Fifteen years have gone by since developer Randy Hogan first won a hotly contested competition for city-owned land that is now known as “Lower Bricktown.” Wednesday, Hogan will seek approval by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority on his plan for what is essentially the last big undeveloped spot.
His pitch? A one-story building nestled between Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill and Earl's Rib Palace that will be home to yet another restaurant to be operated by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group and associated with Thunder star Kevin Durant.
So, how does Lower Bricktown compare with the “Bricktown Entertainment Center” that was first pitched by Hogan in July 1997?
Let's start with some history. Hogan faced fierce competition from Moshe Tal, an aspiring developer who pitched his own vision of a shopping mall and parking garage that Tal pledged would be associated with David Cordish, the Baltimore developer who later did the Power and Light District in Kansas City.
When Tal was rejected, he followed with a string of unsuccessful lawsuits against the city that dragged out more than a decade.
Hogan paid $3 million for the land, which the city invested back into building bridges and other amenities along the Bricktown Canal as it flowed through Lower Bricktown.
“You could say they got free land,” quipped then Planning Director Garner Stoll.
Despite rejection of another competitor, Sooner Investment, over its plans to do a phased pad site development, Hogan's own project has been just that — with the Kevin Durant restaurant proposal being one of the last “pads” waiting to be built.
The Kevin Durant restaurant “pad” is one of two left waiting to be developed, with the other site south of the future downtown boulevard by the Land Run Monument.
A look at the early renderings and site plans shows several changes, ranging from the addition of the Bass Pro Shops, for which the city was required to build a $21 million home; a larger-than-expected hotel in the form of the Residence Inn; the Sonic corporate headquarters building — where shops and restaurants were to be built; a smaller-than-suggested theater (16 screens instead of 20 with an IMAX cinema); and the Centennial, a larger-than-suggested building, that included 30 condominiums atop a mix of entertainment and eateries.
Renderings submitted by Hogan in 1997 also showed buildings facing Reno Avenue by the entrance fountain all being two stories or higher and connected with two-level sidewalks similar to the design found north of Reno Avenue. What was developed in those spots, however, are a series of one-story buildings with a mix of synthetic stucco and brick in their facades.