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Busy year awaits for downtown Oklahoma City

Oklahoman business writer Steve Lackmeyer looks at growth ahead for downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: January 1, 2013

A growing residential population is demanding more emphasis on pedestrian-friendly streets — a conversation that is making city engineers increasingly uncomfortable as they attempt to shift their own focus from simply accommodating fast, easy vehicular access in and out of downtown.

This year also likely will be when the effort to redevelop the blighted Core to Shore area south of the Central Business District gets real.

City engineers are moving forward with plans to build a new convention center and park in the area. But debate has yet to subside over how and when the park should be developed, and contention continues over the convention center site south of the Myriad Gardens.

Interest is picking up among developers looking at the area for more housing. But don't be surprised if plans that emerged from the Core to Shore task force seven years ago quickly prove to be outdated and irrelevant to what's taking place in 2013.

Plans for a grand boulevard set to travel through Core to Shore also remain a point of contention, though advocates for an at-grade road won a victory when state highway engineers agreed to consider new designs that do away with a massive elevated street they hoped to build between Western and Walker Avenues.

Public investment also will alter and change growth patterns along the southwestern fringe of downtown with construction set to begin this year on a new police headquarters, courthouse, elementary school and parking garage.

From the flawed implementation of Urban Renewal in the 1970s through this past decade, downtown suffered the blight of numerous empty lots and reminders of failed dreams from that previous era. Those scars finally are closing, the empty lots are filling up, and downtown's geographic boundaries are set to expand.

What a wonderful way to mark the 20th anniversary of MAPS — a dream a city collectively dared to make a reality.

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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