The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers Friday in his weekly online chat. You can join Steve at 10 a.m. on Fridays and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown. To see the complete chat, go to NewsOK.com
What new and exciting retail development does the city have to look forward to?
We're continuing to see a lot of smaller clothing and gift shops opening up along Automobile Alley. This is actually very healthy and far more exciting than say a Nordstrum's opening up in Core to Shore (sorry folks, it's not going to happen). Retail by its very nature is changing. The kind of retail that is opening up along Broadway is, according to those I speak to, the future for downtown shopping.
What, if anything, do you see happening with the lots north and northeast of the Calvary Baptist Church in Deep Deuce?
We will almost certainly see more housing built to the north and east of the former Calvary church. Much of the property was recently bought by Level developer Richard McKown, with the remainder of the block being owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. As an aside, the renovation of the old church into the Dan Davis Law Firm is nearing completion and the project is pretty impressive.
Any idea when we will see dirt start moving for the Central Park?
The Core to Shore park project is almost certainly not going to follow the timeline of opening in 2014 as pushed by Mayor Mick Cornett. The Salvation Army has yet to start construction of their new campus at NW 10 and Pennsylvania Avenue, and that move has to take place for the organization to move from its current location in the heart of what will be the park. To top it off, the construction of the adjoining boulevard is delayed at least a year as well. Will we even see construction of the park begin in 2014? Maybe?
Is anyone trying to fill Classen Curve and Nichols Hills Plaza?
I've been told by several sources that Nichols Hills Plaza is in play — that if Chesapeake isn't actively selling it, there are developers actively trying to buy it. Not hearing the same buzz about Classen Curve, but that's not to say it won't be sold. All of this adds to the uncertainty, but could signal opportunity in the future.
What kind of probability that we'll see a high rise residential project within the next 3 years?
Make it five years and I'll say the odds are very good.
Will a shortened Thunder season have a negative effect on the development of downtown/Bricktown?
So have we all assumed that the Thunder are losing the next two games? Folks, downtown development is far more sophisticated than the team's win-loss record. Downtown was booming when the Thunder won only 23 games. Downtown will be just fine regardless of whether the Thunder get into the finals. Enjoy having a great team, and don't get too spoiled.
Do you know if the downtown transit center on NW 5 will move/integrate with the Santa Fe mass transit depot?
I'm told it won't easily fit in with the Santa Fe depot, though I wouldn't be surprised if there's an effort to move the transit center because its current location is far more valuable as a potential development site.
Any news on new high-end hotels, i.e. four diamond and up?
The only new high-end hotel I see being developed downtown is a conference hotel to be built with the new convention center — and that won't be cheap for the city, which will be asked to participate in its financing.
What are the chances the area above the Velvet Monkey in the Plaza District becomes a viable outdoor gathering space like the one above Rawhide on Automobile Alley?
In the Plaza District, anything is possible. That would be a fun rooftop, wouldn't it?