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Inattention to details seen in minor glitches in OKC

With more than $1 billion being invested in downtown Oklahoma City, oversights and mistakes can result in unintended consequences.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: November 30, 2010 at 9:05 am •  Published: November 30, 2010

With construction set to begin next year on an Aloft hotel, an apartment complex and a mix of restaurants and retail — all along NE 2 — it stands to reason that the link between the Deep Deuce neighborhood and the central business district soon will become a prime pedestrian corridor.

And with that in mind, one has to wonder why a brand-new sidewalk features a large fenced-in utility grate that forces people to walk along the curb.

Just a couple blocks away, one of the most visible intersections downtown is home to new pieces of public art. Broadway and Park Avenue is home to the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, host to thousands of visitors every year.

Those visitors can now enjoy a view of sculptures of an American Indian (“The Guardian”) and a cowboy on a horse — with the Indian and cowboy's backs turned toward each other.

After almost two decades of remarkable transformation of downtown, the newest wave is going at an even faster clip with city leaders committed to finishing the Project 180 makeover of streets, sidewalks and public spaces within the next two years.

Add to Project 180 the construction of Devon tower, MAPS 3 and Core to Shore, and the current transformation tops $1 billion. With so much being done, are the sculptures and the NE 2 sidewalk a cautionary tale of what can happen if the finer details are overlooked?

The folks at City Hall have had a proud track record of working with developers, business and property owners in remaking downtown into what it is today.

But mistakes happen. Decisions are made that are later regretted. When the city launched the streetscape of Walker Avenue between Robert S. Kerr and NW 6, I asked why they weren't going to convert the street to two-way traffic. The folks at Public Works and Planning insisted it could only function as a one-way street.

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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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