In a perfect world, when the Carnegie Apartments open next May, crews will be finishing reconstruction of Dean A. McGee Avenue as it passes the front door of the former downtown library.
Judy Hatfield, who has spent years on the redevelopment, is counting on this scenario as Rudy Construction is set to start tearing up the street on Oct. 24.
But over the past three years, the Project 180 reconstruction of downtown streets has been plagued with delays that have sometimes stretched over several months, leading to the closure of restaurants and traffic headaches for pedestrians and drivers.
Hatfield swears she's not worried.
“They did Robinson on the west side of the building, and I went and looked and checked regularly to see what they were doing,” Hatfield said of the prior work. “On this upcoming work, I've already met a couple of times with the engineer, Jonathan Heusel with Tetratech, and that didn't happen before.”
Hatfield also is scheduled to meet with Rudy Construction representatives next week as part of a pre-construction meeting — another change in how Project 180 is implemented.
Add in a schedule of incentives and disincentives tied to finishing the project on time, another change, and Hatfield feels certain the street won't be a mud pit when the 19-unit apartment complex opens at 131 Dean A. McGee in April.
“It was scary when I observed the work being done (on Colcord Drive) just hours before the 75th anniversary celebration was to begin at the Civic Center,” Hatfield said. “People need to have a schedule. People need to have meetings frequently to stay on schedule. I stay organized, and I'm looking forward to Rudy Construction staying organized.”
Across the street, restaurateur Keith Paul is feeling similarly confident about the street work not causing much harm to his Kitchen No. 324. The restaurant at 324 N Robinson opened up in the renovated Braniff Building last year and has been a popular destination, especially with its weekend brunches.
Similar properties built almost a century ago have complicated Project 180 construction elsewhere downtown as crews encountered unexpected issues with basements extending under streets.
City engineers say they're certain such issues were addressed by SandRidge Energy when it renovated the building and rebuilt the sidewalk and street over the Braniff building's basement and completed Project 180 improvements adjacent to the property.
Paul also believes that the completed sidewalk, along with the city's decision not to redo the sidewalk in front of BOK Plaza to the west, will ensure pedestrians will not be blocked from accessing Kitchen No. 324.
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