The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in Friday's OKC Central Live Chat on NewsOK.com. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
Q: Are there any updates with the Boulevard?
Lackmeyer: Behind the scenes there are discussions under way to make Route A more pedestrian friendly. Friends for a Better Boulevard, meanwhile, is gearing up for a fight, noting the consultant, Stantech, was not given the free hand to look at all options as was promised (engineers instructed that any scenario has to keep Reno open and result in construction of a full boulevard).
Q: With the recent influx of large amounts of housing in Deep Deuce, how long until we see a grocery store larger than Native Roots?
Lackmeyer: Hopefully a long time. Let Native Roots get rooted in, attached to the neighborhood, and fixed up on providing what's best for the neighborhood. Why bring in a larger grocery store to kill the investment this family has made downtown that was not being made by the large chains?
Q: Walker Avenue between 10th and 13th is exploding with the Edge Apartments, 1212, Osler conversion, and now the St. Anthony's Hospital expansion. Are you aware of any additional developments around 10th street on some of those vacant lots?
Lackmeyer: There will be more housing built in MidTown. Expect hundreds more apartments, some for-sale housing. And yeah, it's all in the planning stages.
Q: (From “Santa Claus”) Steve, if you could have anything built downtown for Christmas, what would it be, and why?
Lackmeyer: Oh wow, Santa. Can you give $200 million to buy First National Center? Of course, I'd only need about $20 million of that to actually buy the buildings. The remainder of the money would go toward renovating the east tower facade so it can be a good Class B office building, while I'd convert the upper floors of the middle building into parking. The east tower is the Christmas star on this gift: I'd convert part of the tower into housing, part of it into a hotel. The Great Banking Hall would serve as a lobby for the hotel, with some of the space being converted into a bookstore and Internet cafe. And because you're giving this to me, I'd want to give back to my city by converting the old Beacon Club up top into the state's greatest community space for nonprofits, civic clubs and average folks to enjoy for gatherings, meetings and banquets.
Q: Any talks of when and where the first restaurant on the Oklahoma River will pop up? Are there any spaces you can think of that you would like to see a restaurant on the river?
Lackmeyer: Don't be surprised if one pops up with the White Water Rapids, which I think would be a great location.
Q: Steve, you said earlier that the skyline will grow. By how many buildings, if you had to guess?
Lackmeyer: Consider this: we already know there will be a 13-story Main Street garage with housing going up this next year, along with the new elementary (school). Of course, you all want to know about the towers. I see two towers going up ... I previously reported one is expected to hit 40 stories.