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Exhibit halls under Hudson Avenue seen as possible answer to Oklahoma City convention center design concerns

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: April 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm •  Published: April 25, 2013

The scheme also allows the convention center to drop back down to two stories and potentially lowers the height of the hotel from 20 to 17 stories, creating less of a barrier.

“By putting a hotel on Robinson, it provides a 24-hour-a-day activity zone along Robinson,” Lockwood said.

Todd Voth, senior principal with Populous, said the plan comes with just one disadvantage — the requirement that a hotel deal be secured in a timely manner so that the convention center isn't surrounded for long by dead space.

Cathy O'Connor, director of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, said a consultant should be hired soon to evaluate the market for a large conference hotel and assist in proposing possible financing. O'Connor also said she expect a purchase offer to be made to property's owners — Bob Howard and Fred Hall — within the next 60 days.

Voth said he's confident an extension under Hudson Avenue is viable and won't be subject to risks of flooding and sound vibrations. He said his firm designed a convention center in Phoenix with a similar design.

“I'd be a little less confident if we hadn't done it, but we've done it and it works very well,” Voth said. “This gives us the best of both worlds.”

Committee members Roy Williams, Larry Nichols, Michael Carrier, and John D. Williams all gave the plan high marks for addressing most if not all of their prior concerns.

“I like how it creates three walkways connecting the Myriad Gardens with the new park,” said Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy. “With the other options, we were looking at this block being more of a barrier.”

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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