OKC Central Chat transcript, May 2, 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: May 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm •  Published: May 2, 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 9:33 a.m. Good morning. Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Gary T 9:59 a.m. Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you! Loved your article today on the Plaza district and I am excited to see what Oak and Ore brings to the area. Do you think a craft beer restaurant will fit in to that area nicely with Empire being right next door, Saints and The Mule down the street?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Yes I do, and more importantly, the smartest mind in the city when it comes to urban core small retail, Allison Bailey, thinks they're a good fit. I can't emphasize enough how much I love this project. The building being redeveloped by David Wanzer was really the last truly unsightly property left along NW 16, and the restoration of the original facade adds a lot of character to the street. The Plaza District evolved a bit in reverse in that it started out with a great mix of shops and retailers, but always needed a good mix of restaurants and bars. That has now taken place, and I can't imagine a better example of an urban district thriving despite a lack of parking or immediate access to a major traffic corridor. The Plaza District stands as a reminder that if everyone involved is committed to changing the rules of the game, they will win and create a place that is very special.
Gary T 10:04 a.m. With 21c going into the old Ford Plant, Chip Fudge's reno of yet another Film Row building, the apartments on 4th and Shartel and all the police and courthouse buildings going up, it seems like there is a lot of movement towards the western part of downtown. What other kind of developmenet can we expect for this area in the next couple of years?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. I think we have to pay careful attention to what is proposed by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation next week for the new boulevard that will be built through this area. Will the choice be given to the community free of any backdoor politics, heavy-handed influence or a weighted advantage given to the engineers over the planners? Have planners and engineers in the city both been given a chance to weigh in on the options? Will the Oklahoma Department of Transportation provide the same amount of funding for all four options, including restoration of the street grid?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. The new boulevard could spur redevelopment of the area west of downtown or kill it for decades.
Terry 10:07 a.m. Good morning Steve, congrats to you and Brianna for winning 1st place for Business reporting at the recent Oklahoma Professional Journalists ceremony. I really enjoy participating in your weekly chats as well as keeping up with your insightful and interesting downtown reporting, I find myself learning all sorts of facts not only about current development, but also about the history of OKC. So as a development and history buff, I want to thank you for all that you do.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Thank you so much! Two years ago Brianna Bailey was my competitor at another newspaper, and she was one of the toughest rivals I ever worked against. I won't lie - I went to my bosses urging them to try to hire Brianna. She's proven to be a top notch reporter and writer, and I don't think our coverage of Chesapeake would have fared as well with judges if I had been the sole author and reporter. Brianna brought a lot of complimentary skills and abilities that really expanded our overall scope and insight into what was taking place with Chesapeake's commercial real estate after the departure of Aubrey McClendon as CEO. Throughout my career at The Oklahoman, I've benefited greatly from working around very smart and talented folks.
Gary T 10:11 a.m. Do you think Allison Bailey's pop-up shops will defy the name and open up permanent locations? Maybe the midtown area to the south of the building that houses Saturn Grill and Gogo sushi?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. Don't you think Bailey's pop-up shops would be a great addition to the Bleu Garten food truck plaza?
Gary T 10:12 a.m. With the continued construction of The Edge apartments in Midtown and the addition of the Lisbon Lofts and Lift apartments scheduled to break ground at 10th and Shartel, it seems like Midtown is experiencing a resurrgence like never before. What's next for this area besides the continued expansion of H&8th?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. A grocery store worthy of the neighborhood's patronage.
Gary T 10:12 a.m. With the arts festival over, when will we see demo start on Stage Center? Are there any ongoing efforts to save pieces to use elsewhere in the city?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. Stay tuned. I'll have an update on this soon.
Terry 10:13 a.m. I sent an e-mail to Union Pacific asking why they haven't allowed access to pedestrian and water traffic beneath the I-40 and Union Pacific RR tracks. Their PR guy replied there are complicated liability issues being discussed with the City that are nearing completion. It seems Union Pacific isn't comfortable allowing use of the pathways and waterway until they are certain everyone who uses it is covered. He also mentioned that due to communication gaps they never had the opportunity to discuss an agreement with the City until the construction was finished. I don't know, maybe the City dropped the ball by not discussing the issue with Union Pacific until construction was completed. He did say negotiations are in their final phase and that they should have it resolved in a very short time frame. I hope he's right and that the time frame is days or a few weeks at worst. However, if it drags on thru summer, we'll have missed a great opportunity to use it during the peak tourist season. I hope this isn't the pattern we'll see from Union Pacific and Santa Fe each time a crossing is proposed over or under their tracks, such as the opening thru the RR viaduct from Bricktown to the Santa Fe station or say a pedestrian crossing over Union Pacific's tracks to connect Oklahoma Ave. between Main St. and 2nd St. By the way do you know if the new boulevard is supposed to tunnel thru the Santa Fe RR viaduct or bridge over it?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Documents show the railroad dropped the ball on this when there was no follow-up on agreements approved by one of their guys prior to retirement. I also hear there may be some politics going on to steer people toward using the Oklahoma River Cruisers as a means to get under the bridge. I don't know of anyone who is happy with how this whole matter has been handled.
Anthony 10:15 a.m. With the news of the two new places in plaza, it looks like there is little left to develop, commercially, on 16th street. Do you envision a developer purchasing a swath of the houses west of the 'plaza core' and rezoning to commercial? Would eminent domain come into play? Would it be possible in the future for the okc govt to force eminent domain on behalf of a private company? I don't know the extent of the law and in no way am I suggesting I'm in favor of it, but I was just wondering if this could happen in the future.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Nope. I don't think the city would allow for such conversions, and I don't think the neighborhood would see it as a healthy change either. I do see a couple of places where the tenant mix could easily be "upgraded." There also are a couple of vacant lots and mixed properties where such development can take place as well.
Terry 10:17 a.m. I couldn't help chuckling when you mentioned last week that the owner of the old Rainbow Records at 23rd & Classen has a vacuum cleaner museum in the building. Sign me up, I gotta see those Hoovers! But seriously that corner has been neglected way too long. Parking is a definite issue, but if enough parking could be provided in the rear, that entire corner, including the 3 buildings to the west and the Asian Plaza to the north could become a real asset to the area. It could be a smaller version of The Rise with most of it's parking in the rear, thus preserving the original art deco facades. P.S. I'm curious what's behind those panels and awnings on the 3 buildings west of Rainbow Records. Maybe other hidden gems with art deco detailing?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. I know more hidden facades are awaiting discovery along NW 23, and I can't wait to see a time when these properties end up with developers like Jonathan Russell who have shown they know how to find and restore such gems. As for the "vacuum cleaner museum," I agree, this property can thrive without parking and did just that for years as home to Rainbow Records.
jet 10:19 a.m. Good Morning Steve, Do we really miss the penny? Remember how some people used to disparagingly refer to the Bricktown Canal as a ditch? Now it’s hard to find anyone who didn’t vote for the original MAPS-which barely passed. Can you imagine what this city would look like today and the void we’d have without MAPS? What wouldn’t be here now? Here are some things would probably be missing from OKC today: -The Thunder (and arena) - Lower Bricktown - The library - The Redhawks (89’ers) - Devon tower (probably Devon itself)- Bass Pro – Skirvin - The Oklahoma river and amenities - Deep Deuce infill - Midtown upgrades – Plaza District renovation – Automobile Alley shops/restaurants – OKC school upgrades – OKC Art Museum – maybe 10 hotels and a whole bunch of people. What are some others?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Are you telling me state lawmakers may be out of touch by thinking the only thing voters want, and the only thing that can help the state is to constantly cut or eliminate taxes regardless of how they might be used to spur economic opportunity and quality of life?
Anthony 10:21 a.m. Is something going on at the auto shop near 5th and classen?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Not that I'm aware of...
jet 10:21 a.m. Steve, I know it would be a bunch of work but have you thought about making an on-line gallery of historic buildings that have been or are being renovated?. Perhaps showing the before and after. Maybe including photos/your stories/and or videos? Or maybe even a coffee table book?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. I like you jet. Consider this a thank you in advance.
Anthony 10:22 a.m. Any new info on the oge building? Thanks again for answering our questions!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. We should have an update soon.
Terry 10:23 a.m. What do you think will be the impact on the OCU main campus by the move of the Law School to downtown? Do you think this will take away from the unity of the students at OCU or help OCU to diversify say by adding new degree offerings in the leftover space that is currently occupied by the Law School?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. I think the OCU law school students will be every bit as wired in and loyal to the university as those on the main campus. OCU has already indicated this move will allow for expansion of other programs, so I doubt it will really diminish the main campus population. The new law school, meanwhile, will cause a pretty significant transformation of an area that to date had lagged behind the redevelopment of the remainder of Midtown to the west and Automobile Alley to the east. Expect the area to fill in with housing and retail.
Neal 10:25 a.m. I was sad to hear the state legislature is holding up the funding to finish the Indian Cultural Center. I heard they were balking at voting to fund $40 million even if another $40 million could be raised by private donors. Do you know how much they've been able to raise in private donations yet? This project is a sure winner for OKC, for the tribes and for the entire state as well. It needs to be finished and finished right, not value engineered down to a shell of it's original intent.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. How is it responsible - or being fiscally conservative - to refuse to complete a museum that the STATE LEGISLATURE started and approved with NO ASSUMPTION of private contributions by the tribes or civic leaders (which is now on the table). And how is it fiscally conservative to simply refuse suggested funding resolutions and not come up with an alternative plan for completing a project that the state already has invested $90 million? Is it fiscally conservative to say "ah, screw it, let that $90 million of taxpayer investment go to rot!" Please, someone, explain this to me. And don't give me, well, the tribes should fund it, because they didn't start this, they don't own it, and they have given millions anyway. And don't tell me you don't like how the project was managed, so not a penny more goes toward it. How do you resolve this without wasting $90 million in taxpayer investment?
Neal 10:30 a.m. Steve, I love the alligator story about your state senator, but Oklahoma isn't the only state suffering from a bad state legislature. Here in California we're in big trouble because our state government is dominated by Democrats (approximately 70% in both the Senate and State Assembly). I think Oklahoma has a lesser, but similar problem, except from a Republican super majority. Another problem, I believe, is term limits. Yeah, I know it's supposed to keep political hacks from dominating, but we seem to constantly get these fresh-faced kids who know nothing about what a state government should actually be doing and quickly get corrupted by the PACs. Another thing that would definitely help, at least here in California, would be to go with a part-time legislature. This forces them to act and prevents too many silly and/or restrictive laws from being passed. We're being nanny lawed to death out here. When I last lived in Oklahoma in the 70's and 80's the state government was actually pretty efficient and the parties did at least cooperate with each other. Now they sound like they're on a power trip. Maybe I'll move back to OKC from California and run for state senator myself and try to bring centrist politics back into vogue. For my campaign I can post a picture of my foot squashing an armadillo lying on it's back clutching an empty bottle of Lone Star beer. That should ensure the votes of my fellow Sooner fans. Now I just need something for the Cowboy vote.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. Usually I could care less about state politics. But the silliness at NE 23 and Lincoln is starting to damage momentum in Oklahoma City and downtown itself. I have no alliances to left or right. I'm a political agnostic - I acknowledge politicians exist, I just don't believe in them.
Coy 10:32 a.m. Any word on what the lot full of dirt next to where the Bleu Garten is set to be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. The dirt was removed for construction of the Dust Bowl and Fassler Hall and will be used to level out drainage problems on the Harvey block.
Nick 10:32 a.m. How was the layout for the new law offices in Core 2 Shore approved unanimously? Looks like Core 2 Shore is going to wind up as another Lower Bricktown with surface parking everywhere and poor layouts.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. OK.
Terry 10:33 a.m. I'll bet OU hasn't started construction of their boathouse yet because they didn't want to be sitting out there all alone on the east end of the Boathouse District before the UCO and SandRidge Pavilion are built. I also think they're probably satisfied for now leasing space for their boats (I believe from the original Chesapeake Boathouse) which is probably saving them some cash for the time being. Now that UCO boathouse has started construction and the zip-line is going in, it probably won't be long until we hear OU schedule their groundbreaking date. The Boathouse District is already amazing and I can't wait to see what it will look like with the white water park, pavilion w/ indoor surf pool, zip-lines, grandstand, wind barriers AND the completed boathouses. Then the possibility of a Great Wolf Lodge and pump bike track will solidify this place as a must see and must do.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. I share your enthusiasm. I really hope the area comes up with a unified branding effort that includes an all encompassing name - something like "River Sports Park."
Terry 10:35 a.m. Can you explain why NW 10th Street between Klein and Virginia has no buildings on the north side and widens to a divided roadway with a nice wide landscaped median? What's the plan here?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Once upon a time, NW 10 between Western Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenues was an over capacity two-lane street with an assortment of old homes, some nice, some not so nice, on both sides. A bond issue was passed, the city bought out all the homes on the north side of the street and the road was widened. That project left the city with an expanse of property on the north side of the street that it still owns and maintains. I've seen a development proposal, with renderings, that was pitched to the city that included homes facing the street with garages and driveways built in the rear to a new alley that would serve this development. I could never get any explanation from the city as to why they never seriously entertained this pitch or gave the developers a full hearing. From what I saw and observed, it seemed as if no one at City Hall was even sure who should entertain such a pitch. This was just a year ago, and is one of many times where I've observed how important it is to get a champion in the city staff before attempting a public-private venture. For the life of me, I have no idea why this one didn't fly, and I could never get a good read from those who typically would be involved in considering such deals.
Terry 10:44 a.m. Steve, I'm curtailing my jokes about Bicentennial Park and how I never see anyone there. You see I used to be upset at Rand Elliot for ripping out all the mature trees and wondering if he designed the new park to look good only to aliens from outer space rather than at eye level. But I've been thinking how different this park is from all the others downtown and that's a good thing. Downtown needs variety. In fact, I believe in chaos because it keeps people on their toes and makes cities more interesting. However, Bicentennial Park is not chaos. It reeks of order and that's good too, especially since the park serves as the front lawn to the Civic Center Music Hall and City Hall and doesn't need people in it to be a success. The park will look even better as the trees and landscaping mature over time. So I'll be happy to wait and watch, kinda like a new home owner who has just installed new landscaping in the front lawn of their brand new home. In fact most new home owners get PO'd if they see someone stepping onto their nice new lawn. Maybe I'm starting to understand where Rand Elliot is coming from.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. I have no idea how to respond to this.
Terry 10:45 a.m. Is it still possible the Cotton Producers CoOp will move to the old Dayton Tire factory in 2019 as they once proposed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. I don't think so.
Terry 10:45 a.m. I was wondering if you were feeling a bit safer this morning about making the move to your new downtown offices? What I mean is with the ATF, IRS and other federal agencies moving from their current offices at 55 N. Robinson, I figured you might feel more comfortable without them located directly next door. After all it was the ATF that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were out to destroy that day in 1995. I was actually surprised to hear the ATF (and the IRS) weren't located in the new federal building on 6th St. That building is built like a fortress. By the way are the new owners of 55 N. Robinson planning on changing it's use from office to some other use?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. We live in a world where we are kidding ourselves if we think any one place is safer than another. As for the future of 55 N Robinson, my gut tells me it will somehow be home to employees of an energy company.
Guest 10:49 a.m. We met some friends who were playing music at the farmers' market on Cherry in Street in Tulsa last weekend. They were impressed by the festive atmosphere on the street. The Saturday market is centrally located and has helped the retail businesses in the neighborhood. It is really fun, the produce is good, the breakfast burritos from the Palace are so fine and we hear great music when we go. So...why not do this on the Paseo on Saturdays instead of at OSU, which, no offense, is pretty boring and out of the way for many. I attended a seminar last night at the Farmers Market building and realize that is ideally the best place for a farmers' market but that seems so stuck as a rental space. What do you think?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I love Cherry Street in Tulsa. As for the OSU-OKC farmer's market, if I had a time machine, I'd travel back 50 years and insist it be built not at NW 10 and Portland but rather at NW 10 and Western.
Neal 10:50 a.m. Since I haven't lived in OKC since the late 80's could you tell me what all the controversy was about regarding SandRidge. Not it's corporate business day-to-day dealings, but it's downtown building expansion plans.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. The controversy a couple of years ago involved their demolition of three older buildings on the campus. I think a lot of people still regret SandRidge tore down the India Temple building at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr, which now appears to be fated to be a plaza for the indefinite future now that the company is under different leadership with a different focus.
Coy 10:54 a.m. How do you feel about modern developments in a community like the Paseo where primarily all of the buildings were built no later than the 1950s? And how do you feel the uptown development will affect the Paseo?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. I think the Uptown development is great for the Paseo. The area is governed by design ordinances so I'm not too worried about projects that appearance wise might not be a good fit.
Terry 10:56 a.m. I thoroughly enjoyed the Arts Festival this year. Maybe more so because it's probably the last year we'll still have Stage Center as a backdrop. Even in it's sad current state, it still has a certain elegance about it that Rainey William's tower will never match. With all the vacant land still available downtown why is this landmark going to be replaced with what appears will be a boiler plate design with only a mid-rise (14-16 story) tower. I'm not asking that his proposal be another Devon, but it should at least aspire to more than what's proposed due to what it's destroying in the process.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Location, location, location.
John 10:56 a.m. In accordance with your papers sports headline from yesterday. Who would you say is Mr. Reliable and Mr. Unreliable when it comes to Oklahoma City development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Um, yeah. I have no idea what you're talking about.
Terry 10:56 a.m. 14. Do you think the Planning Commission overstepped it's authority by demanding the Guyutes owners submit a Simplified Planned Unit Development (SPUD) application just to obtain an AB2 layover license?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. If they did, attorneys will challenge the ruling. But quite honestly, I can't see how there isn't a compromise available here that will make everyone happy and often it's the PUD process that best facilitates such resolutions.
Anthony 10:58 a.m. In response to Gary T's initial Q: I think oak and ore will be fine there are always waits for tables at the mule and empire during the week and weekend. It will develop its own regulars and host spill over from those 2 as well. At this point almost any well managed restaurant local restaurant concept will do well in the plaza
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I agree.
Ronaldo Rivera 10:58 a.m. Now that the Arts Festival is over... Do you think we will see the OG&E design soon? Do you think it will be substantially different than the first proposal?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. I don't know if we will quickly see more designs.
Bob 10:59 a.m. Any word on a Panera downtown? What is going to happen with the bus station?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. That prospect has appeared to get cold.
RowerBrandon 10:59 a.m. A cool project would be to gather clips of OKC from each of the past playoffs, from TNT or FoxSports, and make a neat time-lapse of the progression of the city as each year passes!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. Dear Dan Mahoney ....
Terry 11:00 a.m. What's to become of Shepherd's Mall? It seems a lot of the government offices are moving to new digs. Will it re-evolve back into a retail center or just find new office tenants?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I don't know. They seem to be managing to find some replacement tenants, but the exodus is of concern and the mall is an important anchor to the area.
Perry 11:00 a.m. Hello Steve, Costco store is coming up in tulsa. Do you know if OKC will also be getting a costco store?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. Eventually.
Bob 11:01 a.m. Do you think the opening of Blue Garten will have an impact on H&8th?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Nope. I wondered the same thing, but then I saw how H&8th thrived during a very busy, beautiful Friday night at the Arts Festival nearby. Our city is big enough to provide crowds for multiple venues. I also believe that H&8th is growing to a point where it will simply hook up with Bleu Garten.
Nick Emenhiser 11:02 a.m. What kind of precedent is going to be set for private development by the abysmal site plan of the new law firm on S. Walker and 15th? How did this get through the design review process AND win a VARIANCE so quickly??
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Because the design committee disagreed with your criticism of the project.
Chad 11:03 a.m. With the tenants leaving Shepherd Mall in droves what do you expect will happen to the mall?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Droves? Meh. But yeah, it's a concern. Hopefully the ownership won't be stupid and will get aggressive at finding new tenants and ensure they're kept happy. I seriously question whether Social Security moving to suburban north Oklahoma City/Edmond is in the best interests of those who are most in need of the agency's services. Was this site driven by the desire to best serve taxpayers or to provide a great rent paying tenant for a developer of an awkward suburban sprawl site?
Guest 11:05 a.m. What's the latest on the Steel Yard? Any word on the hotel development associated with that project?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. The site is progressing, though it hit some additional site clean-up issues as I predicted. Expect news about a Hyatt Place to come out fairly soon.
Andrew 11:06 a.m. I heard Trader Joe's is looking for a location downtown. Is there any truth to this?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m.
Guest 11:07 a.m. Do you think Native Roots would do better business in Midtown versus its current location in DD?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. No.
Guest 11:07 a.m. What's the holdup on Maywood Apartments Phase II?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. They're finalizing plans and work should begin soon. Delays happen.
Bob 11:08 a.m. Do you think that next years Arts Festival will be primarily contained in the Myriad Gardens? I would think that the tower construction might make it difficult to use the Plaza.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. That's hard to say, because we don't know if the Stage Center site will simply be cleared at that point or if the tower site construction will have begun.
RowerBrandon 11:08 a.m. For Terry's question, OCU is gaining a PA program with the science department moving and expanding the old law building
Vowl 11:08 a.m. Tell the railroads it sucks to drive under their bridge at NW Western, but I imagine it is safe....Would I be hurt walking under it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Not sure which bridge you're talking about.
Ladd 11:09 a.m. Has there been a date set for the groundbreaking of the whitewater park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. I'm hearing it will be this year.
Guest 11:09 a.m. I heard that we were getting a new tower downtown near or next to the Devon tower... True?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Devon has stated they won't be building another tower. But that doesn't mean someone else might not build a tower.
Gary T 11:10 a.m. When do you think we could see a bigger push for updating the archaic liquor laws, texting while driving law or banning smoking from all restaurants and bars? I think those three laws alone could help change the perception of Oklahoma in the national spotlight.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Wouldn't that involve some constructive, forward thinking actions on behalf of our state lawmakers?
Fantastic 11:10 a.m. When will the Bricktown Landing open? This railroad dispute is getting old.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Yep.
Bob 11:11 a.m. The scuttlebutt I hear from rowers is that OU likes being in the upper boathouse and having that part of the river all to themselves and is in no hurry to build down with the others.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. That's news to me.
Gary T 11:11 a.m. With Aloft now open, how long until we see a redevelopment of that little building to the south facing Walnut? Would be a great place for a donut shop near the BT police station...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. A coffee shop with donuts did once open immediately across the street from the Bricktown substation and did not last long. So I wouldn't assume that would work elsewhere. But yeah, that little building should be something - probably a great bar with it's overlook of Bricktown.
Fantastic 11:13 a.m. Why are all the lights off around the Land Run Sculptures? And I mean, it is DARK down there. Sends a little unsafe and uninviting.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. City Hall reads these chats. Guys, what say you?
Andrew 11:13 a.m. Is there anything in the works for a new grocery store around Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. I believe Midtown will eventually get a grocery worthy of what's going on in that neighborhood.
Gary T 11:14 a.m. Looks like some walls are going up on the new Salvation Army headquarters at 10th and Penn. When do you think we will see it completed and the old headquarters torn down to make way for the Core to Shore park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. Not until later this year or early next year.
Vowl 11:14 a.m. My friend told me that at 23d and Broadway between the fire station and the bakery there was a a restaurant in that strange place of ground.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. El Charito was in one of those buildings for a long time. It was the predecessor to El Chico's.
Jake 11:15 a.m. Steve, Have you heard of any new skyscrapers in Tulsa?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. Nope.
Bill 11:15 a.m. When will the "renovations" to the Sante Fe parking garage be completed. This has taken longer than building the Devon Tower. The exterior changes (reflective panels) are ugly. Would have rather seen them replace the shoddy elevators.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. It has not taken longer than Devon Energy Center. I think we should withhold judgment of the facade until it's done.
Eddie 11:16 a.m. What do you hear about the future of the properties immediately south of Stage Center? Where the Arts Festival and La Luna are currently located?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. For now, those properties are safe. But I suspect they'll be redeveloped long term.
Terry 11:16 a.m. Are there any plans to infill in the gaps directly along the Lower Bricktown canal? It's kinda sad looking with the sea of parking down there.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. I agree. I doubt such parking would be allowed by current city leadership. I don't see it changing.
Connor 11:17 a.m. What do you think about the growth happening along the Memorial/Kilpatrick corridor?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. It's a lot of big box retail. But the development at Western and Memorial has potential to be something special. I think the community has been given premature and unverified information as to what is definitely going to take place and what is being attempted or is simply hoped for by the developer, which can lead to inflated expectations and disappointment later on. Top Golf, Main Event Entertainment and the St. Anthony Healthplex are done deals. I think there is a chance we may see a Cabella's. Costco is on the developer's wish-list but certainly was not a done deal or even a potential deal as was suggested by others when this development began to pop up.
Guest 11:24 a.m. The DFW metroplex has had some major relocations and office expansion lately with State Farm Insurance building their huge complex there, Toyota relocating, Charles Schwab looking at moving to DFW, Comerica Bank, lots of huge corporate relocations. Why can't OKC land any of these relocations of major companies that aren't energy related?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. It's a tough business recruiting such companies, far more difficult than many realize.
Kelly 11:25 a.m. Steve, I know the river is becoming an entertainment destination but do you think it could ever become a walkable neighborhood with apartments and sidewalk cafés looking over water/downtown? I understand this idea is at the least decades away, but still do you have a similar vision for the long term development of the area? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. Yes. And I believe it will happen sooner than you think.
Mark 11:26 a.m. How is anyone going to solve the problem of the bathrooms being between the floors at first national? Also do you think Shadid would try and derail another Skirvin-like deal for first national?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. I can't speak for Ed Shadid, but from what I know about Ed, I think he has a proper appreciation for this building and its challenges. The Colcord had bathrooms between floors too. It's fixable.
Mark 11:27 a.m. Will you be attending and participating in the public blvd discussion Wednesday? I understand that's probably Crum's turf to write about but you should go as a concerned and well informed citizen!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. I'll be there either way. Bill and I often work together.
Terry 11:27 a.m. In regards to Guest's request to have a Farmer's Market in Paseo, I wrote my idea last week about building an actual Marketplace building, but in Bricktown. It could provide fresh and prepared foods for the growing number of residents and visitors while filling the current gap in grocery stores in the area along with the opportunity for entertainers to perform in a smaller venue.
Jake 11:28 a.m. Would you rather see an modern looking streetcar like in the current renderings or a streetcar like New Orleans?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. Modern and new.
MidTown Mac 11:28 a.m. I think the Broadway re-striping was win for automobile driving customers and employees (more parking), but a neutral for pedestrians and a downside for cyclists. Anyone trying to walk across Broadway between 6th and 10th is still taking their life in their hands despite the somewhat slower traffic flow. For cyclists angled parking is more dangerous (cars can't see well backing out), and one less lane makes the street more crowded. I still support the re-striping as a nice experiment. What have you heard from others on this?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Everyone I've heard from likes the redesign. I've found the street easier to cross as a pedestrian. Traffic is finally slowing down.
Mark 11:29 a.m. Seriously Steve, I understand that Tulsa gets the more higher end stores first due to their more concentrated high income neighborhoods but costco? How? Why? I heard a rumor that tulsa business groups openly talk trash on Okc to potential stores to land them first, is this true?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Tulsa isn't shy about competing with Oklahoma City by talking it down to outside prospects. I can even remember a time Oklahoma City civic leaders had to fight off an attempt by Tulsa to split the Dell center so half of the operation would go to Tulsa instead of it all being developed and built at SE 15 and the Oklahoma River. As for the retailers, the answer is simple: Tulsa's wealthy community is far more concentrated in one area, while Oklahoma City's community is far more diverse and spread out.
Tom Smith 11:32 a.m. Any update on Crossroads Mall? Wasn't it supposed to be converted into a hispanic themed mall? Thanks.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. That conversion has been well underway this past year.
Mark 11:32 a.m. Steve, what do you think are the best options for slowing down and making 23rx more pedestrian friendly? This is not going to be an easy project
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. I'm not that smart.
RowerBrandon 11:32 a.m. Any update on OKSEA?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. Plans are being wrapped up, it won't be much longer...
Mark 11:33 a.m. Why not run for your house district seat and work for the Oklahoman? Steve 2014!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. I'd be a total failure as a politician. And I'd be forced to run against a childhood friend, Kevin Calvey. And I've never killed an alligator. And apparently that's really important to my neighbors when it comes to choosing their representative at the state capitol.
Terry 11:34 a.m. I'm trying to think what major retail corridors are near downtown. All the major retail is either in far NW OKC, Edmond or the Outlet Mall west on I-40. Downtown seems ripe to become the major retail location it once was back before Urban Renewal destroyed it. Are you seeing more interest in retailers moving back into downtown or nearby? By the way GO THUNDER!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Yes.
OK Joe 11:34 a.m. What is the status of Councilman Shadid's convention center recall petition? Has this delayed or complicated the project at all for those trying to manage it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. The petition died when nothing was submitted on the April 15th deadline. The signature threshold is much higher for a new petition because the numbers now would be based on the mayoral election turnout, which was very high. The petition did not create any delays.
Mark 11:36 a.m. True or false: Crowe and Dunlevy are moving into the Branitff building
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Neither. Lease negotiations are taking place. I will note that Tom Ward's Tapstone engaged in such conversations with two other properties in Bricktown before finalizing a deal with the owners of the Mideke Building, and even that deal was questionable for a while. It's pretty likely Crowe & Dunlevy will be moving out of 20 N Broadway at the upcoming end of its lease as the building's owner, Continental Resources, continues to expand. I won't be surprised if the law firm ends up in the Braniff Building, but I won't be surprised if the firm ends up elsewhere either.
Jake 11:39 a.m. Steve, Any news if Aubrey will build a new headquarters for American Energy Partners?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Don't be surprised if they build a headquarters near the current home of OPUBCO and the future home of Kimray.
Mark 11:39 a.m. Steve any update on potential co-tenants with opubco in century center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Soon, very soon.
MidTown Mac 11:39 a.m. People presently are constantly trickling through Bricktown Landing on bike or foot. Are they breaking the law? What jurisdiction with arrest and fine powers would care about that?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. The railroad doesn't have a police force and the city sees this whole ordeal as being pretty ridiculous, so don't expect them to do anything.
Guest 11:41 a.m. after a week to look into it any thoughts on Guyutes?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. People need to talk, compromises need to be considered.
Bob 11:41 a.m. Police and donuts are old school... they do lattes and bagels these days
Downtowner 11:41 a.m. Any news on possible buyers for First National Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. People are interested. But the asking price is pretty high.
RowerBrandon 11:41 a.m. Bob is correct. Currently, with High Performance, OCU, and all the programs that come out of Chesapeake and the Kayaking groups, the Oklahoma River is almost at capacity. With the addition of UCO it will be very crowded and tight scheduling for teams to practice. OU is a MASSIVE team, probably as big as UCO and OCU combined. With how crowded it is on the eastern side of the river where the boathouse district is, OU is perfectly content saying up at Exchange and having that entire area to themselves and their schedule.
Ronaldo Rivera 11:42 a.m. Have you heard what will be in the retail locations at the Edge?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Not yet.
Chris 11:42 a.m. I know this is out of your area but do you know what is going on at the Dayton tire plant on Council with all of the military looking equipment and boxes being stored there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Nope.
Ronaldo Rivera 11:42 a.m. With the angled parking now on Auto Alley, do you see more development in the works east of Broadway besides the Metropolitan?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Absolutely yes.
RowerBrandon 11:42 a.m. What do you anticipate to come out of the OKCFest concerts this summer?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. I'm not sure.
BethanySooner 11:42 a.m. Steve, have you heard about a start date for the proposed 1201 Francis apartments?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. I don't sense it as imminent as people might hope.
BethanySooner 11:43 a.m. Is anything about to be announced concerning the Physicians Bldg parking lot development?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Nope. I don't think so.
Ryan Bent 11:43 a.m. steve, I like Oklahoma City but there is no extended stay hotels that suit my family and my question is why developers don't invest more into extended stay in OKC with oil being there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Oklahoma City has a lot of extended stay hotels both downtown and in suburban areas. What are you wanting?
Mark 11:43 a.m. If could grant 3 plausible wishes for Okc this summer what would they be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. Local developers with experience, respect and money buy First National Center, a fair, open and honest discussion takes place on the boulevard design and the community embraces creation of a regional transit authority.
Mark 11:45 a.m. Steve in your 24 years at the Oklahoman has anything pissed off as many people as the headline yesterday?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. Yep. Plenty.
Does anyone remember of the photo of cute puppies at the OKC animal shelter with the headline "These puppies will be dead by the time you read this"? The story was about efforts to make OKC a no-kill animal shelter city. It was great writing and reporting by John Sutter, who started out as an intern I mentored and is now doing incredible work with CNN.
I don't believe a good newspaper should simply be a cheerleader attempting to make everyone happy. We should call things are they are, ask unpopular questions, challenge people's thinking and provoke good discussions.
If we're only here to be cheerleaders and make people happy, we become irrelevant.
Connor 11:48 a.m. Do you know anything about the land deals and dirt moving around Memorial and Rockwell? Seems like this might be the next area for growth.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. That area will grow and sprawl for years...
Guest 11:49 a.m. If you were buying a home today, which neighborhood would you choose,Crown Heights or Mesta Park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. Tough choice.... both great neighborhoods.
Mark 11:49 a.m. Drove through Capitol Hill last week and wow that area has some serious potential. Steve what is it going to take for the ball to really get going in that part of town?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. Extend the streetcar line to Commerce Street and mark my words, that area will go nuts with development.
JS 11:50 a.m. Steve, I just recently moved back to OKC and haven't fully grasped the core to shore and other downtown developments yet (i'm learning!)However, I was curious about the construction going on just south of the Basspro lot. It looks like an overpass is being built. What is this, and what is this connecting to and from?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. That's the eastern connection of the new boulevard being built.
Bill 11:51 a.m. In a year and a half, the Devon Tower had reached the 46th floor. They have been at the parking garage for at least a year. Close enough. I was not talking about the facade. It is the panels they added to the side that are useless and ugly. Anyway, all I wanted to know is if you know when they will be done.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. I'll ask.
RowerBrandon 11:51 a.m. Steve I just wanted to say thank you for staying as neutral as you can on many issues and debates that are presented to you. Also, thank you for being very intelligent in the news and developments that you relay to your readers. I know it can be hard at times not to bust out a story at the first word of something cool happening.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. Thanks!
Guest 11:51 a.m. Steve, do you think the Goolsby law office will set a bad precedent Core to Shore development? This was supposed to be an urban neighborhood.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. I'm not sure I understand why it would have been better to have a parking lot facing the river.
Guest 11:52 a.m. Yes, please run for something Steve. You'd be good a representative and already have lots of support. From us, your readers.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. I'm a journalist, not a politician.
bill 11:52 a.m. Steve, why does the streetcar route only go in one direction? Is this normal or just stage one of a bigger plan?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:53 a.m. No, that's the design. It's all about whether it's best and more effective to have duel tracks on the same street or tracks going different directions on parallel streets. I've seen some pretty strong arguments from both sides.
Mark 11:54 a.m. Steve if someone left Okc in 1988 and lived under a rock until today, what would they be most surprised about on their first visit home?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. I've actually taken some rides with folks under such circumstances. There's no one thing that stuns them. It's everything. They don't even recognize the city.
Mark 11:55 a.m. Who did you vote for in the mayoral election?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. Not Nelson or Hughes. I appreciated that Mick Cornett and Ed Shadid presented two very compelling and very different visions for the city and gave voters a real choice.
RowerBrandon 11:56 a.m. A lot of people talk about how it would be awesome to draw in Omni to build a hotel along with the MAPS convention center. Do you see this as a possibility?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Yes.
Mark 11:56 a.m. Who owns that giant surface lot across the street from red prime? That needs to go
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. SandRidge.
Mark 11:56 a.m. What's next for Steve mason? Any clues?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Likely 8th Street.
Mark 11:56 a.m. Steve if you had absolute control over bricktown development for 5 years what would you do?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. Develop the upper floors of the Spaghetti Warehouse into housing, and develop the surface lots in front of Chelino's, next to Zio's, and east of the Ballpark. I'd tear down several of the smaller buildings in Lower Bricktown and start from scratch.
Dan 11:58 a.m. Any idea when work on the Main Street Arcade will start? Any tenants lined up?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. It's coming soon.
Mark 11:58 a.m. You need to shoot an email to Aubrey and convince him that downtown is where AEP needs to be headquartered, specifically next door to stage center tower to get the whole core to shore deal rolling
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. Aubrey McClendon is a pretty independent minded guy. I doubt he cares what I think.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. OK Folks, I've got to get going. Have a great weekend!

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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