick Cornett was pushing very hard for the park to open in 2014. I seriously doubt this will happen.
First consider that access will be choked off while the downtown boulevard is under construction, and work on the road has been delayed for months while the redesign is being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation last fall suggested they might be able to resume work on the boulevard by this winter. Don't be surprised if that timeline falls back even further as the feds look at a new option that calls for no middle segment of the boulevard, and instead a recreation of the original street grid.
Finally, construction got started late on a new campus for the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army's current home is in the middle of the park, and the park can not open until the Salvation Army campus is complete. So, even in a perfect world, it's difficult to see how the park construction begins before mid-2014.
As for the demolition of the original Film Exchange Building, I suspect it's not long for this world.