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Downtown Oklahoma City abuzz with building

Developers, city officials provide an update on more than $1 billion in construction under way in downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: February 12, 2012

More than $1 billion in construction is under way downtown — at this moment. Some of the projects, most notably the 50-story Devon Energy Center, can be spotted miles away. But others are less visible, and yet more work is on the drawing boards and on the cusp of keeping the construction industry gainfully employed for years to come.

I recently visited with key decision makers and assembled a score card of what can be expected over the next year, as well as an update on previously announced downtown projects.

Private development:

• The Level Urban Apartments, 228 units, at NE 2 and Walnut — Developer Richard McKown confirms construction is on schedule for an opening of the $24 million complex this spring. Build-out of the Native Roots Market grocery is about to begin within the next few weeks, and McKown reports negotiations are under way with “a very exciting operator” for restaurant space next to the grocery on the complex's first floor along NE 2. McKown reports he has a waiting list of 150 people and he expects his development efforts in the area will continue after Level is completed.

• Maywood Apartments, 139 units at NE 4 and Oklahoma Avenue — Developers Ron Bradshaw and Jason Bradshaw are awaiting final approval of plans and financing with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They hope to start construction on the $18 million project later this year.

• The Edge, 252 units, at NW 13 and Walker — Developer Gary Brooks is targeting a summer start for construction on the $34 million complex. He reports efforts are ongoing to address concerns voiced by nearby Heritage Hills residents.

• Aloft Hotel, NE 2 and Walnut — Construction is well under way on the $18 million, seven-story Aloft hotel being developed by hotelier Jim Thompson. He reports the hotel should be open by mid-2013 and that ground floor retail will include a restaurant, an XYZ Bar, a coffee shop and a small market.

• House of Bedlam, Reno Avenue and Mickey Mantle Drive — Chris Johnson, owner of USA Screen Printing, is expecting to begin construction this spring on parking and two buildings on two undeveloped plots of land along the Bricktown Canal. The project, which include a “House of Bedlam” gift shop and restaurant, is scheduled to open next winter.

• SandRidge Commons, Robert S. Kerr Avenue and Broadway — Demolition is under way on the old Petroleum Club garage at 120 Robert S. Kerr, and construction is set to begin later this year on a four-story amenities building that will house a fitness center, day care center, restaurant and rooftop basketball court for SandRidge employees.

Renovation of the Braniff Building on the west edge of the campus along Robinson Avenue is also under way, with the ground floor set for opening later this year.

Plaza work and other renovations to the main 29-story SandRidge tower also are ongoing.

• Devon Energy Center, Sheridan Avenue and Hudson Avenue — The largest development in downtown history is set for completion this summer with the first round of employees expected to move in next month. The $750 million development includes a 50-story tower, a “Garden Wing,” public Rotunda and an auditorium.

• Greater Oklahoma City Chamber headquarters, Broadway and NW 4 — This project remains on hold. Spokeswoman Cynthia Reid confirms a new headquarters still is needed, but the original plans, including the site itself, likely will be re-evaluated when the project is relaunched.

• Dowell Center, Robert S. Kerr Avenue and Robinson Avenue — Developer Rick Dowell is adding 52 windows and new brick cladding to the 20-story building's 12 through 18th floors of the east wall as it is exposed by the demolition of the adjoining Petroleum Club garage.

The building has been largely vacant for the past 20 years as Dowell has slowly cleaned up the property's split titles and removed asbestos.

• Hilton Garden Inn/Homeward Suites hotel, Sheridan Avenue in Bricktown — Developers say financing, final designs are wrapping up for the 11-story combined hotel tower and construction is set to begin later this year.

• New restaurants — Cafe 7 is expected to open later this year in the ground floor of First National Tower at Park Avenue and Robinson Avenue. Fuzzy's Tacos will open in the space formerly occupied by Falcone's Pizzeria in Lower Bricktown this spring.

With the ongoing implementation of MAPS for Kids, the upgrade of the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Project 180, and upcoming construction related to MAPS 3 and new police and city court complex, public investment downtown will be ongoing for the next several years.

The following updates were compiled from Mayor Mick Cornett, Public Works Director Eric Wenger and City Hall Special Projects Manager Tom Anderson:

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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