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OKC Central Chat transcript, April 25, 2014

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. 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.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: April 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm •  Published: April 25, 2014

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. 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. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:18 a.m. Good morning. Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Gary T 10:04 a.m. Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you. Are you going to try to make it out to the Arts Festival over the next several days?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Yes. I am hoping to get out there late afternoon/early evening with my son. It's a beautiful day today.
Gary T 10:05 a.m. Saw your blurb on the Leo's BBQ building at 7 N Harrison sought to be torn down by Rand Elliott. Do you think it is to clear it to make way for a larger half block development? Does he also own the building between his and this one?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. I don't know because Rand Elliott has been unwilling to do interviews with me the past few months, especially when it comes to this property. We will have to wait and see.
Gary T 10:06 a.m. Looks like the new main street parking garage is getting close to being topped off. What is expected completion date on this? Any word on other parking structures being sought for downtown besides Devon east and the proposed BT garage?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. The original timeline called for a May completion, but we're likely looking at late summer. I'll have an update soon.
downtown okie 10:07 a.m. any update on ocu law school? are they going to have any housing around the building? How are other business around the are preparing for the move?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. On my last check, the OCU law school is on track to open next January. I do believe we will see quite a bit of related development, including housing and structured parking on the surface parking lots surrounding the school itself, and elsewhere nearby. The remainder of Midtown is already undergoing rapid development, and at least some of it, especially the Bleu Garten food truck plaza being built at NW 10 and Harvey, envisions some business from the law school.
Gary T 10:10 a.m. When will we have final renderings of the Classen/Western/Reno/Blvd interchange?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. I'm surprised we've not seen anything new on this topic yet - I was told earlier this year we would see some meetings announced in April. I'll check into this next week.
Gary T 10:11 a.m. What is your understanding of the issues with the angled parking on Broadway and the proposed streetcar route?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Bill Crum covered the last streetcar meeting, and I'm calling him today to get an update. It's a bit confusing to me right now.
Gary T 10:12 a.m. Glad to see the Collision center in BT finally closed down. Who owns the property north of that and do you think the two propeties will be combined for a larger development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. I believe the property you are referring to is owned by Edmond surgeon Dr. Atul Patel, who was planning to build hotels on the site. His went silent on everything after he ran into protests for his first downtown hotel project that was proposed for NE 1 and Russell Perry Ave. across from The Hill in Deep Deuce. The hotel was, as neighborhood protesters noted, very suburban in design and some would say was tone deaf in how it related to the area.
Sean W 10:15 a.m. I always drive by the old Rainbow Records at 23rd and Classen and wonder why that space is still vacant. Any idea what's up with that property?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. I believe it and the surrounding buildings are owned by a guy who is using them as storage or as a vacuum cleaner museum that has never opened to the public. The building has a problem with parking, but I don't think that alone would block it from being developed. To have a successful development, you have to have a willing owner and a willing developer.
downtown okie 10:17 a.m. with all the new jobs now downtown, I really wish someone would start a charter or private school at the villa Teresa lot. Huge amount of land.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. I'm hearing Villa Teresa School's property is set to be opened up for purchase bids this summer. I doubt it will be bought and reopened as a school, but I've also learned to never say never.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. The Villa Teresa School campus, by the way, is stunning. The buildings, especially the main building, are perhaps unlike anything else in the city. The courtyard is amazing. The view of the downtown skyline is amazing. And it has ample extra land for parking and/or more development. Villa Teresa, in my opinion, is the hottest play in Midtown at this moment.
jet 10:20 a.m. Hi Steve,I see the growth and renovation of OKC as in the early stages…we’ve got a long way to go but just think where we’ve come from in the last 15-20 years. Here’s a list of some things that standout to me: - The Boathouse District and the amenities there- When rowers and parents from out of state see the place they are amazed and it’s not finished yet. This is unique to OKC. - Making the city more pedestrian/bicycle friendly – I know we had nowhere to go than up. - Saving the Skirvin - In general, the way private development has mushroomed out from the MAPs projects. What are some of your favorites?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. I'm enjoying this morning's chat. This is a great question. I of course love the Skirvin. I'm sure that's no surprise to anyone. This city took a very neglected, endangered yet very historic building and turned it into a showcase of preservation. It is truly one of our crown jewels, and we can attribute that to then Councilwoman Willa Johnson and former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, along with a "dream team" that include city attorneys Dan Brummitt and Kenny Jordan, private attorneys Dan and Leslie Batchelor and John Michael Williams, and former Assistant City Manager Cathy O'Connor.
Other favorites - the RiverSports park area (yeah, I'm creating a name here in hopes it becomes a reality). I had an update on this park today. Downtown Oklahoma City is getting an amusement park without even realizing it. And it's no ordinary, stuck in the 20th century amusement park, but rather a very unique, 21st century recreational amusement park that is a great fit for our upcoming generations.
I love Deep Deuce. A great accident occurred when the original Triangle master plan fell apart and the land had to sold to a variety of developers including Jim Thompson (with his newly opened Aloft Hotel) and Richard McKnown (Level, Mosaic and OKSea developments). It's a much better mix with a great variety and designs and uses. That's not to criticize the work of TAP Architecture. They're of great talent and did do some of the best work (I love the Brownstones). But I think the unintended diversity is really working out very well.
I could go on and on with this answer. I love the Myriad Gardens, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Steve Mason's work at NW 9 and Broadway and of course, the ongoing transformation of Midtown by Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg, Chris Fleming, St. Anthony Hospital, Marva Ellard and Paul Coury.
Downtown is a success story that has many, many authors.
Kerry 10:30 a.m. Did the planning department or the public have any input on the configuration of how Broadway was restriped or was it all Public Works?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Oh absolutely. The job was largely prepared by the Automobile Alley Association in conjunction with planning and public works.
jet 10:31 a.m. When a person knows the inside scoop of how an entity is run it is often difficult to remain optimistic. I was thinking of the city, developers, and real-estate deals. How do you step back and not wallow in the muck and remain positive?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. I try to maintain perspective. I've been known to hit pretty hard at the city engineers, planners and transit folks. I've asked some tough questions, challenges things said and done by City Manager Jim Couch and Mayor Mick Cornett. I've asked tough questions about the Core to Shore park and the new convention center. I've hit really hard when I've seen some very questionable reasoning and actions at City Hall (does anyone remember my questioning of the delays attempted on one-way street conversions or the attempted removal of the bike lane on Walker Avenue?).
But I've known many of these people for a long time. I know them to have good intentions. But they are human. They are not perfect. And by the way, neither am I. They know I love Oklahoma City. I believe Jim Couch and Mick Cornett love Oklahoma City. And if you look at the overall picture, at City Hall there is far more good than bad taking place (not sure we can say the same at state government). As for the developers, the majority of them are trying to do projects they want to be proud of, that the city can be proud of. But they don't always know how to do that. Consider that hotelier Danny Patel's first designs for a Staybridge Suites at Lincoln and Sheridan were pretty much for a cookie cutter suburban style Staybridge. It didn't go over well. Patel thought he was locked into this design. I really believe that was the case. He was shocked when he was shown an example of a Staybridge that was far more urban and very similar to what is considered the Bricktown motif. And he excitedly and quickly changed course and went with that sort of design. Critics still don't like the footprint of the project, which is awkwardly dictated by utilities and easements on the property and is really not anything Patel can improve on from what I've seen.
On the flip side, we have an unrelated hotelier, surgeon Atul Patel who I mentioned earlier in this chat, who seemed to be oblivious to neighborhood concerns about his proposed Springhill Suites in Deep Deuce. And there are some developers who will purposely leak designs online to get people talking, let them think it's a real deal, when all they're doing is fishing for investors. So when it comes to the development community, it's a lot more murky. But there are developers who are truly trying to raise the bar - people like Richard McKown, Marva Ellard and Gary Brooks.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. By the way, I'm just now realizing the name on this never changed to Steve. Changing now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Test test
Guest 10:43 a.m. This might be out of your coverage area so to speak, but what do you make of VentureSpur splitting its OK and TX operations? It seems a little short-sighted to cut off your TX operations if the goal is to try and generate more capital outside of OK for OK companies? What are your thoughts?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. That's outside my area of expertise.
Terry 10:44 a.m. Good morning Steve, are you going downtown this week for the Arts Festival and/or the USA Canoe/ Kayaking Trials? It's going to be a busy week down there.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. I'll definitely be visiting the Arts Festival.
Guest 10:44 a.m. Which Midtown lot do you think gets developed first - 1) the lot just east of GoGo Sushi on 10th St between Hudson and Walker or 2) the lot further east that sits on the north side of 10th St between Harvey and Hudson?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. Both!
Terry 10:44 a.m. Still no one at Bicentennial Park. Should've gone to the Waffle House.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Yep. When in doubt... Waffle House, right? You guys in Jersey still with me?
Terry 10:45 a.m. What's the holdup on the OU Boathouse? I thought it was fully funded. Did some of the donors back out or something? It's been years in the planning so I'm sure Rand Elliot has finished their plans by now, unless they're asking for changes.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. I think they're still in final stages of doing required paperwork. They like to keep their attorneys busy.
Guest 10:46 a.m. Do you know the status of St. Anthony's ER expansion and when work might start on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. This is another item I need to ask about.
Terry 10:46 a.m. Any plans for an off ramp from southbound Shields to S.E. 15th Street? It would really help by adding another accessway to the Boathouse District as well as the river portion of the future Core-to-Shore Park from downtown.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. Not that I know of. But the boulevard will include some additional access.
Coy 10:46 a.m. Do you think that the opposition by some of the Heritage Hills residents will have an actual impact on whether or not a lot of the current and future developments will be allowed to proceed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. I think the folks in Heritage Hills might want to be very careful in their response to development in Uptown and Midtown. There's a fine line between protecting a historic neighborhood versus opposing development in neighboring districts simply because it represents change. I'd also caution against assuming Heritage Hills speaks with one voice. It's a great group of people living there, increasingly diverse, and they have very different ideas as to what makes for a great historic urban neighborhood. Will the residents who oppose restaurants and venues in Uptown and Midtown be successful in stopping each one? I doubt it. I suspect the more some elements try to oppose such development, the less influence and credibility they will have with each successive complaint. Midtown and Uptown are no longer stagnant, gloomy districts. They're growing and thriving. And the trick now is continue that momentum in a way in each district will be best off and in harmony with each other.
Coy 10:51 a.m. Any word yet on what is going on at Paseo Dr. and Walker Ave. across from Sauced?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Nope.
Terry 10:52 a.m. Tell me what you think of my plan to expand the Bricktown canal? I'd love to eventually see it expanded to the Myriad Gardens, but that means the Cox Center has to be demo'd first. That might not happen for years if at all. In the meantime what about creating a loop by extending the canal south from the Devon Fountain parallel to the RR viaduct, go under Reno and then turn east going between the Harkins Theater and In the Raw to reconnect with the canal. It's a short distance that would allow the water taxis continuous flow rather than being forced to reverse at the dead-end. In fact, I could see a second dog-leg extension continuing south from Reno, again parallel to the RR viaduct that would pass under the new boulevard and again turn east on the lumberyard property to connect just north of the Land Run statues. If enough of these extensions were built (including to downtown) it could provide a water grid that would allow another level of transportation by water to get around downtown and Bricktown.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I think it's possible we may see the canal extended in future years. But I doubt it will involve a segment to the Myriad Gardens or into the Central Business District.
Coy 10:52 a.m. With the microbrewery movement in full swing in places like Portland, Seattle, and many other cities around the country, do you see Oklahoma wanting to change their liquor laws any time soon to better accommodate that? We have the potential to be up and coming in that segment but the laws we have in place currently only allow microbreweries to brew no more than 3.2 by volume. This is met with much criticism by out-of-towners.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. A small group of corporate interests in the beer industry have called the shots for a long, long time in this state, with lawmakers at their beck and call. But the beer industry has been changing in recent years, and even one of the largest companies locally was sold to one of the nationals. I suspect change will come soon.
Terry 10:54 a.m. Did the City ever receive any proposals to add residential on top of the Main Street Parking Garage? If so, do you know what was proposed and by whom? Even if nobody did, the structure is still designed for an additional 3 stories, right? Eventually, someone will develop a plan and build housing up there even if it's 10-15 years down the road. That's just too great a view and opportunity to be left alone.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Nope. Three attempts were made to attract a developer, and developers kicked the tires each time but each time determined the math wouldn't work.
Terry 10:55 a.m. Do you know how big the new opening will be beneath the railroad viaduct between the Devon Fountain and the Santa Fe Station? Is there a possibility they could make it wide enough to allow for future expansion of the Bricktown canal into the downtown core? If not, I wonder if they could widen the openings beneath the RR viaduct on the north side of Reno and the south side of Sheridan to allow for western expansion of the canal into downtown and the Myriad Gardens.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. It's too early yet to really answer this question. Design work has yet to start.
Terry 10:56 a.m. I saw an idea suggesting OKC build a Marketplace similar to one in downtown Milwaukee where local businesses including local farmers, restaurants, food prep such as bakers and butchers and other vendors could fill a big downtown void. With only one small grocer in Deep Deuce: that being Native Roots, with no other grocers looking to open a store downtown, this seemed like a great idea. Not only would it serve the locals, but if placed in Bricktown it could provide some interesting shopping opportunities for tourists as well. One guy even suggested a butcher could add a bit of local flavor to the offerings with such meat as buffalo and rattlesnake. I don't know about you, but that would interest me. I've eaten both and they're both delicious. Do you think this idea has a shot in OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. With the right operator and location, absolutely.
Terry 10:57 a.m. You said Tapstone Energy would have a lot of influence once they move into the Mideke Bldg. in Bricktown. Do you think they will influence other corporations to move there as well? If so I hope it leads to more build out of vacant upper floors in the empty warehouses such as the Spaghetti Warehouse before building entirely new construction. I love what's planned for the Rock Island Plow Bldg. and could see that space as another prime corporate headquarters, with some retail at ground level of course.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Yes.
Terry 10:57 a.m. Bricktown's leadership has a history of being disjointed. Have you seen anything that leads you to believe they are doing a better job recently. I forget her name, but how's the new Bricktown coordinator doing? Has she done anything noteworthy yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Mallory O'Neill is the new Bricktown Association district manager, and yes, she seems to be doing quite well. She's far more outgoing than the last association director. But remember, O'Neill is in a different capacity, and a lot of the real heavy lifting in Bricktown is being done by the folks at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. Early on I questioned whether they could pull this off - but so far, they're doing great.
Terry 10:59 a.m. What businesses in Bricktown do the Brewers still own besides the Chevy Events Center? Are they still involved in the Santa Fe Station in any way?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. They no longer have any involvement at the train station. The Brewers own the old Haunted Warehouse building at the canal and Oklahoma Avenue, and have done a great job leasing out the first two floors. They also, I believe, still own the buildings that are home to Tapwerks and Club 115, some surface parking lots, and have part ownership in a couple of other buildings.
Terry 11:01 a.m. Cole mentioned in last week's chat how noxious fumes make it hard to breathe along the river trails at times. Other than the Stockyards, what do you suppose he smelled?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. I have no idea. I've taken the river cruiser and never noticed such a smell, but I've not walked the entire river trail system either.
Terry 11:02 a.m. The newest video of the streetcar route shows it running as far west as Dewey which came as a pleasant surprise since the route that was approved showed the route at it's northernmost tip only going as far west as Robinson. Do you know the story behind the change in route and if so will the Dewey extension be part of the first phase?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Dewey? Are you sure that's what you saw? I'll have to watch the video again later today.
Jason 11:02 a.m. I just wanted to say you do great work, Steve; I look forward to all your articles/posts/tweets/chats. I've been reading these chats since they started and understand that you have to save major news for actual articles, but I do enjoy the behind-the-scenes stuff and minor details we learn in the chats. Thanks for all you do!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Thanks Jason!
Doctor Taco 11:03 a.m. Why do key figures in OKC hate the idea of overhead wires on the streetcar so much? I know that there is no accounting for taste, but has anyone ever gone to a city with overhead wires (Portland, Charlotte, Denver) and thought, "Man, what a dump! If only they didn't have those pesky wires this place would be beautiful!"
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. My observation? It's generational. The question is, are we designing a downtown and city for Baby Boomers and even Generation X folks like myself, or are we designing it for Millennials and even younger folks ahead?
Terry 11:04 a.m. Have you heard any recent interest in expanding the Oklahoma River to the east? Every time I cross over the river on I-40 I think how much better it would look if another dam could be built, say near the 23rd Street bridge. It would actually border with Midwest City so it would benefit them too and costs could be shared. The river could include Eagle Lake and the small lakes north of the 10th Street bridge to make it bigger for such activities as water skiing. The surrounding land areas may even have the potential to build Ray Ackerman's dream 5-star golf resort along the river.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. It's been dreamed about.
RowerBrandon 11:04 a.m. I haven't heard anything about the apartment's on 10th and Shartel. Is it pulling a Metropolitan and dragging its feet a little bit, or have some problems arisen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. With all due respect, a person with experience in real estate development never asks this question. Timelines in major developments rarely stay intact. I urge developers, to be quite frank, not to be too precise in giving out a construction start date unless they are absolutely positive as to when the first heavy machinery is set to arrive on site. These developments have way too many variables that can change timelines. There is not "feet dragging" here. Trust me, these delays cost money. It's not that problems have arisen; it's just that deals go on their own schedules. It's like setting a schedule for when a toddler will be toilet trained. You can write up all the things you'll do to get that child taught to use the bathroom and when he'll be fully trained. And good luck with that. Because that toddler is going to get it done on his schedule. Well, guess what? Major urban real estate development is like a toddler. Sometimes, it's just going to dictate the timeline regardless of what its masters intend or want. Both projects you cite, from everything I've heard, are in fine shape and moving forward.
Anthony 11:09 a.m. Yeah something needs to be done on the street side parking on 23rd. It's pretty dangerous, difficult.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. OK.
Terry 11:09 a.m. I enjoy all the interesting entertainment districts OKC has to offer near downtown: Bricktown, Midtown, Automobile Alley, Uptown, the Plaza District, Paseo. Some cities our size have only one or two of these districts in their entire city. Even Deep Deuce, Film Row and Farmer's Market are turning into mini entertainment areas. I've heard some people complain that this weakens each district by having so many, but I believe it's just the opposite because it makes the entire city a more social environment. What's your take?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. I agree with you Terry.
Brent 11:09 a.m. Is the House of Bedlam responsible for repairing the cracking sidewalk near its excavation site? Seems to be getting pretty rough there with a hole in the ground and nothing going on.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. I don't know.
Brent 11:10 a.m. Is Spokies planning on expanding in the near future, i.e. Film District, Plaza District, etc.?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Not sure.
Brent 11:10 a.m. You teased us with the fact you were tracking another tower. Any timeline you would expect some movement on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Nope. It's a toddler.
Anthony 11:10 a.m. Any news on " the scissor-tailed flycatcher" (tavern and wingery) going into midtown? Just trying to stir things up...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Nope.
Anthony 11:11 a.m. A chat or 2 ago, u mentioned a mystery tower is being talked about. Any time line for this.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. Nope, it's a toddler.
Bert 11:11 a.m. Where's the much promised Ferris Wheel at the DOWNTOWN Airpark?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. It's in storage awaiting development of the airpark. Blair Humphreys is working on a plan.
Brent 11:12 a.m. Is Don Karchmer planning on continuing with his parking garage? If so, when can we expect an updated plan?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. Yep. I don't have a timeline, but prospects are looking good for the garage to become a reality and that it will accommodate any need for future rail traffic on the site.
Doctor Taco 11:15 a.m. Did you follow the Guyutes hearing yesterday? A small group of MEsta Park residents seem to be holding up the ABC permitting of the new restaurant. What is your take on this?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. Let me reserve an answer on this for now.
tjl 11:15 a.m. Steve, Can OKC continue to grow numerically without an influx of 25-40 year olds? I question how long the now steady and impressive population growth can continue without new jobs outside the energy sector
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. I believe we are seeing an influx of 25-40 year olds. We are seeing the Millenials staying put. We are seeing Generation Xers returning home. We are seeing a lot of talented people being recruited to our city - and not just by energy companies (I know of one very talented couple recruited by OU Children's Medical Center)
Anthony 11:16 a.m. I swear I saw Wanzer in the news recently but couldn't remember what it was about, what is he up to these days?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. He's up to a lot of stuff these days.
Guest 11:17 a.m. Did you upset Rand? Why has he been unwilling to do interviews? Isn't he normally open to discussing things?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. I'm not sure if he disliked by my coverage of his designs for Bicentennial Park or my reporting his purchase of land adjoining his office building. I just know he is choosing not to do interviews with me. I remain appreciative and admiring of many of his great projects in Oklahoma City, including much of the RiverSport park area of the Oklahoma River. And I think POPs in Arcadia is truly becoming a nationally significant Route 66 icon.
Guest 11:20 a.m. Are you concerned at all about how poorly Level is being taken care of? The landscaping (if you can call it that) is an embarrassment and the stucco is already needing repairs. Are we poised for more of the same with Mosaic?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. I've not noticed this. I can't really comment until I take a closer look.
Brent 11:20 a.m. I know you have not been a fan of the comments change on your blog and my own message was met with stony silence from the digital editor (only response was from yourself, thank you for that). Couldn't there be a sponsor or donation to offset whatever cost there would be to change back? How do we get that going?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. Let me talk to the NewsOK folks again.
Anthony 11:20 a.m. Any updates on the preftakes block?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. I believe we will have a tower on that site in five to 10 years.
Coy 11:21 a.m. Did you ever find out what the mound of dirt to the west of the future home of Bleu Garten is going to be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. That dirt is for land leveling.
Gary T 11:21 a.m. What are the chances I could get you out to see a Lyric show this summer? Any interest in seeing Les Miserables, Little Mermaid, Spamalot or A Little Night Music?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Heck yeah Gary. Can you set my wife and i up for Spamalot?
Bert 11:22 a.m. Mayor Humphries/DOWNTOWN Airpark: Conflict of interest?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. Let's start with your spelling of "Humphries." It's actually "Humphreys." Also, he hasn't been mayor since 2003. Kirk and Grant Humphreys submitted bids in a court-mandated bankruptcy auction after he left office. Are you suggesting that a man who previously served as mayor is not allowed to do real estate development once he has left office? I can tell you Humphreys repeatedly excused himself from votes at City Hall whenever there was even a question or appearance of a conflict. So my answer is an absolute "no."
Terry 11:26 a.m. Don Karchmer seems to be working hard to make everyone happy with his parking structure proposal in north Bricktown. What do you think are his chances of getting everyone on board: Union Pacific, the City, COTPA , etc. to get the necessary approvals.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. I think the chances are pretty good.
Bert 11:26 a.m. Please, do not act as a CENSOR!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. Bert, I only censor when the comments involve personal attacks, deception or appropriation of others' names, or blatant stupidity. Oh, and one more thing.... if you get really belligerent with me without provocation, yeah, I'm not required by my bosses to keep you in the conversation.
So pick your next comment or question carefully.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. One more bit of unsolicited advice Bert; try decaf.
Jason 11:29 a.m. Is the angled parking work complete in A-Alley or are they doing more? I just ask because while visiting my friend at 5th St Lofts I saw that it was angled there on the west side but still parallel on the east side in front of those apartments. Getting into a space isn't too bad but getting back out right in front of the 5th St traffic light is scary.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Yes, it's done.
Guest 11:29 a.m. Are the editors at The Oklahoman aware of your censorship of this Q&A? They soon will be!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Folks, the questions go into a que and I post them as I answer them. Remove the tinfoil hats, take a chill pill, and I'll answer these comments and questions as they come in, assuming they're not abusive. Go ahead, contact my editors. They're really nice people.
Guest 11:31 a.m. Who do you think nabs Villa Teresa? Midtown Renaissance? Someone else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. I think you've identified a top candidate.
Guest 11:31 a.m. What do you know about the apartments that were going to be built along Oklahoma Ave on the east side of downtown north of 6th?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. The Metropolitan is still in the works, and construction should be starting soon.
Jason 11:32 a.m. I'm actually surprised that you say villa teresa might go up for sale at all. I mean, it's essentially church property that they could hold on to indefinitely if they wanted or just lease out so someone and collect rent or sell across th church to Saints Medical System or something.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. I've been told directly by the Sisters that the property will be put up for sale, likely later this year. Prospective buyers might be surprised and annoyed at how even handed and transparent the sale process will be. I adore the Sisters. Just spending time with them is a huge boost to one's happiness. They are inspiring and delightful people, and I'll be sad to see them leave downtown.
RowerBrandon 11:34 a.m. 2014 will be a big year for development here in OKC. With these new hotels open, the new additions to the riverfront, completion of housing at various areas around the city and starting on the streetcar, along with much more, what do you think will be the biggest challenge that the city will face this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. First National Center.
Guest 11:35 a.m. Do you think the city could break up the garage monolith along EK Gaylord to connect Park to Gaylord? Should they?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. No and no.
mukkuu 11:35 a.m. Speaking of the Villa Teresa School... is there any way to get a tour of the campus before it's sold and changed?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. Yes. Submit a purchase bid.
Tyler 11:36 a.m. what is your thoughts on Energy FC selling out its home opener. What do you thick of Energy using Chesapeake Parking Garages for fans to park and take a shuttle to the stadium?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. I think the team is benefiting from some great banding and promotion, and I expect it to be a success.
Terry 11:36 a.m. I was reading where original cost estimates for the American Indian Cultural Center came in at $200 million. This is actually less than the amount spent so far $96 million, I believe, plus the additional $80 million slated as needed to finish the project for a total of $176 million. What kind of idiots are in the State Capitol building that will approve starting such a huge project without a plan to properly fund it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. My 27-year-old state representative was elected after he sent out a flyer bragging about having killed an alligator with a photo of his foot atop the stuffed alligator's head. Mike Turner is now running for Congress.
Bert 11:38 a.m. Who is NewsOK Sports that is dominating this chat? Is that you, Steve?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Yes Bert. It was a glitch that has been fixed.
Chase 11:38 a.m. Whats the status on replacing Russell Claus in the Planning department and will his (& previous others) departure spark greater appreciation for City Planners in OKC? (Im currently living out of state, and have been out of touch with this subject.)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. This story by Bill Crum will answer your questions:
Bob 11:39 a.m. We were wondering why there was not any sports talk. :-)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. Let's not talk sports. I'm still depressed over the past two Thunder games.
King George 11:40 a.m. Sir Slackmeyer, I tried to ride my bike around town yesterday and in order to avoid riding on N.Classen, I opted for the sidewalks. The sidewalks are so bad, they blew out my tire. How do we fix Classen between NW 23rd and Main? This is the main corridor from I-40 northwards and it is quite horrendous towards anything other than vehicles.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. Contact Councilwoman Meg Salyer and tell her you want to see Classen included in the next bond issue submitted to voters. I'm not allowed to suggest that you fake an injury and sue the city.
Guest 11:41 a.m. Outside of a hotel, what other amenities do you think the Boathouse District needs that it will realistically be able to add? What other attractions?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. I think a Wolf Mountain Resort or something similar is the only lodging needed. I really have no reason to second guess the great planning already being done by the Boathouse Foundation.
Pat 11:42 a.m. I've construction equipment at the GE location. Would you consider this facility and it's purpose one of the best for OKC in 2014 ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Yeah, it's huge. The GE research lab is going to be a far bigger bonanza for Oklahoma City than many realize.
Bob 11:43 a.m. Is there any way to resolve the 23rd street parking issues to the statisfaction of the neighbors and allow additional development?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Yes. Create a TIF district and build structured parking.
Anthony 11:43 a.m. Would Austin or Houston be jealous of this development that kc or Dallas would be jealous of? If this prospective development was going forward, when would the public be informed about its details?
D Stout 11:43 a.m. Steve can you share any new details on the development you mentioned would make Dallas jealous. Possible outdoor concert venue?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. I teased this once last fall. The deal is still in the works. If it goes dead, I'll let you know.
BethanySooner 11:44 a.m. A couple of years back you had an article regarding the demolition of the old Hales Photography Bldg on Broadway. Jonathon Russell purchased this property with the intention of constructing a 3-4 story new build. Where is Mr Russell at in this process?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. He is busy developing The Rise first at NW 23 and Walker Avenue. But the quality of this development should give folks hope on what's possible on Broadway.
sooner than later 11:44 a.m. Steve--Check out Trinity Groves in the Dallas area near downtown. I was there this week and thought it would be a great assest if we could something similar on the Oklahoma River, across from the boathouse district. Any news or discussions on what could happen with that set of land, the one directly across from the boathouses?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. I might be going to Dallas in June, so I'll check it out.
Elise 11:45 a.m. Hi Steve. Do you know what is happening with the old brick building on the east side of Walker and 8th Street? Lots of work going on in there. Sorry if this question has already been asked, and answered.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. I think you're talking about the one story building across from St. Anthony. It's now home to Studio Architecture.
sooner than later 11:45 a.m. With all this talk about Tapstone Energy, no one has mentioned what is happening with the current business' in the building. Is the club closing and the chocolate/coffee store? Will that club move elsewhere? While I wasn't a fan of that club it did bring a lot of patrons to the area. With the demise of that and SKKY Bar are we seeing Bricktown changing from a major club scene to something else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. I don't have anything to report yet on the future of either tenant. You can speculate as to whether Tom Ward wants to co-tenant with City Walk.As for the clubs, I see an emerging awareness with most Bricktown property owners (with the exception of Jeff Brown) that these clubs are not best for the district because they are open only a couple of nights a week and they generate a lot of crime and violence. We're talking nightclubs - not bars. Skinny Slims, Whiskey Chicks, Wormy Dog Saloon and Captain Norm's are all considered great assets to the district.
By the way, the woman who was found injured from a rape last week had just left one of the nightclubs.
BethanySooner 11:48 a.m. Have you heard anything yet regarding the parking structure that is to built with the Journal Record Bldg renovation? Ground level retail on the Robinson side perhaps? Also, will the parking for this help alleviate some of the parking needs for surrounding businesses?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. Planning and design work is underway. And yes, it is still set to include a garage, possibly with ground floor retail.
sooner than later 11:49 a.m. How was the decision made on Broadway that two lanes will go south and one lane north? It seems that people arrive in downtwon at various times in the morning but everyone wants to head north right after 5:00 p.m. I like the new angled parking but with only one lane going north it's causing some backups at stoplights with people trying to merge.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. It was made by engineers far smarter than I.
Nate 11:50 a.m. With the Devon building and OG&E building taking up 1/2 of the Sheridan/Hudson is there a plan for the Northwest corner of that intersection? The block between Hudson, Walker, Main & Sheridan is owned by Sheridan Redevelopers LLC, Main Investors LLC and Oklahoma City. Any chance that the city offices move and that block becomes the next high rise? Any idea who's running Sheridan LLC and Main LLC behind the scenes?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. Nick Preftakes is the LLC. He has yet to announce plans for the block. But don't be surprised if it's developed into a tower.
Idea Man 11:53 a.m. Did the idea of this chat come from your dreams Steve, or are other publications doing this around the country. Do you know how this chat stacks up in readership to other publications in the country?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. Dreams or nightmares? (joking)
The chat was conceived by the folks at NewsOK, a team led quite well by Alan Herzberger. They started this with the sports folks first, then roped me into it. I do not know how this stacks up against other news sites or if it's being done elsewhere. Mr. Herzberger, I think you have your next column.
soonerred 11:56 a.m. With all the projects you report on & give us info there anyway you can help us to get find central chat easier? It is the most painful site to find.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Tiffany? Alan?
Terry 11:56 a.m. Is the amusement park what you were referring to as the entertainment venue that would make Dallas & KC jealous?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. No.
Guest 11:56 a.m. Are you excited about Aubrey Hammontree's promotion? Do you have a professional relationship with her? I think she'll be a good change to the city and can bring some new fresh ideas to OKC.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. Yes, I've know Aubrey for quite some time and I have a great deal of respect for her. She loves Oklahoma City and I think she can provide the city with some great planning if the department is able to get out of the shadow of public works.
Guest 12:00 p.m. Now with the Festival of the Arts nearly over, what is the projected timeline that we'll learn of the demolishing of
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. I suspect it won't be long.
Klint 12:00 p.m. Are you excited for Energy FC's first home game tomorrow?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. I think it's a great addition for Oklahoma City.
Jason 12:01 p.m. "Major urban real estate development is like a toddler." Is that like your new twitter bio/ email signature or something?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Are you getting tired of "PR Pro: Lackmeyer, shut your mouth"?
Guest 12:01 p.m. What is Aubrey Hammontree's position on the western part of the Boulevard?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. I don't know.
Guest 12:01 p.m. Is Don Karchmer having problems getting investors for his north Bricktown parking garage?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. Heck no.
Guest 12:02 p.m. Why is it taking so long to get the Project 180 paint fixed? Clearly it wasn't up to the job.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. The city has put out bids. I need to ask City Engineer Eric Wenger why, if I understand it right, we have to pay again for these crosswalks when the job was poorly done to begin with.
Guest 12:03 p.m. If there was to be another Project 180 would lessons would have been learned? Which item was the biggest cost over-run? Conversely, what was the biggest item that was in the original plans and got quietly dropped?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:04 p.m. I think people would be surprised at the number of problems that emerged at the otherwise beloved makeover of the Myriad Gardens. The biggest item to be dropped? Several streets, new bus shelters and standardized periodical/newspaper vending machines.
Sooner Than Later 12:04 p.m. Why is Tom Ward 'renting' in Bricktown? Am I reading that correctly? The property owners have to put $17 million into renovating the building before Tapstone will go forward--once other stuff has been approved. Tom has enough money, why isn't he just purchasing the property?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. The days of corporations spending a lot of money on owner-occupied towers and office space is, I am told, over due to the emergence of investor activists. Tom is putting his money into building his company - even sold his shares in the Thunder for this very purpose.
Terry 12:06 p.m. I was at the Boathouse District (sorry RiverSport Park) yesterday and I think I understand Rand Elliot's desire to not plant trees along the north side of the river. It would not only block the views of the sporting events, but would ruin the visual impact of the line of sight of his buildings looking parallel with the river. I can respect that requirement. However, there could be trees planted on the north side of his buildings without detracting from his vision of the area. The entire area is exposed to the elements and could use some areas of refuge. Maybe there are other ways to provide shade without trees that can minimize the effect on the sightlines.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:07 p.m. Yeah, if I could ask Rand any question at this moment, it would be about the removal of large trees at some of these projects he designs. I want to know - does he advocate the removal of such trees to create the idealized view of his buildings? Or is there something else I don't understand?
Guest 12:07 p.m. Steve,Is tourism up with all of the changes in OKC? Is tourism a major industry here? How can we make it a better place to visit? Perhaps you could have someone from the tourism office as a Friday guest.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. I can't really answer this other than say from my own observation that yeah, tourism is up.
Maybe I can use this to tempt CVB director Mike Carrier to join us someday.
King George 12:09 p.m. Sir Slackmeyer, Toddlers...Censorship...Accusations...Potty Training...This is better than reality television.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. You forgot the alligator-killing lawmaker.
Not A Fan Anymore 12:09 p.m. Your chats and responses have longer a fan...
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. Sorry.
Adrian 12:10 p.m. Hello Mr. Lackmeyer, I am a fairly recent transplant to the Oklahoma City area. I'm from Nashville, Tn. I have noticed all the talk in recent times about the streetcar system in the works here in the city. My concern however, is how the city can justify spending that amount of money for that particular system when the buses aren't modernized nor the routes extensive. I live on the N.W side of town and I notice how I never see any buses running after 630p. Not to mention that this seems to be a very fast growing part of the city. Please don't get me wrong I love the idea of a street car. My question is... How does this investment into our city benefit those how don't have a vehicle to get to work let alone downtown on the weekend after 6p to enjoy a ride on the streetcar.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. This is a question a lot of people are struggling with, and I appreciate your even-handed approach to it all. Some say the streetcar will help generate new interest in public transit that will help generate support for increased funding for Rapid Bus Transit and more bus routes. Others hope to create a regional passenger rail system. I do see increasing interest in public transit and I believe a funding proposal will arise within the next few years.
Guest 12:12 p.m. Shartel has a bike lane. I'd never ride a bike on Classen.
Terry 12:12 p.m. What businesses are still in the First National Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. Quite a few, but still far less than even a year ago. Occupancy is plummeting.
RowerBrandon 12:12 p.m. Would the land between Lincoln and I-40 just north of the Devon and Chesapeake Boathouse have any possibility for building on? I'm referencing the land that has the, what I assume, big oil drums and such
Steve Lackmeyer 12:13 p.m. Sure.
Terry 12:13 p.m. I finally saw the Park Harvey paint job and I kinda like it. Yeah, it's a bit 70's looking, still it's interesting. It's like visiting the paint department at Home Depot and looking at all the paint chips, but I mean that in a good way. My only concern is now that they've painted an anodized metal skin, how long will it be till the paint starts peeling. Same question could be asked of the Gold Dome paint job over it's anodized panels.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:13 p.m. Yeah, I'm curious about that as well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Guest 12:13 p.m. Did you see that Chris Johnson put his building on Sheridan up for sale? I wonder if the HoB is bleeding him dry.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:14 p.m. Bricktown development has turned out to be far more complicated and challenging financially than I think Chris Johnson originally anticipated.
Terry 12:14 p.m. Why do you think it's a bad idea to connect Park and EK Gaylord? I think an opening at street level could be done that wouldn't destroy the integrity of the structure, but could allow for access for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:14 p.m. I didn't say it's a bad idea. I'm just being honest in saying I don't see it happening in my lifetime. The math simply doesn't work.
Breckenridge 12:15 p.m. Steve- You'd need at least 50 million dollars of additional development in the 23rd area to make a TIF even feasible...there wouldn't be enough INCREMENT to make it work
Steve Lackmeyer 12:15 p.m. I'm not so sure your assumptions are correct.
Nick 12:15 p.m. Do you know if the city is going to redo the offramp from 235 to 10th St at the same time the GE campus is under construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. I think it has to. By the way, the work will be done by ODOT, not the city.
Nick 12:16 p.m. Any ideas what Blair Humphreys is considering for the airpark?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. He has yet to make his plans public.
Ex-Catholic 12:16 p.m. Just a note about Villa Teresa. I worked for an order of nuns for many years and most orders own their own property because, although they are Catholic, they are self-supporting. I would guess that since there are few young women entering orders these days, and the current population of sisters is aging, they will want to sell their property and use the money to sustain their order in these changing times.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. Yep. And they are going to sell it.
Ladd 12:16 p.m. As a parent of a toddler I found the remark hilarious and a great analogy.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. Thanks!
laura 12:16 p.m. I join others in thanking you for this informative chat. I look forward to it every week.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:17 p.m. Thanks as well!
Guest 12:17 p.m. bikes no not belong on sidewalks ..
Guest 12:17 p.m. also the streetcar was part of Maps 3 .. very different funding
RowerBrandon 12:17 p.m. What's the progress on the Youth Pavilion next to the Sky Trail on the river? I was under the impression it would be built in combination with the Sky Trail
Steve Lackmeyer 12:17 p.m. Good question!
Steve Lackmeyer 12:19 p.m. So to summarize, Bert is peeved at me and thinks I'm censoring questions. Another person thinks the quality of this chat has gone downhill. And the rest of you are happy.
I'll take that game score. Have a great weekend everyone, and be sure to get outside and enjoy everything downtown. We have H&8th tonight at Hudson and NW 8, we have the Arts Festival through Sunday, and we have fun going on along the Oklahoma River.
You'll see me at least at one of these events.
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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