Almost 20 years have passed since voters narrowly approved the MAPS penny sales tax — a game changer for Oklahoma City that still is paying once inconceivable dividends.
Without MAPS, Oklahoma City doesn't have a Bricktown Canal, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, a thriving Civic Center Music Hall, a modern downtown library, or a river that is now home to regattas that draw thousands of people from across the country.
Nor would Oklahoma City be home to an NBA team or a 50-story Devon Energy Center.
The 2013 annual Outlook section asked the city's up and coming, the seasoned civic leaders and others to look ahead and predict what's next through 2033.
I've been tracking the MAPS transformation of Oklahoma City, and more specifically the downtown revival that ensued, for the past 17 years. Often I'm asked similar questions to those being posed in this latest Outlook.
The trick is to get ahead of what is already a pretty spectacular look ahead just over the next few years. In that time period alone, I expect to see Deep Deuce fully developed as a mixed-use downtown neighborhood. Bricktown's skyline will be transformed with the addition of several mid-rise hotels (most six to 12 stories high) and a series of four-story apartment buildings set to be built along E Sheridan Avenue.
Add in a new convention center, a 17- to 20-story conference hotel, a new Core to Shore park and a streetcar system. Downtown also will be home to a new police headquarters and a new city court building. That's a pretty big leap ahead — and all of that is almost a certainly within five years.
Twenty years from now, should the momentum continue, is a bit difficult to grasp. But here's my look in the crystal ball, based on conversations with developers, civic leaders and planners.
We will see more mid-rise to high-rise housing. So far, downtown Oklahoma City has pretty limited options in high-rise living — Regency Tower, the Park Harvey Building and the top few floors of CityPlace Tower.
That will change. We will see housing in the historic First National Tower. Someone will figure out how to make the property viable again. We'll likely see a hotel in the tower as well. We will likely see new mid-rise to high-rise housing around the new Core to Shore park.
Forget all that was written in the Core to Shore study overseen by Mayor Mick Cornett in 2006. The market, not out-of-state planning consultants, will dictate how the area south of the Central Business District is developed. And the market, as it speaks, is looking seriously at housing.
Regardless of what happens to SandRidge Energy, the surface parking lots the company owns along Broadway will be developed. Decades-old bank drive-thru branches owned by Bank of Oklahoma, Chase Bank and Bank of America also inevitably will be developed as well.
But let's get real — even these forecasts at best go out about a decade. So let's get really daring and look ahead to 2033.
Don't get mad when I say this — but the Chesapeake Energy Arena will hit its 20th anniversary in 2022. Expect efforts to replace the arena with a new one by 2033. The 2020s also likely will see the end of the old Myriad Convention Center and redevelopment of that site into a mix of housing, offices, hotels and retail.
The one-story, synthetic stucco covered retail buildings developed by Randy Hogan in Lower Bricktown — never considered an architectural or planning triumph, will hit the end of the life span in the 2020s as well. At this point, Bricktown will be thriving, while Lower Bricktown will be struggling with large vacancies and a loss of attractions.
Theaters still exist — but they will have eliminated their traditional screens to make way for holographic movies. Such a venue is seen as key to redeveloping Lower Bricktown. At that time, new developers come in, level the area (with the exception of the Centennial condominiums and a new large hotel on what is now the Compress parking lot), and build a much denser mix of housing, retail and entertainment.
Downtown of 2033 is the realization of dreams considered utter fantasy in 1993 — and the foundation for a 21st century city that is the envy of other urban planners throughout the country.