OKC Central Chat transcript, April 4, 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 4, 2014 at 11:42 am •  Published: April 4, 2014
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/span> At this time, I don't think so.
RAFAEL 10:27 a.m. What is the pile of dirt in between the two Dowell developments?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. I'm going to need more specific detail on this question.
CeCe 10:27 a.m. I noticed a lot of the abandoned houses and trees had been cleared between NE 4th Street and NE 1st Street between Lincoln Boulevard and Washington Park. Are you aware of something about to finally develop over there? Or are property owners just finally cleaning up their lots?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. I'll have to check it out.
Coy 10:27 a.m. Any information yet on what they're going to use the former Paseo Underground building as now that they've discovered the nice facade?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. Yes! It's going to be home to Pizzeria Gusto. Read my recent story here: http://newsok.com/surprise-...
DWR 10:29 a.m. Morning Steve: I attended an event last week at the Tower (Marriott) hotel. It was in terrible shape. It smelled, the bathroom was nasty. Do you know the future of this hotel. Is it going to have a new franchise name? It"s sad. It used too be one of the best in town.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. I'm hearing from quite a few people the hotel has fallen on hard times. That's all I can tell you at this time.
Coy 10:29 a.m. Also, there is a sign in the empty parking lot across from Sauce'd in the Paseo and East of the Avalon along Paseo Drive that says "Coming Soon Retail, Residential, and Office Space." Have you heard anything about that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Aware of it. Inquiring for info.
RowerBrandon 10:30 a.m. Goodmorning Steve. Any updates on the progress of the Steelyard apartments? I know you've mentioned contamination and other problems, but it has been pretty quiet on that property the past couple of weeks. Just envisioning that portion of Bricktown with that development will be an instant facelift to the area.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. Work is ongoing. Part of that involves site monitoring, testing. We're likely looking at construction starting late this year.
Yeoman 10:31 a.m. Do you have any idea why the pedestrian poles on Walker in between City Hall and the Civic Center do not work? For that matter, why are the Project 180 in the vicinity of Hudson, Main Street and Walker incomplete? There are sandbags, and wooden boxes covering conduit on almost every corner.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Good question. I'll ask this of the city's Project 180 office.
BethanySooner 10:31 a.m. Have you heard anything on when construction might start on the apartments at 10th and Shartel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. The last I checked, we're looking at later this year.
John 10:32 a.m. Steve, Open Streets on Uptown 23rd was a great success! Were you able to make it out? Do you think they will continue this and make it a monthly (some argue weekly) tradition? Also, what changes would you suggest?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. I was not able to make it out due to some miserable allergies. I suspect the Uptown folks would love to make this a monthly event. I'm not sure there are any changes I can suggest at this time.
John 10:33 a.m. Steve, Any idea on what's going on with the former bank building across from Pizza 23?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. It's for lease or sale.
Bob 10:33 a.m. I haven't been to Bricktown in a while. Has anything gone in where Coach's used to be at the ballpark? If not, are there any plans that you know of?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. Nope.
Coy 10:33 a.m. What is the status of that shipping container shopping center?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. I think Richard McKown is still going through the city review process.
Guest 10:34 a.m. Several weeks ago you mentioned an entertainment venue that would make Dallas or Kansas City jealous. Is that still on track?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. So far, yes.
John 10:34 a.m. What's the liklihood of the streetcar moving up broadway and down NW 23rd. With all of the development in Uptown this seems like a next logical step.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. If the initial streetcar system is a success, aggressive expansion is definitely possible.
cb 10:35 a.m. Looking forward to Bleu Garten opening? I think it will be a great hang out spot
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. Yes!
Bootney Lee Fawnsworth 10:35 a.m. Any updates on Trader Joes coming to OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. I keep hearing they're looking at the Classen Curve area.
Elise 10:35 a.m. We have two Natural Grocers here in Tulsa and I know there is one in Norman. I really like the smaller than Sprouts and Whole Foods size and they have really nice all organic produce. I read on their web site for new store locations they had "OKC - TBA" even as late as last week. Now I can't find it. Do you know anything about their plans?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. City planning documents show they are building a store at NW 164 and Western.
Theresa 10:37 a.m. Devon giving $500,000 to OKC Ballet big news. Do you know which companies in OKC make the biggest difference in direct charity to things like homelessness, hunger, poverty?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Devon Energy is also a leader in helping those less fortunate. Here's a link that talks about their involvement with the Regional Food Bank: http://www.regionalfoodbank...
Harbinger80 10:38 a.m. Good morning Steve, I realize that your expertise is more concentrated on the urban core of OKC, but I have been curious about a story that I read in another Oklahoma publication about a year and a half ago, and have been itching for an update. Reportedly there was to be a study on how to improve the appearance/create a master plan for the I-240 corridor, especially in light of this thoroughfare being the first impression that many visiting OKC from Will Rogers get. Are you aware of this study and if so, do you know where it stands today?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. I know that there was a study done in conjunction with the Urban Land Institute, but I am not up to date on the status of that plans implementation for i-240.
Guest 10:39 a.m. Does the news coming up in the next week have anything to do with something that will make Dallas and KC jealous?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Nope.
RowerBrandon 10:39 a.m. When will we start to see some solid development South of the Chesapeake Arena? So much room for development, but such a barren area at the moment.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Once the park and convention center get built into Core to Shore, I suspect the rest of the area will develop at a pretty quick pace.
Guest 10:40 a.m. Any hope of one day making Bricktown more pedestrian-oriented? People have this perception that Bricktown doesn't match up to entertainment districts in other cities like Tulsa or Omaha despite the fact that it actually is larger and offers more. The reason for that perception is its still a very auto-centric district, with high-speed, four lane avenues going through it and too much visible surface parking. Narrowing Sheridan and Reno to two lanes and doesn't something like a Project 180 could give the district that more intimate feel many think its been lacking.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. I agree with you 100 percent. Bricktown has suffered from a lack of strong leadership and an unhealthy slant to quick, short term benefit to property owers. But Bricktown's leadership is beginning to see they are no longer the only game in town. They're aware of the issues you cite.
Theresa 10:42 a.m. Christopher Leinberger, who came to the OUIQC Placemaking conference and president of LOCUS, a national coalition of “responsible real estate developers and investors,” says that while capturing only 1 percent of the national market for conventions would likely be profitable, 300 cities bought that same logic. Are the players involved sure this is the best way to spend 250+ million of MAPS3 Money or are they just following through even though the train has left the station on this type of economic development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. The problem for Oklahoma City is we don't really have a convention center at all. It's an outdated arena with small convention wing added as part of the original MAPS. Even Ed Shadid once acknowledged Cox Center doesn't cut it and a new convention center is needed. The debate is over how big, and whether we need a conference hotel. Regardless of what Leinberger says, and I don't know much about LOCUS, convention business does benefit Oklahoma City. It does benefit other cities. To what degree is part of the debate. I would suggest to readers that there are ample "consultants" and "think tanks" and "coalitions" on both sides of the debate who do not deserve blind faith and trust in what they say. There is a lot of manipulation out there, and Oklahoma City needs to navigate through that and figure out what is best for Oklahoma City.
Guest 10:46 a.m. Do you foresee downtown expanding their Underground Tunnels or Skyways to the west to include the new OGE Building and Devon Tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. No.
RAFAEL 10:47 a.m. The pile of dirt is on the north side of 5th street between Dewey and Walker. It is next to a bulding that Dowell fixed up and one that is in the process of fixing up.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. Nope. But I'll ask Dowell.
reeding 10:47 a.m. I've been hearing rumors of COSTCO moving into the metro area...any truth to these?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. It will happen. I'm just not sure anymore about the timing.
Guest 10:48 a.m. Has Project 180 been more of a problem then anyone expected? Seems like it takes over 6 months just to finish 1-2 blocks of a straight away. Who's job should we be calling for?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. It was a problem. But if you look at the timeliness of completion underway with Dean A. McGee Avenue by Kitchen No. 324, I'm confounded as to why anyone should be criticized. Things are going much, much more smoothly these days.
Gary T 10:49 a.m. Congrats on the Dean A Mcgee award Steve! Care to give an acceptance speech to your OKC Central chat readers?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Thanks Gary.
An acceptance speech? Well, ah, all I can say at this point is it caught me by surprise and is a very humbling thing for me.
Guest 10:50 a.m. Dunlap Codding is doing so many amazing things on Film Row, but I hear they are extremely frustrated by the myriad of conflicting county, state and city rules to do public events, from having a food trucks to having a band at night.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. Yeah. We're going to get into all that.
RowerBrandon 10:50 a.m. Has Aloft filled its restaurant and retail spots in its building yet? That hotel is so cool
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I'll have an update soon.
Clarence 10:50 a.m. Dunlap Codding is doing so many amazing things on Film Row, but I hear they are extremely frustrated by the myriad of conflicting county, state and city rules to do public events, from having a food trucks to having a band at night. They are lawyers and feel stymied. Who can help.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. As I said, I'll be getting this.
reeding 10:50 a.m. Any news on an IKEA coming to town?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. No.
Pat 10:51 a.m. Hi Steve, Got some good stories coming this weekend ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Yes. I guess I should inform my editor.
Gary T 10:51 a.m. You said you keep hearing that Trader Joes is looking at Classen Curve. Have things changed in the last couple of months? It seems like we were always led to believe they would go into Nichols Hills Plaza.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Forgive me. Classen Curve/Nichols Hills Plaza area.
Elise 10:51 a.m. What would be your guess where the next retail corridor in the downtown area might be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Broadway, Broadway, Broadway.
Guest 10:52 a.m. Did Chesapeake recently sell a strip of land next to the Downtown Airpark, along the river? If so, do you see that as a potential site for a Soccer Stadium?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Yep. I can see it as a possibility.
Bobby 10:52 a.m. Is the entertainment venue you spoke of making Dallas jealous, the same development that Top Golf is going in?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. No.
BethanySooner 10:52 a.m. The latest design for the new Convention Center shows the underground portion heading west under Hudson Ave with the potential expansion under that next city block or blocks. Will that make the block bounded by Hudson, Walker, Reno, and SW 3rd undevelopable?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. That's up for debate. CVB wants the land reserved for future expansion, others want to see the area developed. it's a good discussion to have, and it's ongoing.
Guest 10:53 a.m. When can we expect to see some real dirt being moved in the Centennial Park? Have plans been finalized or did we make enough noise to send them back to the drawing boards to give us a park we really want?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Centennial Park? What is that?
FraggleRock 10:54 a.m. When do you think the public at large might actually get let in on this secret entertainment venue you know of that will make KC/Dallas jealous? It's a bit frustrating because you tease us with info like that, and if it falls through, we never find out what was in the pipeline of potential. Can you tell us a little about any part of it? Possible location? Developers? Timeline? Anything?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. No. That's all I can tell you right now. If it falls through, I'll tell you.
BethanySooner 10:54 a.m. Do you think that there might be some local philanthropists who might step up to add some pizazz to the proposed Central Park? It seems that Tulsa's new park - which looks dynamite from the renderings - will be funded by a combination of public and private funds.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Central Park, Centennial Park ... ok, I'm going to assume these are all references to the MAPS 3 park set for Core to Shore. I am sensing NO corporate, philanthropic interest in this park. I am not even sure who the constituency is.
FraggleRock 10:57 a.m. What do you think about David Nazarian's comments in your publication yesterday? Is he poised for bigger things in OKC? The Sheraton is a hideous looking hotel and Sycamore Square is pretty awful by design standards. Hopefully if he gets more involved, things look better on his future investments.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. I think he's worth watching.
Adam 10:57 a.m. At some point could TIFs be considered no longer needed when the districts were set up? Could the monies be redirected to helping city services?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. By their very nature, TIFs expire after 20 years and then you see a big influx of funding for schools, libraries, the city and county in that area.
Harbinger80 10:58 a.m. I noticed what looks like a small development less than one block east of the Camp's 1910 Cafe on 10th St. Do you know what that could be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I'll have to go see what you're talking about.
Gary T 10:58 a.m. Steve, do you ever regret teasing us with development news knowing nothing is set in stone and things can change?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I don't see myself as having teased anything. I'm asked on this chat what I'm tracking. I answer as honestly as I can. I try to explain the significance of what I'm tracking. But I'm not going to blurt out information and rumors prematurely. Sometimes that can kill a deal. Or sometimes, it's just too shaky, it gets people's hopes up, and then disappointment follows. I'm not going to tell you I'm perfect at this. But I'm doing my best.
Gary T 11:00 a.m. What is the timeline on the Century Center now? Looks like the bland, tan panels are starting to come down finally.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. The Oklahoman is set to move in by January, 2015.
Thanks 11:00 a.m. Steve, Do you think we'll see a quality high rise development at the lumber yard site ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. I don't see anything that leads me to believe a deal is imminent.
Gary T 11:01 a.m. BT main street parking garage update?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Don Karchmer is still working on it.
Ryan Bent 11:02 a.m. Steve, Do you think there would be enough support in Oklahoma City to support a NFL or NHL team if one was to move from Seattle or Nashville?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. No.
bluto 11:02 a.m. thoughts on steve hunt running a closer race against Cornett than shadid did?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Nope.
Gary T 11:02 a.m. Whatever happened to the two hotels on either side of Russell M Perry and 1st?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. I have doubts we are going to see them developed. I think suburban limited hotel developers are beginning to realize they won't be allowed to plop just a clone of what they've already built in the suburbs in Bricktown or Deep Deuce.
RAFAEL 11:03 a.m. With the vandalism of the Myriad Gardens this week. Do you see the MAPS 3 park having more issues with it stretching to the river and having a larger footprint to monitor?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Yep.
Ryan Bent 11:04 a.m. Steve, I have seen the City hall in Oklahoma City and it's a nice place. Do you ever see City hall becoming too overcrowded and them having to replace it to keep up with the growth of the city?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. The City Hall building is configured just fine for what is located in the building. A lot of other operations are located in two other buildings at 420 W Main and 100 N Walker. I don't know of any overcrowding issues.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. Steve, I know we don't say this enought but thanks again for all your hard work and hosting these chats every week. Any clue as to a special guest in the coming weeks?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. I've got a few in mind. But nothing I can announce just yet.
Pat 11:05 a.m. Steve, Anything going on at the old BOA site just North of the Museum of Art ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Nothing firm.
J_R 11:06 a.m. Do you expect the railroad bridge situation between the Boathouse District and Bricktown Canal to come to an end anytime soon? Or is it just a matter of the RR flexing whatever little muscle they have left... With spring being here, you would expect an uptick in traffic in the area.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Yeah, I'm hearing from city folks a resolution should be reached soon
FraggleRock 11:06 a.m. Do you have an exciting story planned for Sunday?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Nope.
FraggleRock 11:06 a.m. Also, are you hearing anything at all on the Preftakes block?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Nothing firm yet.
FraggleRock 11:06 a.m. Have you heard about any changes to OG&E Tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Nope.
Harbinger80 11:07 a.m. Do you think that a single occupant major corporation would be best for the First National Center or would it be more advantageous for several smaller companies to become tenants there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Neither. It needs mixed use.
BethanySooner 11:07 a.m. Is the Staybridge Suites Hotel still on track for SE Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Not sure.
Bob 11:07 a.m. Do you think that something will be done eventually at the cotton mill site?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. I don't know. It's a very difficult property to develop.
Gary T 11:07 a.m. How is construction on the OCU law school coming along? When is an expected opening date?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. It's going good. They're set to open next year.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. OK folks, I'm going to call it quits now. Have a great weekend.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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