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OKC Central Chat transcript, Jan. 24, 2014

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: January 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm •  Published: January 24, 2014

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.

NewsOK 9:31 a.m. Good morning! Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:02 a.m. Good morning!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:02 a.m. Let's get started, shall we?
Gary T 10:02 a.m. Have you heard any word on how Ed Shadid's meeting to discuss the convention center and hotel went last night?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. No. My understanding is City Hall reporter Bill Crum attended, so we might get an update from him at a later time. To be honest, I'm not expecting much new from this forum. The speaker, Haywood Sanders, is paid to travel around the country to provide an argument against convention centers and conference hotels, just as he argues consultants like Convention Sports & Leisure are paid by cities and chambers to justify why they are needed. I am not aware of an instance where CSL has recommended against building a convention center and conference hotel. I am also not aware of an instance where Sanders argues for building a convention center and hotel. One argument being cited is that this new convention center will operate at a loss. Well, yeah, that's a given with every convention center. They are considered "loss leaders" that are designed to bring in out of town visitors whose spending elsewhere is what cities hope will make the proposition profitable. This all boils down to a philosophical debate: does Oklahoma City want to compete for convention business or drop out all together?
Neal 10:07 a.m. Although I've lived in California for 27 years, I also lived in OKC for 30 years. During that time I was always interested in downtown development and dreamed to see a reversal of the devastation left by the Pei Plan. We might have even bumped into each other since I was there like you to witness the toppling of the Biltmore Hotel. Watching how Urban Renewal gutted much of downtown sickened me since I had so many great memories of the vibrant shopping, elegant movie theaters and cool old buildings that used to make downtown so interesting. That's why I'm excited by all the new downtown development. Thanks to the internet with your articles and blogs and many visits, I've been keeping tabs on OKC and initially was excited by the Core-to-Shore Park. The first Hargreaves renderings didn't exactly impress me, but I figured these were just preliminary and that the final design would go thru many rounds of revisions and improvements eventually leading to a stunning showplace park. That's why I'm flabbergasted that the City Council approved the Hargreaves plan without much improvement from the first design. There's no intimate areas or interesting buildings to give the park a sense of place. This park looks like any other City park in the country, whereas I was hoping for so much more. Those pictures of the Tulsa park you recently posted with your park article are so much better and look like some real thought went into them. Is OKC stuck with the Hargreaves design or is there any possibility the design could still be improved before they start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. Here's the deal: I keep encountering folks at city staff and city council level who seem to think it's Hargreaves that is in charge. Fortunately, I never got that email, so I have no qualms in asking if this park is the best we can expect. And that's why I wrote the blog post about these parks. (Read the whole post here: )
If you aren't happy with what you see, contact your city council representative, contact the mayor. Because the designers, city staff and city council and mayor work for you, the taxpayers. You are the boss. It's your city. This will be your park. I rarely see people in the new Bicentennial Park in front of the Civic Center Music Hall. So we know that the current folks are capable of overseeing a park project that will be used by nobody. When enough people contact City Hall, it does make a difference. The new Core to Shore park is seen as the key to revitalizing that whole blighted area and bringing in new development. Will these designs cut it? That's for taxpayers to discuss and weigh in on.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. Contact info:
James Greiner, Ward 1: email
Ed Shadid, Ward 2, emaikl
Larry McAtee, email
Pete White, email
David Greenwell, email
Meg Salyer, email
John Pettis, email
Pat Ryan, email
Mayor Mick Cornett, email
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. The phone number for the mayor's office is 297-2424.
Terry 10:15 a.m. If the Bricktown canal were expanded, where would you expand it to?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. The Myriad Gardens.
Bob 10:15 a.m. Any more info on the possibility of a Panera opening downtown or in Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. No. But we will see either a Panera Bread or its rival Corner Bakery opening up downtown.
Gary T 10:15 a.m. Any updates on Preftakes?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. Nope.
Gary T 10:19 a.m. Any word on development of the corner lot of the canal?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. Chris Johnson has continued to have discussions with potential hotel developers.
Gary T 10:19 a.m. Now that the Santa Fe Train station has been bought by the city, what is the next step?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:20 a.m. We will see an end, in all likelihood, to $20 parking in the parking lots at the station and parking of vehicles on the station's north steps and entryway. The city will proceed with design work for converting the depot into a transit hub.
Gary T 10:20 a.m. What is the latest on the auto body shop on the SW/C of 10th and Harvey?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. Nothing good. A deal was almost done last month for the spot - it was one of the properties I thought would be on downtown's Christmas list. But the site, I am told is contaminated, the building is still filled with clutter, and this may be a case where the only solution is through eminent domain.
Neal 10:22 a.m. You've mentioned how Reno Ave. (from Eastern to Bricktown) would make a great retail corridor due to it's great freeway access and exposure. Since I live in California, I'm aware of many great retail centers located directly along freeways. One in particular near downtown L.A. has the best freeway presence of any center I know. It's called The Citadel and it reused an iconic old tire factory designed to look like an Assyrian palace. Basically what is unique is how it uses the long freeway wall as a stage set to attract attention, while also incorporating a series of massive electronic signs spaced to mimic the old Burma Shave signs of the past. Behind the freeway wall, the actual shops are very typical buildings. I can envision the long stretch of property north of Reno incorporating a similar stage set freeway wall with a series of massive electronic signs. Within the retail center, possibly the central location and great freeway visibility could attract such retailers as IKEA, Target, Home Depot as well as other big box retailers. Do you think such an idea is feasible for that location or for OKC in general?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Yes, absolutely. But it won't be easy, and our city may still have to mature a bit, in terms of urban planning and public works, before such a deal can be attempted along that stretch of Reno.
Gary T 10:23 a.m. When will the Oklahoma Contemporary break ground at 11th and Broadway?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. They are still in the early phases of fundraising. Much must be done before a ground breaking is even discussed.
Gary T 10:24 a.m. When will we start to see more development between the train tracks and Oklahoma between 6th and 10th street? Once the Metropolitan opens or much sooner?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. When The Metropolitan is built, and when the railway quiet zone is completed, I expect this area to develop rapidly, connecting seamlessly with Automobile Alley and Deep Deuce.
Guest 10:25 a.m. Good morning Steve! When will we know offically what the new downtown park will consist of?
Terry 10:27 a.m. I'm still worried the engineers designing the Crosstown (Oklahoma City) Boulevard will screw it all up. I don't want to see the properties adjoining it cut off visually or access wise. Have you seen or heard anything lately regarding the boulevard design?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. Engineers are wrapping up their studies before they start up a new round of public hearings. Expect evidence to be presented arguing against the option of not building the boulevard and instead restoring the old street grid.
John 10:28 a.m. Alright Steve, last week you mentioned that we would get breaking news on a new development downtown, the following day. How long until we get the next announcement of the next development project?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. And indeed, I delivered, right? As for the next deal... next week?
Terry 10:29 a.m. I wasn't surprised the Stage Center demolition was approved so quickly. I was, however, expecting some debate as to how some of it could possibly be salvaged and moved to a new site. Have you heard of anyone interested in trying that? To be honest, I always thought the design was an expression of arrogance by the architect Johansen. While an interesting set of buildings, it was never a pretty design. It also seemed to be a confusing design and more appropriate for a suburban site than a prime downtown site. Still, I'll miss it. What I won't miss is all the years of worrying about how to make the building financially feasible.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. I've heard some interest in moving it. There was one real possibility of doing just that, but it was a stretch under the best of circumstances and this is just moving too fast for that to happen. Could parts be salvaged? Could there be a fundraiser done by selling pieces of the theater? Sure, anything is possible.
Terry, I've said many times, I can persuasively argue for and against the theater. If I were very wealthy, I'd buy it, change the base so it doesn't flood, and reopen it as a theater and children's museum. I am not wealthy, so that's not happening. And there has simply been no interest by those with the means to save this building. Yes, I met the architect John Johansen. He was brilliant. And yeah, he was arrogant when it came to Stage Center. If I have any bias at all on this matter, it's that the demise of Stage Center was set in motion by Johansen's own stubbornness and disregard for function and accommodation of tenants.
Susan 10:35 a.m. Good morning Steve. What are you hearing about developments in the Uptown District such as Guyutes, Pump Bar, SOJU Restaurant, Rehearsals and Flashback Retropub? Will they open up this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Rehearsals, I believe, is open (it's by OCU). Guyutes design is underway (a new restaurant planned for just west of Subway), and Pump Bar, Flashback, etc., all part of The Rise, are in construction and set to open later this year.
Susan 10:37 a.m. Any updates on the Tower Theater?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. No.
Kerry 10:37 a.m. Do you know if any of the new Dunkin Donuts are going to be downtown or in downtown adjacent neighborhoods?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. I know they've looked at downtown. I'm not sure if they are looking again.
Terry 10:38 a.m. I'd really like to see Broadway become the major downtown retail corridor. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to see the City extend Broadway from Sheridan to Reno (after they demolish the Cox Convention Center of course). However, two key properties on Broadway, if developed right, could really help the transition between Automobile Alley and downtown. These two properties, I believe are owned by Sandridge. The first property is the block between 4th Street and 5th Street on the west side of Broadway. The second property is the block between 5th Street and 6th Street on the east side of Broadway. These two properties would really be cool if developed with urban multistory retail such as the multi-story SuperTarget stores and the urban Crate and Barrel stores.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. I agree!
Punctual 10:38 a.m. Last week you mentioned that Aubry McClendon had cleared out the wrong side of Nichols Hills Plaza for Trader Joes. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Bet on a Trader Joe's opening up in the building on the opposite end of the shopping center, next to Coolgreens.
Punctual 10:39 a.m. What new retail is coming? Any names you can give us?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Major new retail is coming downtown that will excite downtown residents and workers.
Pat 10:39 a.m. Hi Steve, Any development news coming this weekend ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. No. Maybe next week.
Terry 10:40 a.m. Any luck yet with Union Pacific granting access beneath I-40 to allow boats, bicycles and pedestrians to go from the Oklahoma River to the Bricktown canal and vice versa?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. I think the problems that arose have been addressed and I am told this connection should open by this summer.
Terry 10:40 a.m. When is the new quiet zone along the RR tracks north of downtown supposed to be put into action?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Not soon enough for those who live and work in the area.
John 10:41 a.m. Are you getting to the point where we are over saturated with residential developments? If I counted correctly, we now have 8-9 residential developments under way or soon to be, within Downtown, Midtown, Bricktown, Deep Deuce, Automobile Alley and the Arts District.
RowerBrandon 10:41 a.m. How goes progress on OCU's Law School downtown? Such a beautiful building.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. John, not yet. But it's something I am watching.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. RowerBrandon, the old Central High is really transforming rapidly. I think it's totally on track for classes to start next year.
Interested in sausage making 10:42 a.m. You probably won't want to divulge too much of your tricks of the trade but what's involved in "tracking" a story? Who do you speak to and how often? Where do you get information from and how do you check it?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. I talk to developers, bankers, brokers, tenants, neighbors and city officials. I speak to many people on a daily basis. On some weeks, like this week, I spend more time visiting with people than actually reporting and writing. I am fortunate to have editors who understand how this works and they give me the time to delve deep into what I cover.
Guest 10:44 a.m. This is out of your focus area, but the Okla.River at Meridian now has five hotels sitting on the south bank. Does the city have any plans to improve the look of the river in that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. The hotels themselves are doing some improvements to connect to the river. I am not sure it looks that bad now.
Sleepless in OKC 10:45 a.m. Quiet Zone update? Is any work actually being done? If not, where's the bottleneck?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Bottlenecks at City Hall are often a mystery that never gets answered ...
Anthony 10:45 a.m. Have you heard anything on the tower theater building recently?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. Yes. I'm cautiously optimistic something might happen soon. But I've felt this way before.
Xavier 10:46 a.m. How much of an impact can "out-of-towners" (I live in Edmond) have in trying to get something done about the core-to-shore park? Would it just be best to email the mayor?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. I think that adding your voice to the mix can't hurt.
Anthony 10:46 a.m. Do you know of any businesses that are relocating to downtown whose primary business is not related to energy?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. Yes. The Oklahoma Publishing Company and 350 employees will be moving to Center Center next fall.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. Also, do not underestimate the impact of numerous creative firms that continue to move downtown get their starts downtown.
Jon S. 10:48 a.m. With 13 new Dunkin Donuts to emerge in the OKC metro - any word about one coming downtown? In Massachusetts we had one on every street block.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. We've seen interest in the past. Maybe downtown will get one of the new locations.
Public Works knows best 10:49 a.m. If you look up dissemble in the dictionary, it says Eric Wenger. What gem has he told you for why we still don't have angled parking on Broadway?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. This matter is up for a vote at the city's Traffic Commission.
Amaury 10:49 a.m. Any intel on the becoming of the block where the old bus station is ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Nope.
Guest 10:49 a.m. Steve, what do you think Preftakes is up to?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Conversion of One North Hudson (formerly the Hotel Black) into housing or a hotel, conversion of the bus station into a restaurant and/or music venue, and likely demolition of other structures to make way for a new office tower.
Randall 10:52 a.m. Stage Center bit the dust and now a really hip, stylish OG&E HQ will be build there. Do we have any quarantee that the 12-16 story building will be built as advertized, or they change it at the last minute and build another Kerr-McGee-type corporate HQ? (Nobody can ID the Kerr McGee Bldg in downdown, my point, it's anonymous)
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. I can guarantee it won't be built as advertized because you didn't read the full "ad." The renderings released so far are conceptual site plan models, and not a depiction of the final exterior design.
Xavier 10:53 a.m. Don't you think we need more canal level store/restaurant fronts before we even consider expanding it? It doesn't have to be exactly like the one in San Antonio but I feel the main reason why San Antonio's is so successful is because there is a lot of canal level interaction.
Randall 10:53 a.m. Why wasn't my councilwoman Meg Salyer (and other councilman) at the Bricktown Hotel to listen to Dr. Sanders talk about the proposed Bricktown Convention Center and taxpayer-supported 1,000 room hotel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. I can't speak for Meg Salyer. But this speaking engagement took place in conjunction with an initiative petition launched by councilman Ed Shadid, who didn't participate in the MAPS 3 election, to overturn the convention center part of the ballot, and Sanders' visit was paid for by Shadid. For the record, NOBODY has proposed a 1,000-room hotel (a consultant has suggested the city needs a 735-room hotel) and I've yet to see or hear a single proposal for a taxpayer subsidized hotel. No such proposal has been made or discussed yet at City Hall.
Anthony 10:56 a.m. Any word on the permanent location of the soccer stadium. I think it was mentioned at one point that the idea was to put it near the boathouse district by the river. I think that is the perfect location for it. I expect the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood to be big supporters of a soccer team.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. That would make sense!
Neal 11:00 a.m. Steve, I may have to move back to OKC just to get into the faces of the City staff and Council members to get the park design changed. In the meantime, I will write them to convince them they should expect more and get a better design from Hargreaves, much more. In the meantime I think I'll wait till spring if I move back, because temperatures here have been in the 70's and 80's for most of this winter while everyplace east has been freezing all winter.
shawnw 11:00 a.m. Can you give us a hint about who was going into the 10th/Harvey garage? Or do you know if they found an alternate location?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. It was a very respected and experienced developer of historic properties. That's pretty much all I can say.
Guest 11:01 a.m. Where was your column this week?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. The markets were closed on Monday for MLK day, so there was no business section on Tuesday. My column will be back next week.
Jon S. 11:02 a.m. Wafflehouse today?
JamesC 11:02 a.m. How much of the new development in the downtown and midtown area will have duel purposes, meaning retail and residential usage?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Yikes... double post!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Jon S., no Waffle House today. I need to eat healthier, and Waffle House just doesn't cut it.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. James C., I think we'll continue to see both residential only and mixed development.
RowerBrandon 11:03 a.m. Will power lines have to be relocated for the Metropolitan?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. I don't know. That's a good question.
Guest 11:03 a.m. Steve, how likely is the Cotton Oil Mill site to be sold and redeveloped in the near future? That is one of the most visible sites in all of OKC and virtually any use of it would be better than the current usage.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. Developers to date have had no luck closing a deal with the Cotton Oil mill that could allow anything to happen on that site.
Larry 11:04 a.m. Do you have a link to the current Boulevard design?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. Current? No.
Randall 11:04 a.m. In 2013 the stage center owners declined a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. If this would have been put on this register would it have been impossible to tear it down?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. No, not necessarily. It might have made it more difficult to get approval from the Downtown Design Review Committee, but then the owners could have still prevailed at the Board of Adjustment or in district court.
Terry 11:06 a.m. Glad to hear you mention you'd like to see the Bricktown canal extended to the Myriad Gardens. In earlier posts, I've mentioned the same idea. I'm wondering if engineering-wise it's possible to link the canal with the Myriad Gardens lake since the canal and Myriad lake may be at different levels. Maybe they could incorporate a simple lock system if the levels aren't too different. What would make it even better would be to continue that link to the core-to-shore park. Can you imagine taking a canal taxi from the Centennial Land Run Monument thru Bricktown, to the Myriad Gardens and ending up at the core-to-shore park? How cool would that be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. It's possible. Bricktown merchants and property owners worked with an engineer to show how it could be done as part of their effort to get it added to the MAPS 3 ballot in 2009. Mayor Mick Cornett was steadfastly opposed to the project being on the ballot and ensured it was not considered when the council voted on what did or did not get presented to voters.
J 11:07 a.m. Anything new in Film Row? Any suggestion as to what type of retail would work down there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. I think the proposed 21C Museum Hotel will significantly ramp up remaining development of Film Row. We may likely see more bars, restaurants and maybe even housing be developed around the old Fred Jones assembly plant.
Hank 11:09 a.m. Any big development news in the next month or two? If so, can you give us a hint?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. No!
J 11:13 a.m. Do you see any demolition starting on stage center before the Arts Festival?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. No.
Anthony 11:14 a.m. I lived in regency apartments for a year and I actually liked the sounds of the trains. At first it was annoying but once I got used to it, it became kind of soothing. Maybe I'm just weird
John 11:14 a.m. Will all the current residential development affect the chances of a high rise residential building being built?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. No, I don't think so.
JamesC 11:14 a.m. It's always good to hear "out of towners" say they want to visit downtown OKC, right?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. Absolutely.
Brandon 11:15 a.m. I'll ask the company movement question differently: Do you know of any moderate size employers, not associated with Oklahoman, moving downtown. Any out of town companies looking to relocate, that you're hearing?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. Nothing definite yet, other than the GE Research Center.
Guest 11:15 a.m. How do you not get irritated when people continue to ask the same question over and over again. It seems a lot offolks do not read the chat from the beginning.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. I don't get irritated about that. Questions get staggered, so one person may not know immediately that another person has asked the same question. I get more irritated with questions prompted by rumors and unattributed reports posted on other web sites. They don't play by the same rules, and it's difficult for me to answer honestly without getting some grief if my answer doesn't match up.
Terry 11:17 a.m. I hope Preftakes turns the old bus station into a classy jazz/ blues bar and restaurant.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. That would be great.
Mike 11:17 a.m. In response to the meridian hotels. The city has just completed the meridian landing promenade project behind the hotels it consists of a twenty foot wide decorative concrete trail that will connect the river trails with the first phases of the MAPS 3 trails. It has an overlook plaza and garden seating to enjoy the last stretch of our native river.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Thanks Mike! I knew of something like this, but no details, so I didn't want to speak out of turn.
DGinOKC 11:18 a.m. Steve I like the direcetion Downtown is headed. I will be nice when there is more after 6pm retail in the area. I live in north OKC and would love to come to downtown to shop.
Jay 11:18 a.m. Will we ever see a casino in Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. No, though there was an attempt to build one on the parking lot next to Zio's back in the early 1990s.
DGinOKC 11:18 a.m. I like the direction OKC is taking to lift itself higher. We are finally beginning to capitalize on decisions made over a decade ago.
Terry 11:18 a.m. What's the timeline for GE's construction near the Health Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. Quick! Work is set to start this spring.
Anthony 11:19 a.m. Speaking of the boat house district, when is the white water kayak amenity planned to start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. I think it's this next year. I suspect the white water venue may end up being one of the most popular MAPS 3 projects outside of the sidewalks being built citywide (which are really getting going now - I'm impressed that the city is really building them where they are needed most).
BethanySooner 11:20 a.m. Hey Steve. I also am underwhelmed by the design for new park, but in looking over the guidelines put forth by the City, it was expressed that the park be 'sustainable'. It makes me wonder if that is why we are getting a watered down version since the more complexity the more maintenance. Do you feel that this could have influenced the final design to be less than world class?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. I don't know. I wonder if the city is going to be able to get the private money forecasted by the developers as being necessary for the park to function and be maintained.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Shawnw, I am no longer responding to rumors and unattributed reports on other websites.
Mike 11:22 a.m. Cottonmill site is a real problem for development due to access issues. COuld be a long time before anything happens there. And thier asking price is very steep.
BethanySooner 11:22 a.m. If we get the park that is designed in that rendering with all the grass and open space I will want to keep an eye on the construction charges. 120 some million excluding property acquisition and A&E services is a lot of money - over 10M per acre. I would want to see each itemized expense because it appears from a laymen's standpoint that there should be significant money left over. Can you keep an eye on this as expenses are reported and keep your readers posted on your blogsite?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. Bill Crum and I are following all these different projects.
Terry 11:23 a.m. We're all still eager to hear you spill the beans about what entertainment project is being proposed in OKC that will make other cities, such as Dallas, jealous.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. I am too!
Susan 11:23 a.m. Steve, do you really think the Rise will not open up until later this year? I was hoping it would open up in May. Do you have a list of all the tenants going in the Rise?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. We'll see. You can read the list of retailers in The Rise here:
Guest 11:25 a.m. What's the latest on the quiet zone for downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. Hopefully design work has started...?
BethanySooner 11:26 a.m. I still am having a difficult time coming to grips with the demolition of the old Film Exchange Bldg on the new park site. The majority of the design calls for flat, open spaces such as lawns and the lake. This would have been one of the few vertical elements that would greatly increase the interest and character of the park. Also it would have cost the city zero assuming that there were developers interested in restoring this property. Now what we get is a less interesting park that will require funds from the park budget to demo the building. That's a lose-lose proposition. I've been impressed with the work that Hans Butzer has done, but his presence on the park committee has left me scratching my head. How does this happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. I don't know. Honestly, I don't.
John 11:26 a.m. When will the new committee for the Cultural Center get a chance to argue their case for funding to complete the project? Do you think they will keep the original purpose of the center, or maybe look to add other types of art to it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. Rep. Kyle Loveless is hoping to get it heard early in the upcoming legislative session.
Danny T 11:27 a.m. Speaking of Casinos, what are your thoughts on Barry Switzer taking over the Native American Museum? Do you feel this will make completion of the project more feasible?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. I don't think he's taking it over....
Guest 11:27 a.m. When OKC builds a new road why are there already bumps on it? Why can't OKC have smooth roads. Going out west there are already 3 bumps on the new westbound I-40 bridge between Morgan and Council? Other statees, particularly Texas, doesn't have this problem.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Honestly? The city hires contractors based on the lowest bid. They hire contractors regardless of whether they have a history of doing poor work or abandoning job sites for extended periods and busting deadlines. As long as they're bonded, licensed and qualified... and submit the lowest bid. Someone might want to shut me up now... too much honesty might make me unpopular.
John 11:29 a.m. Steve, you say there is no chance of a casino being built in Bricktown. But what if a casino group were to purchase the Coop Mill property? Could the city actually stop the group from building a casino there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. How many times have you visited the Shawnee Tribe's casino at I-35 and Wilshire? (trick question: it was opposed by the mayor and local leaders and never got approved by the feds).
Anthony 11:31 a.m. In addition to the casino comment from jay, I always thought it would be neat to have 4-6 Vegas style casino resorts out by Remington park. It could be connected to BT by an extension of the proposed light rail transit. I think the real issue is that I think everything other than card/slot games are illegal in ok. But I think a 'mini Vegas' could do wonders for tourism.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. You're on the right track now. Don't be surprised if we see further casino and race track related development at Remington Park.
Terry 11:32 a.m. Do you remember the "String of Pearls" concept to build a string of parks along what was then the dry, dusty North Canadian River? I remember one idea was to turn some of the land along the river into a buffalo herd pasture. I've always gotten a big kick out of that idea, but I still like it. I wonder if the American Indian Center would consider turning the land and man-made hill facing I-35 into a buffalo pasture. I'm sure the out-of-towners would get a kick out of it, as would I.
Alla Nazimova 11:32 a.m. When will work begin on installing tracks for the streetcar?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. I think we're still about a year or so away from that.
okcpulse 11:32 a.m. How serious is the city about following Hargreaves design recommendations for the central park? If enough opposition mounts, would they be willng to got back to the drawing board?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. If enough people contact City Hall and say they don't like it, yeah, the Hargreaves folks might discover they don't have the final say on this project after all. If the boulevard design could be reopened, anything is possible.
shawnw 11:34 a.m. Regardless of who's park _design_ is better, how on earth does Moore get a better park than us for less money in the end? Is that actually possible, or will reality result in a significantly reduced end product for Moore? I cite the "Riverwalk" project that was supposed to rival Bricktown. While it's a nice shopping center that I visit, the water feature is hardly comparable to the Bricktown canal, and I NEVER see anybody actually walking along it.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. Was "Riverwalk" really supposed to rival Bricktown? I never heard that. Weird.
Terry 11:35 a.m. I was on Meridian the other day crossing the Oklahoma River and actually that stretch of the river still looks like a natural river with tree-lined banks without the rocky erosion control banks seen in the other stretches of the river. It looks great. In fact I'd like to see the rest of the river banks converted to look more natural like at Meridian.
BethanySooner 11:35 a.m. Correction to my previous post: park budget allocation would average 1M per acre.
Hank 11:35 a.m. How will the new changes to MetroTransit (Embark) effect downtown? It's supposed to be a nice upgrade with better routes and schedules.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. I don't think we know yet.
Hank 11:35 a.m. Thanks for all that you do. I know so many people appreciate your reporting and hard work. Thank you!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. Thank you Hank!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. I'm calling it quits now. Have a great weekend!
by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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