OKC Central Chat transcript, Sept. 6, 2013

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: September 6, 2013 at 11:56 am •  Published: September 6, 2013
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The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. Good morning!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Let me start off with a quick suggestion that those of you interested in some of our biggest employers in town in the energy industry, or questions in general about energy matters, should consider checking out a live chat that will take place 10 a.m. Tuesday being hosted by The Oklahoman's Energy Team. These energy chats will take place monthly.
Kim 10:07 a.m. Good Morning Steve, you had a story on The Rise a couple of weeks ago and flashback pub, any word on what other business will open up in the same building?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. I am hearing that the line-up will include some restaurants and shops, but nothing ready to be announced yet.
soonerred 10:08 a.m. Regarding the streetcar line, has there been any information as to where the expertise for maintaining the tracks, the overhead wires, & the cars themselves, will come from. Additionally, where are the streetcars coming from or who is making them? What color will they be. As far as I know New Orleans, La. made all of their streetcars & continues to add more & increase streetcar lines. Despite what one of the oil knowitalls thinks about the overhead wires, my take is that people are excited & want the ambieance here!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. The project is still a work in progress. The city council is set to take an important step forward by potentially choosing the streetcar route. At that point, the city will move ahead in choosing a streetcar and rail design. As for operation and maintenance, you have a good question. I am assuming that the city will either hire an operator or will employ experienced folks to take over such tasks.
BethanySooner 10:10 a.m. Very good morning Steve. Super exciting news about the Federal grant money for the transit hub. Mayor Cornett mentioned that this would allow streetscaping to be done on EK Gaylord, I'm assuming adjacent to the hub. I am hoping they re-engineer it to make it more pedestrian friendly. Have you seen any renderings of what is planned for this street?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Yes, there was a rendering I hoped to see published today that did not make it into print. I will be posting more about this project later today at OKC Central.
Guest 10:11 a.m. Hello steve what is the latest with the maps 3 protest from attorney slane will this derail maps 3 and is maps 3 pass a constitutional test thanks. You would have thought okc would have checked this out before they put it on the ballot or is this political movement from a mayor wanna be
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. City Attorney Kenny Jordan replied with information that would indicate the ballot is not unconsitutional. David Slane has since told local reporters he is re-evaluating whether he will proceed with the lawsuit. The public response to Slane was very negative, and rightly or wrongly, his connection to councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Shadid through consultant Andrew Speno (who also represents longtime MAPS 3 opponents at the FOP) has sparked some criticism against Shadid. There is no evidence that I know of showing there's a coordinated effort between Slane and Shadid, but critics note Shadid was quite vocal against the ballot in comments at the city council meeting just a couple days before Slane's representatives contacted reporters and he announced his intentions to sue the city over the ballot.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. Here's a story that aired Wednesday on KWTV: http://www.news9.com/category/116601/video-page?clipId=9272883&autostart=true
Kim 10:20 a.m. Once The Rise is renovated and full of new bars/retail or whatever else is going in, does it make the Tower Theater that much more valuable of a location?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. Not necessarily. If owner Marty Dillon waits too long, he could find himself with a property that can no longer benefit from historic tax credits that are deemed critical to filling in the financial gaps of paying for such a restoration. Historic tax credits have been under a lot of assault at the state legislature and I wouldn't assume they are forever safe at the federal level either. Further, the cost of borrowing is set to go up as the Fed begins to ease up on keeping interest rates low.
BethanySooner 10:23 a.m. As I was driving south on Oklahoma from 10th street, I was shocked at just how big a footprint the proposed Metropolitan Apartments will make on this area. There will be instant streetwall on the east side of Oklahoma Avenue from 6th to about 1/2 way between 8th & 9th. Have you heard anything from other developers who might be eying this area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Not yet, but you're beginning to get the right perspective as to what is set to happen. And indeed, this "streetwall" you mention happily links up with the restaurants and shops along Ninth Street, which isn't that far away from the future home of the OCU law school at the old Central High building. Add a streetcar into the mix.... and this may be just the start of major development of Oklahoma Avenue.
shawnw 10:25 a.m. So I hear we're losing bus service to the airport. Much in the way the way that Norman helps pay for the Sooner Express between downtown OKC and downtown Norman, and how Edmond provides its Citilink to downtown OKC, can airport funds not be used to fund a dedicated, frequent (hourly at least if not half-hourly) bus line that goes from the airport to (for now) the transit center (and in the future the intermodal hub)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. The airport receives a healthy oil royalties check and isn't without means, so yes, I imagine the airport trust could at least consider such a move.
Gary T 10:26 a.m. It looks like a judge ruled that the Santa Fe train station was worth $4.5 million, $2 million more than the city's first offer of $2.5 million and $19 million less than what the Brewer's think it is worth. What happens now?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. I don't think the Brewers will contest the eminent domain action itself, so with that assumption, we're looking at it being highly likely that the city will get control of the depot by late October. I wrote more on this in today's story, but it got cut due to space. I'll post it later today at OKC Central.
Kim 10:27 a.m. Last question about 23rd St., is there interest to buy the Tower from the current owners and really make complete this area? If so, is the interest local or out-of-state? I live in the area so I'm really pulling for it to be successful and thrive.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. There is plenty of interest by experienced, credible developers who have sought to buy the Tower theater. The issue, I am told again and again, is with the current owners.
Gary T 10:28 a.m. With the $13.5 million grant to renovate the Santa Fe train station, how much more is it expected to cost to get it to where it is a fully integrated multi-lodal hub? $50 million?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Um, no. Actually, this pretty much gets close to the end game on this project with funding already in place.
BethanySooner 10:29 a.m. Next week the Bricktown Urban Design Committee is set to consider the East Bricktown Apartments, the renovation of the Rock Island Plow bldg, and the construction of the Bedlam bldg on the canal. If there were just one of these proposals it would be fantastic news, but three of this magnitude at one time is just mind-boggling. Do you think Bricktown has finally turned a corner in terms of new development? What more could be expected?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. Much more is coming - though Bricktown is still struggling with a leadership vacuum that won't easily be addressed.
Guest 10:30 a.m. Hi Steve, do you think that the 13 million dollar grant from the Federal government for the Santa Fe Depot will help strengthen the Streetcar Project that the people voted for....
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Yes. It harms the argument that the city can't obtain funding for rail transit until it first enhances its bus system.
BethanySooner 10:31 a.m. It appears that Midtown north of 10th street is taking off development-wise. Are you aware of anything over 100 residential units being discussed for south of 10th area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Yes.
Sam 10:31 a.m. Are there any updates on the Native American Cultural Center? Is there a chance that the Cultural Center can be turned into a Modern Art type museum, with a section for Native American Art? I just feel like this would attract more people on a regular basis then just Native American art that you would probably just go see once. Bring in some Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Munch, Picasso. OKC could definitely change it's cultural image with such a museum.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. The next legislative session will determine what happens next; I suspect funding will be provided and work will resume.
Guest 10:32 a.m. What special capitol project do you think the anti-streetcar people and city officials who are working against the streetcar want to divert the Streetcar money to?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. That's a question better suited for a chat board.
BethanySooner 10:33 a.m. Have you found out any more info on the 4th and Walnut purchase in Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. Nope. But I did a post on another transaction nearby that you can read about at www.okccentral.com
Guest 10:33 a.m. Steve, you get to meet a lot of young entrepreneurs in OKC, in your opinion does OKC have a good talent pool when it comes to thinking outside of the box and bringing new and fresh ideas to the city? What are some of your favorite ideas for restaurants/retails/bars that you've reported on?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Yes, absolutely. Just look at everything that is taking place on the 16th Street Plaza District. I'm amazed at the creativity, innovation and good sense on display amongst its restaurant owners and merchants.
I think Greg and Jennifer Seal are moving mountains with all they've done with Grandad's and revitalization of Uptown both as a district and as a brand I once wrote off as dead and buried (I was wrong). Allison Bailey is so innovative I struggle to come up with a title for her other than retail consultant, though she is so much more than that (she is the key player in the emergence of pop-up shops in our city). Andy Burnett and Zach Martin are putting together deals both as brokers and as developers that other much more experienced folks had written off as being too difficult to attempt. Go to 1212 N Walker and you'll see the brilliance of our young entrepreneurial community on display at Waffle Champion and Blow/Dry. I could go on and on with this list. As for favorite upcoming projects, I love the designs and concepts for Pump and Flashback RetroPub, both planned for The Rise.
Nick 10:40 a.m. Good morning, Steve! I hope your son is feeling better from the Chobani.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Yes, but Chobani is still refusing to identify the mold contaminant that was in the yogurt my son and many others ate while the company quietly pulled the bad product from store shelves for a full week without alerting their customers about the health hazard posed by their yogurt.
BethanySooner 10:41 a.m. It appears that the surface parking lot at the SW corner of Lee and Main was recently resurfaced. Probably means this one won't be going away any time soon. Give us some hope Steve that west Main Street is going to be populated with new buildings in the very near future.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. That lot actually has better ownership now with Dennis Box, and I encourage you to consider the improvements he has already done on that block including his law office building and the former Grace Cleaners. I'll give you more than hope for Main Street - I will tell you that based on what I know now, I really believe your dream will come true within the next decade.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. I realize a decade seems like a long time for some of you. But for me, at this time in my life, it goes way too fast.
Jason 10:43 a.m. Are statues being added to the land run monument on the south end of the canal? If so, how many more pieces will be added when it's all done?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. Yep. I believe the total count will be 45 pieces.
Nick 10:46 a.m. How big a victory do you think it is that OKC finally won a substantial TIGER grant? Does this help push the city council to approve the streetcar at their next meeting?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. I can't imagine the grant hurting the chances for the streetcar project. This TIGER grant is a big deal. It is the equivalent of when the city received federal funds to assist in the original MAPS revival of the Oklahoma River. The MAPS budget called for minimal improvements outside of the three dams. The federal funding ensured the project was done right with a full set of trails and ample landscaping, parking lots and other amenities.
Larry 10:47 a.m. Can you give a general rundown of all the Downtown and vicinity projects currently underway or planned for the not-to-distant future, for somebody who may not follow this stuff that closely? Or direct me elsewhere, either way!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. I'm planning to do just this with blog posts at OKC Central this next week.
Joe 10:48 a.m. Good Morning Steve! First time caller, long time listener. ;) Because of all the comments the last few weeks around the mayoral race I decided to educate myself and had at least one question that I thought you might have some helpful info on. Are there any real-estate developer trade groups or business/neighborhood/district associations that are along the newly proposed streetcar corridors that are interested in partnering with the city in some sort of mutually-beneficial (i.e. financial) way? Maybe a special tax to help with funding of operations in return for any measurable economic impact from the route? This was an idea that Ed Shadid floated at the transit townhall as having been done in Portland (i think?) which was intriguing to me but wasn't sure what that looked like and whether anyone in the business sphere of OKC has been talking about yet? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Cathy O'Connor, president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, gave a report on possible funding that might be generated through a business improvement district or special assessment, and this possibility is being looked at.
Pat 10:49 a.m. Good Morning Steve - SC floor count ? Your latest knowledge is appreciated. Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. Got nothing new for you right now.
Doug 10:50 a.m. I understand that almost all of the MAPS funding dedicated to sidewalks has been allocated. What is the next opportunity for new monies dedicated for this purpose? Will it have to wait until the next bond package?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. As I recall, the city was looking at going into it's reserve fund to augment construction. This is a good question for our city hall reporter Bill Crum, who I hope to have as a guest on live chat in the next week or two.
guest 10:51 a.m. Hi Steve-- Any news on the future of the Film Exchange building highlighted in your blog post a few weeks ago?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Nope.
Guest 10:51 a.m. When do you think Rock Island building renovations will be completed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Probably 2015.
Guest 10:51 a.m. What's the plan for Bob Howard's building on 10th and Broadway?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Housing or offices with a retail mix.
Bob 10:51 a.m. Good Morning. The last part of the transit hub story talked about the amount determined for the purchase price for the station. I am guessing that the Brewer's were asking a lot more than that.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Yeah. The rest of that got cut from the story. I'll post it at OKC Central later today.
Guest 10:52 a.m. Anything new on rumored new tower west of Devon Building (not the Rainey Williams tower)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Nope
Doug 10:52 a.m. I recall that at least one architect was quoted by The Oklahoman as stating it would be a viable option for the developer of the newly-announced high rise to incorporate the existing Stage Center structure into the larger design. I love the creativity of that idea and could certainly envision the iconic structure within an enclosed atrium of the new building. Any chance?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I don't know. It is intriguing though.
Guest 10:52 a.m. A recent Oklahoma Gazette article on midtown had an offhand remark regarding plans for Cafe do Brasil to expand their rooftop space. Do you have any more info on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Just that I've heard the same thing.
Guest 10:53 a.m. Also steve i was told the other day by one of the bricktown canal boat operators not to refer to the new water way as an extentsion of the brick town canal he said its not and extension but a waterway for the bigger boats to get in from the river he told me there are rumors the canal will be extented south from chelinos under reno then west to the peake have you heard this too steve thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. I pity Chad Huntington, manager of the Water Taxis who has to deal with such talk. So, here it goes... the addition being wrapped up now is an extension of the Oklahoma River inlet, not the canal, so on this your driver was correct. As for a canal extension - nope, it's not happening.
JOe 10:55 a.m. I'm with Kim on seeing the Tower theater being restored. My wife and I have lived in and around that area for 8 years now and have seen the neighborhood associations to the north really start to congeal and become more active. Is there any way the public can put pressure on the owners to sell or finish renovations?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. I believe you can contact Mary Dillon at the corporate offices of his family's business, Party Galaxy.
Jason 10:55 a.m. Any chance that MAPS 3 will have to be extended an extra year to fully fund some of the projects? Similar to MAPS 1? Do you see that having an effect on MAPS 4, or are these projects so important to the city that citizens don't mind the 1 cent sales tax?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. No and no. MAPS 3 is not in that much trouble on project budgets or timelines. Much of the concern now is related to whether Mayor Mick Cornett and the city council in 2009 spent enough time looking at the viability of some projects and how to pay for operations and maintenance.
Dowtown Sally 10:57 a.m. Interesting comment about Bricktown leadership vacuum. In your opinion, when was there leadership and what is cause of current vacuum? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Whether one agreed with his leadership or not, the late Jim Brewer was absolutely a figure who had to be listened to when he was still alive.
MB 10:58 a.m. Pass on to you readers Steve that the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has launched a monthly Sidewalk Astronomy program in conjunction with the First Friday Gallery Walk in The Paseo . . . another fun reason to drop by there this evening and every month.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Very cool. Is this open to kids with a telescope, no experience in using it, but a passion to learn?
Dowtown Sally 10:58 a.m. We have a great museum with wonderful permanent and temporary exhibits with both traditional art and contemporary art. Also, Oklahoma Contemporary Center is in the works.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I agree.
Nick 10:58 a.m. Have you spoken to Marty Dillon about the Tower Theatre? What is it that's holding him back? Inexperience? Unwillingness to put forth the effort on the project? Money?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Not in the past few months. Each time I have spoken to him though, the answers have pretty much been the same. He doesn't really have the experience to start up such a project, yet he's not showing much enthusiasm for selling the Tower and bringing in more experienced partners.
Tim 11:00 a.m. I've been out of the loop, but anymore news on updating Oklahoma's liquor laws?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I think there are still folks busy at work on this matter.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. FYI - I will not be doing two hours again today. If you've not posted yet, please reserve any further questions and comments for next week's chat.
Pat 11:00 a.m. With the whitewater addition to the Boathouse district, do you see any other type of development in the immediate area ? Hotels, retail, etc.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. The foundation is very interested in seeing a Great Wolf Lodge of the equivalent added into the mix.
Guest 11:01 a.m. You seem confident that more is coming for Bricktown. Can you please tell us what you're hearing about? Also, why did Marva Ellard leave the Mideke building project?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Marva Ellard officially ended her participation in the Mideke project on Tuesday. The partnership had taken on additional players, and they just ended up with too many voices at the table. This is not a reflection on Ellard or the other partners - it's just a reality in the development world that is fairly routine among those who follow it.
CeCe 11:03 a.m. I know you're excessively busy reporting on the frequent developments of Downtown, but do you have any plans to make a post, article, or blog with information for aspiring real estate developers? I learn so much from this weekly chat and would love to learn more
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Yes.
Joe 11:03 a.m. I know there are a lot of property owners (i.e. "slumlords") who are holding onto property in the small residential neighborhoods south of the new Boulevard, north of I-40, and west of the new park. What are the discussions for planned zoning in that area? Will it stay residential if it is cut off by an unwalkable boulevard? What is the proposed/realistic timeline for any development in that area? Are there any developers seriously interested in the west side of Core to Shore at this point?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. Yes, there are serious developers interested in Core to Shore, and I suspect we will see significant housing built up once the park is built and opened.
Gary T 11:04 a.m. The Hill in Deep Deuce is obviously selling very well and all of the apartments in the area are fully leased before they even open. Are there any for sale developments downtown that you are worried about? I am talking specifically about the Brownstones, Maywood Lofts, Block 42 or Central Avenue Villas.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. I'm not really worried about any of these developments.
Gary T 11:04 a.m. I saw on zillow.com that there are condos for sale and it doesn't look like they have been built yet. Zillow is showing the location as just west of the Brownstones on the north side of NE 3rd street, almost to the train tracks. Do you know anything about this future development?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Yes. Ron Bradshaw is preparing to build additional housing in the near future.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. What kind of retail establishments can we expect to move into Automobile Alley in the next year or so?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. We're going to get more retail, but at this moment, I'd rather let those retailers get the first shot at sharing the news.
Gary T 11:06 a.m. What is the latest on the proposed Don Karchmer parking garage? If the city insists on keeping the ROW open for future Adventure Line District rail, could the parking garage just be moved to the east and but up against the Walnut Bridge? That would give good parking access to DD overflow, Holiday Inn Express being built south of there and all the other development going on in the area.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Conversations are still going on behind the scenes.
Gary T 11:06 a.m. Since things are under way for the building of House of Bedlam west of the Ballpark, is it safe to say Chris Johnson's renovation of the old Joker's comedy club on the corner of Central and Sheridan has been put on hold?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. No.
Brian 11:06 a.m. Guestimate on how many new towers (20+ floors) in the next 20 years? =]
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. At least thee.
BethanySooner 11:07 a.m. You said that Bricktown is struggling with a leadership vacuum. What, in your opinion is the solution? Is this a government regulated area, or is it run independently by each owner? I personally have a hard time understanding how we still have unfinished buildings at canal level that at the very least could be cleaned up and landscaped. I would be embarrassed for the public to see something I owned left in that condition.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. New players rising up to the challenge.
Pat 11:07 a.m. Hi Steve, Guthrie has several historical signs throughout their downtown district revealing historical notes. It would be cool if some type of historical signs could be errected to reflect the older buildings on film row. Would this be a feaseable project ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Yes. And I agree.
Gary T 11:07 a.m. What is the latest on the railroad quiet zone?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. Funding was awarded at the last council meeting.
Gary T 11:08 a.m. With OCU law school going in the old Central High School downtown, what do you think the best use of the Fred jones Building on Main and Classen would be? How long until it is repurposed? 10 years?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. housing
Gary T 11:08 a.m. When can we expect the parking garage expansion on the south side of NW 4th street between Hudson and Harvey to be completed?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. In a about a year
Gary T 11:08 a.m. I know you talk about a new residential high rise being built in the next 5-10 years, probably in the C2S area. Would you expect the rents to be close to Regency ($600-$835 for a studio, $900-$1150 for a 1 BR, $1,100-1,275 for 2BR and $1,500-$1,800 for a penthouse) and in size (22 stories or taller)?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Rent will be higher.
Waffles 11:09 a.m. Where would you look to find who owns a commercial piece of land if it is not listed for sale by the owners? There are several empty lots to the west of the future park that need some TLC. I may even want to put in a Wafflehouse, I have heard there is a lot of demand for one in the downtown area lol. Thanks Steve
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Contact one of the downtown brokerage firms.
MB 11:09 a.m. Absolutely, people can bring their own telescopes and club members will help them out.
BethanySooner 11:10 a.m. You mentioned that the city will be replacing dead trees south of the Chickasaw ballpark. These need to be large trees! The ballpark has high masonry walls and the sidewalk looks to be 25-30 feet wide through that area. Add to the fact that Reno is wide and has virtually no landscaping and you've got an uninviting urban oven through there. Does the city employee landscape architects, and is there a master plan for making Reno more pedestrian-friendly through Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. OK folks, that's it. Have a great weekend!

by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
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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