Business Writer Steve Lackmeyer fielded a variety of questions about downtown developments during his regular Friday morning chat on NewsOK.com. This is an edited version of that conversation.
Q: What are the three biggest surprises you predict for Oklahoma City development in 2013?
Steve Lackmeyer: You guys are getting more and more clever. So how do I answer this without giving away the surprises that are not yet quite ready for prime time? OK, here goes.
There will likely be a downtown announcement that for me, personally, will be very profound, a very joyful moment. Cool businesses are coming downtown ... and development interest is far more heated than people realize.
Q: When will we know something about new towers downtown?
Lackmeyer: I know it seems as if the wait is going forever, but I've heard nothing to change what I've said in the past ... deals are in motion.
Q: In regards to the convention center, why was the Cox Business Center not renovated to near the degree that they are saying they need now. Was that just a band aid? Anything they are saying they need for the future will probably turn out just like what we have now. Especially for a dying industry. Any thoughts?
LACKMEYER: Structurally, the Cox Center was, and is still, a mess. You are correct — the original MAPS project envisioned a lot more of a renovation and expansion.
But the price of that plan skyrocketed due to the complexities posed by the underground parking, structural loading, etc. Quite frankly, the site doesn't work. As for the convention business being a dying industry, I don't think even its harshest critics allege that's the case.
Q: Are you excited about Midtown Renaissance Group's purchase of the property in MidTown you wrote about? Do you think we see something mixed use on this site, or an entire block development similar to the Edge?
LACKMEYER: Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg and Chris Fleming have had great success with MidTown housing to date. It's not unthinkable that they might endeavor a bigger housing development on NW 10 and Hudson.
Q: Native Roots is currently the only grocer in the downtown area. Are any other grocers planning on opening in that area? Possibly a Trader Joe's? I had seen in the paper last week that there might be interest from them in an Oklahoma City location.
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