The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&As on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Read the complete chat transcript here.
What are some short term things that have you excited that you can actually share with us?
The skyline in Bricktown is about to change far more dramatically than people may realize. Picture it with three to four new six- to ten-story hotels built up along the east end around the Hampton Inn. Picture the proposed Holiday Inn Express on Main Street. Picture the Stewart Metal Fabricators site built up as mixed-use housing and retail. This sort of development should secure Bricktown's long-term future and spare it the fate that befell the West End in Dallas. Deep Deuce and MidTown, meanwhile, are in a race to become truly wonderful mixed-use urban neighborhoods.
Any new grocery stores in the future?
We know that Trader Joe's is looking at expanding into Oklahoma City. It's not impossible for them to consider a location in the urban core, though I'd be surprised if they came into the heart of downtown.
What are the chances of seeing IKEA in OKC?
The last report I heard was the odds are pretty low.
Will the rise of violent crime in the city make a big impact on businesses looking to make their move to OKC? Do you know what steps are being taken to mitigate this?
It could. Historically, City Hall has faced the challenge of trying to somehow treat fire and police equally (at least what I saw). So if you were looking at adding 100 police, you also had to add 100 firefighters. So it's doubly expensive. But most folks I talk to say that the need for more police far outweighs the need for more firefighters and every bit of focus should be on beefing up our police force. Politics are changing. Let's see what happens.
What's your opinion on the proposed street car route?
I've seen a lot of debate and consideration go into the proposed route, it seems to serve quite a bit of the high density sections of downtown, but also passes along some great undeveloped sites as well. I question whether Oklahoma City full appreciates how much operation and maintenance will cost, and I wonder if residents understand the MAPS 3 campaign and ballot made no such provisions for operation and maintenance of the streetcar system, the new park, the new convention center or the wellness centers. Far less consideration went into such matters than was evidenced in the original MAPS initiative.
Besides the restaurants that have opened recently, like Kitchen 324, can we expect any new restaurants in the downtown area in 2013?
Yep. The popular Cow-Calf Cafe in Edmond is opening up a second location in the Park Harvey Building.