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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

One year ago I pondered the question: “Is this the new boom, or just the new normal?”

Define normal. Is “normal” a pattern of growth that stretches out over a few years? Does it have to go on for a decade?

What we now know is that the economic good times for Oklahoma City, briefly interrupted with the national economic recession, have pretty much clipped along for Oklahoma City for the past decade.

Sales tax coffers at City Hall are abundant. As reported by The Oklahoman's retail reporter Jennifer Palmer on Sunday, stores once deemed out of Oklahoma City's league are taking notice and looking for expansion opportunities. Just about every economic, jobs, quality of life, entrepreneurial, creative class and retirement listing gives the city high marks for the transformation begun with the passage of the original Metropolitan Area Projects in 1993.

With the year being the 20th anniversary of the MAPS initiative, it's important to note that the total spinoff investment predicted way back when was $140 million. Oklahoma City surpassed that figure long ago, and the investment that can still be credited to MAPS is now racing toward $3 billion. Yes, that's no typo — billion with a “b.”

With construction set for a $53 million expansion of St. Anthony Hospital, construction under way on the $36 million Edge apartments in MidTown and the $24 million 4th Street Apartments in Deep Deuce, it's quite easy to predict the MAPS spinoff for 2013 alone will exceed $140 million.

What's yet to be announced will likely dwarf that figure. An anticipated announcement on a new office tower did not take place in 2012, but multiple sources have indicated that information about the mystery project should become public this year. Don't be surprised if plans for two separate tower projects are announced.

More housing yet to be announced also is on the drawing boards, with at least two new developments planned in Deep Deuce and a significant project being looked at in MidTown. The hotel market likely will see hundreds of rooms added in and around Bricktown.

Challenges lie ahead as well. Much of Project 180 is complete, and a new two-way street grid is beginning to emerge that will require re-education for downtown's workforce and visitors.

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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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