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Downtown Oklahoma City, 2033

Steve Lackmeyer looks two decades ahead in the development of Oklahoma City's downtown.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 28, 2013
/articleid/3804060/1/pictures/2037765">Photo - A view of the skyline from the SkyDance bridge in downtown Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
A view of the skyline from the SkyDance bridge in downtown Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

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.

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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