Share “OKC Central Chat transcript, Aug. 22, 2014”

OKC Central Chat transcript, Aug. 22, 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 10:30 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm •  Published: August 22, 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 10:30 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:59 a.m. Good morning. Steve will be logging in at 10:30 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Gary T 10:34 a.m. Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you! So, it looks like the Plaza Discount Store is going to be downsizing and rebranding. What kind of retails establishments would you like to see in the remaining spaces? I think a tea store and a library (hipster oriented, of course) would go well there. Maybe a place like Voodoo Donuts in Portland? Thoughts?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. I visited with Steve Mason on Wednesday. The store is going to reopen with a new name, new operator, and overall, a far better product mix and presentation. And yes, the bars will be coming off the windows. I visited with Steve about this property several weeks ago soon after the sale was closed. At that time the question was, what would be the best fit for the Plaza District? What is needed by the surrounding neighborhoods? I apparently was one of a handful of people who suggested Steve drive around suburban neighborhoods to see what retailers they have nearby. One realization that came out of this was that Steve saw Westlake Hardware stores, Lowes, Home Depots, and various other retailers with items that are needed on a regular basis. Without such big box retailers showing an interest in the urban core, and the fact such chains are not expanding much these days, neighborhoods like the Plaza District seem like ideal locations to revive the old fashioned variety store concept. When I was growing up, you could go to a TG&Y, get some basic grocery items, toys, hardware, cleaning supplies, school supplies, kitchen items and more. The Plaza Discount Store, on one hand, provided this service the surrounding neighborhoods. But it had a very poor presentation (women's bras next to kitchen staples) and was cluttered with junk that was not selling and just took up space. It also had an entire row of shelving dedicated to paper plates instead of storing excess supply in the back room. I think the new store will be a great addition to the Plaza District, Gatewood and Classen-10-Penn.
Gary T 10:43 a.m. Do you think the city will change its stance on moving the signs for just the Maywood Apartments II? Maybe the Maywood people could pay for the permit and the movement of the sign?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. The problem is, as I wrote on my OKC Central blog today, that the sign simply may not be allowed to exist if it is removed from the existing location.
Gary T 10:44 a.m. Lots of frustrating tweets coming from the FlashBack RetroPub people last week. Do you think if communication would have been better, then maybe FlashBack wouldn't be looking for new digs?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. No. And remember, those tweets are just one side of the story. Here's my take: old, mucked up properties like The Rise are difficult for even the most experienced developers. Everyone loves the Sieber Hotel Apartments now, but they forget this project also experienced a years-long delay. It's easy to throw rocks at developers who fall behind on such projects. But I have yet to hear criticism against Jonathan Russell who I think could have done it any better. Did Russell make mistakes? Probably. But I can give you the names of 10 other highly respected developers who have made their own share of mistakes. Give Russell credit for attempting this task - especially in light of his history as someone who had pretty much done standard suburban style developments not involving renovation/restoration of mucked up old buildings. In retrospect, The Rise is probably not a good location for first-time start-up retailers.
Gary T 10:50 a.m. Why didn't Jonathan Russell and the LandRun people talk to the media before last week about the hold ups? I have been wondering for at least six months what was taking so long. The reasoning is perfectly acceptable and understandable (dealing with older buildings takes more time and money) but the fact that it just came out recently is frustrating
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Communication is a two-way street. I did an update with Russell in late spring, and it took me a couple of weeks to contact him after realizing The Rise was not going to open by the revised target of August.
Guest 10:52 a.m. Good Morning-back in March you announced the plans for a new Baker-Hughes facility on the broadway extension. Any updates on where that stands,seems they were to employ some 450 people Thaks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Yeah, an update is needed on Baker-Hughes.
Kris 10:52 a.m. How long until we receive an update on the Wheeler District plan? The charrette experience was so engaging and I want the enthusiasm to continue.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Blair Humphreys is in discussions with potential developers and plenty of work is going on behind the scenes. I suspect we will hear more later this year.
Kris 10:53 a.m. When is the City going to re-stripe the Project 180 streets that are now almost completely worn due to the defective paint?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Funding was approved to re-stripe the streets, but I am not sure when work will begin.
Gary T 10:54 a.m. With the redevelopment of the DT Airpark eminent, do the concert promoters have any interest in establishing another outdoor venue elsewhere in the future?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Howard Pollack is a veteran concert promoter and he is determined to maintain an outdoor venue in Oklahoma City. I am not sure amphitheater is facing immediate displacement from the airpark. But I do suspect the venue will need to move within the next couple of years. As an aside, is it just me or does it seem as if buzz for the Zoo Amphitheater has died since the Zoo Trust terminated its operation agreement with Pollock while a lot of acts, a lot of activity has taken place at Pollack's new venue at the Downtown Airpark?
How many divisions has Jim Couch? 10:58 a.m. Could it happen here? What's the largest piece of military hardware owned by OCPD? How did that acquisition pass through City Council? On the consent docket with no comment at all? Hey, Homeland Security is giving us this tank for free. Would be kinda cool to have...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. This is off my beat, but I have known Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty for 20 years. There is no comparison between Citty and the chief we've seen in Ferguson. That's not to say OCPD is perfect, or that our city is free of racial tension. I've also not known Citty or OCPD to be big into putting on big shows, getting into the sort of bravado that involves driving military vehicles converted into police vehicles in parades. I am not even aware of OCPD owning such equipment, though that doesn't mean they don't. The Oklahoma County Sheriff's office, however, does own such vehicles and does show them off.
Guest 11:02 a.m. When's the Karchmer garage going to start in north Bricktown? has he dealt with the rail people's concerns yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Karchmer is waiting for completion of a study on potential rail transit routes before moving forward with development of the garage.
Guest 11:09 a.m. What's going on with the Boulevard? Will you be posting your correspondence with ODOT?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. OK. I know this has been requested for a few weeks. I'll go ahead and post here on the chat. The following is an email conversation that took place on May 30, 2014:

Steve: Eric Wenger has said that ODOT won’t pay for the grid option (Option D). Is this true?

ODOT: We've answered your question about funding before and nothing's changed since our May 15 email. Many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected.

Our discussions with the City and project agreements have been clear from the beginning, that construction using federal funds on the project will be available for any roadway work that will take place within the old I-40 right-of-way. Any alternative selected will be eligible for federal funding. Any alternative selected will require ODOT and the City of OKC to discuss revisions to the project agreement based on additional features and what would still qualify for funding.

STEVE: OK, I just talked to Eric, so let’s take another shot at this.
Is it true ODOT will not fund the portion of Option D, as it is presented, that stretches from Walker and Western Avenues and is not in the old I-40 highway alignment?

ODOT: While Option D is eligible for federal funds, the portion from Walker to Western is not included in the current agreement because it is outside of old I-40 right-of-way.

We're concerned your singling out this one alternate when others include areas that are outside of current funding obligation per project agreement. As said before, ODOT cannot select an alternate until after the public comment process is complete after the public hearing. Many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected. No matter which alternate is selected, ODOT is committed to work with the City of OKC for resolution of these issues.

Steve: I am not singling this out. This is a reflection of what was said at Eric Wenger’s presentation. There were no other comments regarding portions of the other options that also are not going to be funded by ODOT.
Please provide me with that information and I will use that as well.

ODOT: Steve, let me clarify more. We have responded....any portions in any of the options that fall outside the footprint of the old Crosstown right of way will have to be evaluated for funding in a new agreement

Let me ask my question differently.
Can you please provide me with a list of improvements/road upgrades shown on Options A through C that are not considered to be within the old highway alignment?

ODOT: There isn't very detailed information because plans are not detailed yet.

Part of Alternate C not included in the original I-40 right of way includes the Classen to Western connection and the modification to Reno.

Alternates A, B, C and D all have the Oklahoma Connection that is out of original I-40 right of way.

Again, please realize that many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected. No matter which alternate is selected, ODOT is committed to work with the City of OKC for resolution of these issues.

Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. Hopefully we will learn more information soon. As of last week, ODOT has yet to officially choose which option will be built.
Guest 11:11 a.m. With all of these towers possibly going in downtown, do you think the city will have to review their preconceptions about the street car, regional rail, and other transit improvements?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. I'm sitting here trying to figure out what you mean with this question. Is the assumption that city officials are biased against rail transit? Or that they don't understand how it can play into building a downtown? I don't think there is a way to answer this, simply because some folks at City Hall are pro public transit and rail transit, while others are not. It's not a collective policy or thought here...
Guest 11:15 a.m. Hope you've been able to do more walking around downtown. What's the worst/most embarrassing missing gap in the sidewalk network in downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. Yes, I've been walking a lot more. And yes, I'm seeing a lot more. I'm not sure there is one most embarrassing missing gap of sidewalk. Some areas, however, are in very bad shape. I'm more concerned about the lack of lighting in parts of Midtown, Bricktown and Deep Deuce. I wonder if the surplus vintage lighting pulled from redone Project 180 streets can't be added to the Farmers Market area, where there is no street lighting and that basic improvement could really make a difference. I walk along NE 2 east of Walnut Avenue and I see a very pedestrian area with no benches.
sdw 11:18 a.m. Steve, has the relocation of I-40 through downtown yeilded the results that we expected? has it encouraged development? From a city planning standpoint, what is the next major project? thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. I'd say it's too early to say yet. Obviously the next big developments in the area known as Core to Shore will be the MAPS 3 park and the convention center.
Doctor Taco 11:19 a.m. Good morning Steve! Thanks for everything! What is the best item on the Beatnix menu?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Oh gosh. Today Sandra is cooking up her special chili relleno, which almost always sells out (she's making me a healthy version of it). Her Mexican hot dogs are crazy good. My go to favorite healthy item is her turkey chili.
Guest 11:22 a.m. Most absurd situation you've ever run into as a journo? What made you burst out laughing because something you saw/something someone said was so ridiculous?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. There are too many journalist "war" stories for me to even begin to adequately answer this story. But yeah, there are quite a few things I've seen and heard over 24 years that made me laugh... a guy speaking at a city council who acted like he was an expert on city government, and after talking for 15 minutes, he paused, looked at the council, and asked "where's Beverly?" in regards to a former councilwoman who had left the city council four years earlier. Another time I encountered a county commissioner who started jumping up and down, banging his fist on the table, demanding to know what my "agenda" was. My agenda was to get him to answer my questions about his financial relationship with a developer. These questions by myself and fellow reporter Bryan Dean led to charges of campaign finance violations.
Misty 11:27 a.m. When do you think Dowell will have an announcement on his residential Tower? And what is he doing with the Dowell Tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. One caveat: when Dowell first started talking about this project, he was looking at a 10- to 15-story tower. When I checked with him a few weeks ago, I didn't ask if the height had changed. I'm hearing it will now be only a few stories high. As for Dowell Center, he is awaiting completion of the Parkside building and Kerr Park by SandRidge Energy before finishing the building.
TN86 11:29 a.m. Steve, I have read this chat for as long as I can remember but rarely submit questions. I have found that this is a good sounding board for concerned citizens. So here is my concern. We just spent millions, hundreds of millions on our new 4-5 mile section if I-40. I think it is maybe a year old + or -. Not only is the decorative concrete work some of the worst quality craftsmanship I have ever seen, but the highway is already falling apart, and leave it to whoever around here fixes things to start patching it with ashpalt. The Eastbound on-ramp from Penn is a huge pit of ashpalt. The decorative concrete work is crumbling, etc. It is frustrating because these are our tax dollars, and apparently we just accept poor quality. I am all for anything beautification, and am happy to spend extra money on it, but not if it turns out like I-40 did. Tulsa (I-44) and Dallas (hiway 75 near downtown) are comparable as far as being decorative, but are much better quality...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Yeah, I hear you. Not sure what else I can add to this.
Guest 11:31 a.m. You've done a lot of work covering Emerson. What other topics/stories are you particularly proud that you've covered, and which perhaps wouldn't have been picked up by the media otherwise. Sleazy, lying politicians and developers doesn't count for this question. Real life stories of real people does.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. I like connecting readers to the community, and to each other. I enjoy helping them understand our city's history, and helping them use that to further make Oklahoma City a community we love, warts and all. I enjoy covering our city's development, its growth, and how it's really all about creating community and bringing people together. To go any further answering this would be to brag on myself - and that's not something I want to do. But yeah, tell stories of real people - I enjoy that a whole lot more. And I rely on all of you to keep me connected to what's going on in the real world.
Misty 11:34 a.m. Are there any surprises that are not tower related that you are excited about that we will hear about in 2014?
Misty 11:35 a.m. When will the boulevard plans be known?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. I suspect we will hear an update soon.
Guest 11:36 a.m. Longest delay or largest screw up to a City project that can be clearly attributed to low staffing levels and/or experience?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. Initial implementation of Project 180 is on the top of my list. I questioned from the start the 2014 "deadline" imposed on the program, one that prompted almost unmanageable bid packages. I was assured from the start the deadline had to be met due to the Tax Increment Finance agreement with Devon Energy and that it could be met. But folks I talked to at Devon always said their main concern was that roads immediately adjacent to their campus be completed quickly - not the entire Project 180 area. So here it is, 2014, and there are still major phases of Project 180 not started yet (including Park Avenue) and likely won't begin until next year. And the sky is not falling because the 2014 deadline was met. I also continue question how the city ended up with such a terrible paint job on the crosswalks that it is now having to pay again to have it redone.
Jay 11:41 a.m. Do you feel like the absence of big name chain retail in downtown OKC is a hindrance to economic development or an opportunity for smaller local businesses to thrive?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Everyone gets excited over national name retailers. But quite honestly, I think it's far better that we have Plenty Mercantile and a Rawide than a Pier One Imports.
Guest 11:42 a.m. This week I walked around the Film Exchange building. I did not realize what a great building it is. How many buildings did we raze during the Urban Renewal period? Yet, we just allowed SandRidge to raze several buildings so it could plant shrubs. Now we are going to let Hargraves raze another beautiful historic building to plant more shrubs?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Several hundred buildings were torn down during the 1970s Urban Renewal era. And yeah, it looks like the Film Exchange building will be torn down.
Guest 11:43 a.m. Can we please have more downtown housing? Would putting a petition together help?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. We have hundreds of apartments being built downtown. As for "for-sale"housing.... more such housing is being built in Deep Deuce. But as for other housing - housing that will cost less than $200,000 - that's more tricky.
Misty 11:46 a.m. What does the Arts Council plan on doing with their land? They have so much land but no real plans? It would be great mixed use and would be cool to have artists living there as well as their studios close underneath.....
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. The property does not belong to the Arts Council of Oklahoma City - it belongs to the city. And it is being offered for redevelopment by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority.
Guest 11:48 a.m. Can we drop by and see you in the newsroom when you move downtown? Bring you tips and stories, etc.?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. I hope so!
BigDaddy 11:48 a.m. What is a better situation in your mind, Big name TopGolf coming to OKC, or a local group builds an independent local competitor to TopGolf?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. I don't know.
Guest 11:48 a.m. Automobile Alley, Bricktown, and Film Row all have vast dead zones of "surface parking". Is there something about city regulations that favors surface parking over development downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. Yes. The business improvement district actually accesses less for surface parking compared to built up properties. In Tulsa, this scenario actually led to a property owner tearing down a historic cool old property and replacing it with a surface parking lot.
Misty 11:50 a.m. What do you think of the narrow strip of land between Classen and Western from 13th to Reno? Seems to have some cool buildings, but no real focus?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. I agree with you. And I think this area will come back to life in response to development of the 21c Museum Hotel at the nearby Fred Jones assembly plan.
Guest 11:51 a.m. If we can't even figure out whose responsibility it is to maintain the tunnels, what are the chances that we'll ever be able to extend and improve them?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. They were improved by the business improvement district. I don't see a scenario in which they ever get extended.
Misty 11:52 a.m. Does the OUHSC plan have it growing south or east? So much land to the south....
Steve Lackmeyer 11:53 a.m. I recently received a master plan for the area and plan to write it up soon.
Kevin 11:53 a.m. What is next for the plaza district? Where does it expand to?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:54 a.m. Classen-10-Penn is a distressed neighborhood with a lot of great old homes. Younger people are buying into the area, homes are getting renovated and repaired. So it's possible we may see a great connection between the two.
Kevin 11:54 a.m. What would you most like to see added to bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. A visitor/history center on the barren plaza of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark could do wonders for the city and its tourism market.
Stewart 11:56 a.m. Good morning, Steve. I work on Automobile Alley and I love all of the development going on here, but I’m concerned about the heavy vehicle traffic and safety of pedestrians trying to cross the street. When they added the angled parking spaces and removed the center turn lane, an unintended consequence is that crossing Broadway is now much more dangerous, as you can no longer cross halfway when its clear in one direction and resume when it clears in the other. It seems like they really need to lower the speed limit and either add flashing crosswalk markers at each intersection (especially at 7th, 8th and 9th where there are no traffic lights) or add the center turn lane back and reduce the traffic flow to one lane in each direction. Do you know if there are any plans to address this and make Broadway safer for pedestrians to cross?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. I wonder if the answer is to add a couple of four-way stops.
Misty 11:56 a.m. Which tower prospect has you the most excited?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. The one at Main and Hudson.
Guest 11:57 a.m. Are the spaces on the west side of Devon's parking garage real retail spaces? If so, why has no one leased any of them?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. They are not real retail spaces, though they could be converted into retail spaces. Devon Energy did not want those storefronts - they were added at the insistence of the Downtown Design Review Committee.
BethanySooner 11:58 a.m. Steve, could you have your tech person remind you to post ODOT's federal funding stipulations regarding the new boulevard/expressway on your blog? I know you have a hundred things going on, so I don't mean to sound critical, but it is my 3rd time to ask.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. Bethany, if you're talking about my email with ODOT, it is now posted in this chat. Please forgive me for the delays.
Kevin 11:58 a.m. What are the projected opening dates for dust bowl and Fassler Hall? Is there anything else new and exciting for midtown soon to be announced?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. I believe it is set to open later this year. Expect to hear more housing and retail announced for Midtown.
Guest 11:59 a.m. What do you think of Ryan Vivar? Has he helped you?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Ryan Vivar is my trainer. He has a gym on the ground floor of the Avana (formerly Legacy) apartments on Walker Avenue. I'm thrilled with Ryan, he's very level headed and very professional. And with his help, I've lost 82 pounds since January. Sometimes you may see him walking with me in Midtown.
Kevin 12:01 p.m. With all the recent articles, stories, and documentaries stating the okc renaissance, why does, from what I hear, Oklahoma City still have a bad reputation according to outsiders? I think OKC is great but others still do not. It's puzzling
Steve Lackmeyer 12:07 p.m. Yeah. Part of it is the whole "fly-over" country condescension that afflicts every state between California and New York (with notable exceptions of Colorado and Atlanta). I moved to Oklahoma City from New York with my family in 1977. I still have family ties to New York. The way of thinking about things is just different on the two coasts, which enjoy a dominant influence on perceptions and media. It is, shall I say, what it is. Comments by politicians like Sally Kern may play well with some locals, but definitely do not help the city's image in the national media or with businesses looking at whether to relocate to Oklahoma City. I'm not saying people like Kern are right or wrong. But in the perception game, it's not helping.
Misty 12:07 p.m. Have you heard what stores and restaurants will be going in on the ground floor of the Edge?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:08 p.m. A pending deal could bring some retail that I suspect will be very popular with Midtown residents.
BethanySooner 12:08 p.m. You mentioned in your tower article earlier in the week that Rick Dowell had a residential tower in his future plans. I would assume this would come after the Dowell Center is complete. Do you know when this building might be coming online for office tenants?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:08 p.m. Nope. Dowell goes on his own timetable.
Guest 12:08 p.m. 6 possible mid to high rises for or fair city? That's so exciting! What's the timeline?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. We should know about most or all of them within the next five years, some much sooner.
Gary T 12:09 p.m. More of a personal question Steve: how is the working out going? I see you checking in all the time on twitter and am glad you are doing your best to get in shape. What has been the toughest thing for you?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. Finding healthy items to eat at locally owned restaurants. I had a meeting at the new Chiltepes in the Plaza District - a meeting place insisted on the person I was seeing. I struggled greatly to find a healthy item on the menu. I don't like eating at chain restaurants, yet they are the ones that tend to provide more healthy options. I appreciate help I've received from Beatnix, Good Egg Dining, Yucatan Taco Stand and Texadelphia in coming up with healthy choices. Sandra at Beatnix has gone out of her way to create new dishes for me.
BethanySooner 12:13 p.m. In March of 2012 Mark Beffort announced that a new tower was going to be built for an international company. Obviously that tower never got off the ground. Did that company go a different direction or are they still planning to locate here?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:14 p.m. OK. As I recall, he talked of a new tower, and he talked about an international company locating downtown. Those were two different deals - one turned out to be the Stage Center development with OGE Energy Corp. The other was GE Oil and Gas Global Research Center.
BethanySooner 12:15 p.m. Are there still talks of a company locating downtown that would diversify the local economy? Is this an out of state business?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. Yes to the first, can't help you on the second question.
BethanySooner 12:16 p.m. Do you know when construction will start for the Civic Center Flats and the 700 West apartments? Are there any other large residential developments planned for this area?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:16 p.m. Probably early next year.
guest 12:16 p.m. Steve; as a friend to some urban developers. I have overheard their disdain for the idea that the observers should demand constant updates. Re development especially in urban infill is a hard process with many entities involved and it is frankly not everyone's business. I tend to agree but you are welcome to tell me otherwise.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:23 p.m. I'm not arguing with you. Development is a complicated process, and sometimes things need to happen behind the scenes, away from the public's eye. I try to balance readers' interests with an understanding that developers have their own interests and concerns. So sometimes, yes, I hold back a story that may not be "ready for prime time" or simply could get mucked up if I did a report. I will confess, now, that there was a story I held back for two weeks about financing for the redevelopment of the Skirvin that if it had printed earlier could have killed the project (and it likely would be standing empty today). My readers' interests come first. But I often have moments where I have to ask myself - can I still serve my readers and yet not do unnecessary harm to my community by doing so? This is the stuff they don't teach in journalism school. I'd like to think most readers will agree with my choice on the Skirvin story and that editors reading this response will be understanding (if not surprised by me admitting to it).
Rod 12:24 p.m. Your recent article in the paper about the possible towers being built was great. Which ones have the best chance of being built and the time tables?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:24 p.m. List the tower at Main and Huson as your next "mystery tower".
George 12:24 p.m. Steve what is the construction time line on the two new asian restaurants that are planned for 23rd street? I cannot remember their names right now but know they were both cool concepts with at least one of them having a roof top bar
Steve Lackmeyer 12:24 p.m. Let me do an update on that this next week.
Kevin 12:25 p.m. When will we see some movement on the street car? Talk of it has died over the past few weeks it seems
Steve Lackmeyer 12:26 p.m. Things are about to move pretty quickly. My understanding is that the city is about to seek out a streetcar vendor. The timetable calls for a first phase opening in late 2017. In MAPS language, that means by summer 2018.
David 12:26 p.m. If a resident of OKC was to move away today and move back in 20 years, do you think they would recognize our city when they return?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:29 p.m. Yes and no. They would certainly recognize Devon Tower and First National tower. But the entries in and out of downtown will be vastly different. The new I-40 will likely have quite a bit of development between Western Avenue and I-235. The river will be amazing. Capitol Hill will be an amazing Hispanic twist on "old town" style district development. And any trace of a gap between Oklahoma City and Yukon, El Reno, Norman and Guthrie will disappear, creating an impressive metropolis.
Mark 12:29 p.m. Steve is anyone besides Clayco gonna go for the block south of the stage center? I get the feeling a lot is going on over there behind the scenes.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:30 p.m. Yes.
David 12:30 p.m. What, if anything, is happening with the Native American Cultural Center? Is there any hope that it will be completed?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:30 p.m. Does anyone have faith in the Legislature moving this project forward?
David 12:30 p.m. with the white water facility coming in over budget, what are the likely features/attractions to be abandoned/modified? Has the city thought to call upon corporate donors to make up the short fall?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:32 p.m. Yes, the grandstands and windscreens are now a question mark. But MAPS 3 revenues are coming in over target. Corporate sponsors can be enlisted. And who is to say the screens could not be used for advertisements controlled by the Boathouse Foundation?
Happy 12:33 p.m. A few months back there was buzz about a huge food truck fest hosted by Kevin Durant at the OKC Airpark at the end of summer. Is that still planned? If so when will it be?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:33 p.m. The Skyline Food Truck Festival at the Downtown Airpark on Western Avenue just south of the Oklahoma River is tomorrow. You can get more information here: http://www.skylinefoodfest....
Doctor Taco 12:34 p.m. Am I naive, or do I feel a sense of optimism about OKCPS? Between the new community school at Edgemere, the new superintendent, John Rex opening to fanfare, etc. it feels like change is in the air. It seems like Lopez might have altered the course of the district, and now Neu looks to continue the course correction (but, like turning an aircraft carrier, real change will take time). Have you felt this too, or is all just empty talk and misguided optimism?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:34 p.m. Momentum is good. Let's see what happens next.
Mark 12:34 p.m. Is there any retail planned for the bottom floor of maywood II?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:34 p.m. Yes, restaurants will face Walnut Avenue.
Kevin 12:35 p.m. Steve, if you read the most recent best of OKC, which ranking do you most disagree with?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:36 p.m. The "gang infested" ranking by an obscure click bait site was totally off-base, not backed by the numbers, and pretty much ripped apart by Oklahoman writer Jonathan Sutton. Read his analysis here:
Sooner than Later 12:37 p.m. Any word on bids that were submitted for the "Deep Deuce Dream Home" that was on the market? Did they receive any and do you know for what amount?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:38 p.m. I have been told by broker Andy Burnett that Bob Meinders submitted the winning deal and has a contract to buy the Clark Building on NE 2.
George 12:38 p.m. Steve have you been on a tour of the inside of John Rex? Looks great from the outside!
Steve Lackmeyer 12:38 p.m. I want to do this very soon!
George 12:39 p.m. Steve what is the time line for the construction of the santa fe intermodal hub? Also did the new i40 contraction take out all of the old rail lines that ran close to the airport? A direct street car line from will rodgers to the hub would be very, very convenient
Steve Lackmeyer 12:39 p.m. Yeah, I don't know if I can accurately answer this at this time. Let me ask around about this.
George 12:39 p.m. Also I heard there was a waiting line for all grades at a John Rex. because of this success where would you put a downtown middle school and/or high school? Do you think the city would ever consider building such facilities in the first place?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:41 p.m. A middle school and/or a high school could do a lot of good in Core to Shore. But I'm not sure Oklahoma City Public Schools would welcome such an expansion.
George 12:41 p.m. Steve why has work stopped on the grain silo mural?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:42 p.m. I was just talking to someone about this question earlier this week. The answer is complicated and possibly controversial. We may still see a mural go up. But it's not a pretty process behind the scenes. Let's just leave it at that and I'll try to get an update together.
guest 12:42 p.m. Steve, Could you tell us who at City Hall are pro public transit and who aren't?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:43 p.m. I don't know of anyone of consequence at City Hall who is "anti" public transit.
George 12:43 p.m. Steve beyond taking down the old microwave receivers on the roof do you think ATT would ever consider doing something with that huge brick wall facing auto alley? Even a giant ad for ATT would look better that its current state.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:43 p.m. I don't know. But I can ask AT&T.
Amaury 12:43 p.m. Hello, any plans to link Oklahoma Av between bricktwown and the deep deuce ? At least with a walkway. It is crazy how poor is the connection between DD and BT. So close yet so far.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:43 p.m. Yeah, so many people want it. But the rail lines are an issue.
Misty 12:44 p.m. Who planned the Classen/1-44/51st street mess? Was that the city or ODOT? That area is impossible to drive, so it encourages pedestrians to walk, unfortunately trucks come off the highway there going 60. This is a death waiting to happen. My girl Ericka and I were crossing last week and she is in a boot from her ankle surgery. She almost was taken out if it weren't for a guy picking her up and saving the day.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:44 p.m. Yeah, that intersection was built to replace the old Classen Circle, which also was loathed by many. I suspect a modern traffic circle designed for pedestrians could be an improvement. But I doubt we will see that happen.
George 12:45 p.m. When is the next jim couch chat?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:45 p.m. Next month!
George 12:45 p.m. Steve what happened with John Williams and the whole Vast/Colcord fiasco? Can you give us any insider info on this? Does he still plan to stay in okc?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:49 p.m. A couple of observations: Vast and Flint were opened within a couple of months of each other and they were overseen by two very talented and smart people. You had a corporation that was settling into a new role as the major corporate anchor for downtown Oklahoma City and owner of the hotel and restaurants. You have a mix of people who have different ideas about what they want to see in these restaurants. You have a population that comes in with its own expectation especially in regard to Vast. I am not sure anyone could have smoothly launched Vast in such circumstances. The Colcord is a good operation. Flint generally enjoys good reviews, though many people I speak to say the elaborate patio has not been promoted and used as well as it could have been. And Vast? Well, there's a lot of confusion out there. Let's just leave at that and wish the new crew the best of luck in making it the pride of Oklahoma.
George 12:50 p.m. What are your thoughts on the new main street garage? I was hesitant at first but think its gonna be great in the end. Do you know if it will light up at night?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:50 p.m. I like it. I can't wait to see it lit up at night!
George 12:50 p.m. also in your article on tuesday you said we all might be pleasantly surprised with the height of the OGE tower. What do you know that made you say that? Throw us a bone here!
Steve Lackmeyer 12:50 p.m. I'm hearing it may be higher. Let's just leave it at that.
Guest 12:51 p.m. Are you still planning on hosting a walking tour of the different districts downtown? I would be interested in one if you did one through the CBD and discussed where things used to be, and what is there now and why. Also history of myriad gardens would be cool too.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:51 p.m. Yep. That is on my autumn "bucket list".
Cindy 12:51 p.m. Steve, to put it mildly the Dowell garage is really, really ugly. A). How did this pass DDRC and B). If he were to build apartments do you think he would try and build the cheapest most basic looking building possible? He needs to wake up and realize this is not the okc of the early 90s.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:52 p.m. So you're telling me you do not like Dowell's taste in architecture.
david ball 12:52 p.m. do you have any outside projects you are working on now, like your prior books?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:53 p.m. Yes. I'm building a new me.
Brian 12:53 p.m. Hi Steve. Due to the warm weather, I have been running after the sun goes down. This week I decided to go the Chesapeake boathouse and run the path along the river. I must say that I am SHOCKED that there is no lighting there and both myself and my friend did not feel safe running there at 9:00 PM. The path goes under bridges with plenty of dark places to hide. I am just amazed that there is no lighting there... Do you know if there is any plan to properly light that area so it can be enjoyed in the evening?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:53 p.m. That's a good question for Mike Knopp with the Boathouse Foundation. Maybe I can get him booked as a future live chat guest.
George 12:53 p.m. Steve where does Mr. Cotter live? Is he ever in town and do you think he would sell the Chase tower ever? Seems like a lot of problems that building is having can be directly traced back to him
Steve Lackmeyer 12:53 p.m. Texas. Not often. Maybe. Yes, that is what I hear.
Kim 12:54 p.m. Steve, reading your story about The Rise last week and reading the dialogue on the OKC Talk site. I feel like the main point of the retropub's frustration was missed, the retropud people seem to be upset about the lack of communication more so then the missed deadlines. To me it appears like the Landrun people kept wanting to talk about this is an "old building" more so then, why there was a lack of communication with specific tenants. The question has to be asked if Landrun got in over their heads with The Rise and lack of experience is such projects.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:55 p.m. Yes, and I relayed that in the story. The problem is we have a failure to communicate... the two sides can't agree on whether communication took place. All I can do is relay both sides of the story.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:56 p.m. Even with communication, Flashback RetroPub was still put in a really bad position by the delays. I doubt there was going to be any good ending to this.
George 12:56 p.m. Did your mom ever get to read your twitter?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:56 p.m. Nope. Thank goodness. Though she does read the live chats religiously. Hi Mom! Happy Birthday.
Ed 12:57 p.m. Hi Steve, OKC has a wonderful array of dining choices, but... Nearly every city I've ever lived in (all east of the Mississippi) has had a close approximation of a New York delicatessen. I'm not talking Subway or JImmy Johns, but a real deli. I've looked are out the city for one without any luck. Am I missing something?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:57 p.m. Yeah. It needs to be a Jewish deli like the ones in New York.
Kim 12:57 p.m. Did Mr. Russell give you an updated completion date during your last visit with them?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:57 p.m. Kinda. It looks like, hopefully, completion this winter.
George 12:58 p.m. Why do Catholics not understand that by making such a big deal of the black mass all they are doing is giving them essentially free publicity? which is probably exactly what they want?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:58 p.m. Because they are offended by this performance.
Misty 12:59 p.m. Are there any surprises that are not tower related that you are excited about that we will hear about in 2014?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:59 p.m. Some cool things are set to happen for the Plaza District, Uptown and Bricktown.
George 12:59 p.m. What is going into the old prosthetic building across from The Garage in midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:00 p.m. I believe the ugly blue awning will be removed, the original facade will be restored, and it will be home to a law office.
George 1:00 p.m. How is native roots doing? People keep asking about a dt grocery store and they forget that they are there.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:01 p.m. Native Roots is doing OK. But they could do better. People, use it or lose it.
david ball 1:01 p.m. how can we get your bosses to understand how important these chats are to us? do they exhaust you?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:02 p.m. I think they know these chats are enjoyed. You can contact my editor Don Mecoy, to let him know you like these chats, or to let him know I'm off my rocker and should be muzzled, by emailing him at
Kim 1:02 p.m. Do you have a list of the remaining retailers that will be in The Rise once it is completed?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:02 p.m. I can get that.
Kim 1:02 p.m. What are the people at Fedora saying about why they moved out of The Rise? Was it because of delays? Lack of communication? Other?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:03 p.m. I wasn't able to talk to the Fedora folks, but my understanding is their move was prompted by delays and design challenges.
Ryan 1:03 p.m. What are your thoughts on Robert Neu's plan presented to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber on Wednesday for OKCPS? What role does the success and improvement of OKCPS play in the long term success of OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:03 p.m. I wasn't at the presentation. But he seems to be a sharp guy with a lot of vision.
Kim 1:04 p.m. What other properties in the Uptown District do you see as the next major development area?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:04 p.m. The old car wash and empty lot at Robinson Avenue.
Anthony 1:04 p.m. What is up with that surface parking lot just to the west of tapwerks? I don't think I have ever seen a car in that lot. It looks like wasted space in a high demand area. Thanks Steve.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:04 p.m. Yeah! That should be developed!
TN86 1:04 p.m. Now that we have discussed several topics of infrastructure shortcomings (I-40 quality and paint markings on downtown streets), I would like to add another (I am sure it has already been discussed at some point in time).
TN86 1:04 p.m. Devon gave a ton of money to the city to beautify streets downtown, which included tons of landscaping. How could the city sit on their hands while alot of this landscaping is dead/dying and weeds are overtaking those areas? Most cities would kill to have that much landscaping donated, and we just let it die.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:06 p.m. The city and Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. are aware of this problem and are trying to address it. This problem arises from the transfer of responsibility from the contractors to the city and Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. I suspect it will be resolved.
Guest 1:06 p.m. I live and work downtown and I am not a fan of the tunnels. All those shops should be on the surface, to improve the street life. I avoid the tunnels unless there is a tornado.
Guest 1:06 p.m. If I send you an email, will you respond? I'd like your advice/insight about possibly joining up with Ryan Vivar to make some lifestyle changes.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:07 p.m. Sure, but my best suggestion is to contact him directly.
Guest 1:07 p.m. What needs to be done to hook up the tunnel to the art museum?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:07 p.m. Money and the museum wanting it to happen.
Guest 1:07 p.m. Out of all the towers everyone is speaking about, can you give us a list of completion order and a guestimate on the height/number of floors for each building?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:08 p.m. No, I'm not ready to do that yet. I learned from the last "mystery tower" discussion that things change when deals aren't done and I do a disservice by creating what can be false expectations.
Wes 1:08 p.m. As someone who. two years ago, was 520 lbs and today is at 261, YOU ROCK!! Proud of you, Steve!!!
Steve Lackmeyer 1:09 p.m. Email me. I could use your insight and advice.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:09 p.m.
Guest 1:09 p.m. What's the latest on that exceedingly lame Chase drive thru proposal?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:09 p.m. I'll have an update on that for tomorrow.
Guest 1:10 p.m. To guest: as a citizen of the city that pays for many of the entities the developers need to work through, I have every right to ask about updates. They're using my tax dollars most of the time so they can deal with the questions about updates.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:10 p.m. Yes, that is another take on the back-and-forth that goes on over reporting updates on developments. And it is a major consideration I take seriously in my reporting.
Guest 1:10 p.m. The fact that the City has agreed to pay for the repaint on Project 180 is asinine. Why are they allowing the contractor to skate on this?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:11 p.m. Good question.
Guest 1:11 p.m. Does OKC still have Empowerment Zone designations and if so, have you looked into its effectiveness in spurring development/job creation in OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:11 p.m. I think those expired, and from what I saw, they were greatly ineffective.
Guest 1:11 p.m. About OKC's national image, many times it can take years for a city's national perception to catch up with reality. The national image of OKC was pretty much reality 15 years ago. Cities like Portland and Austin, which are currently loved in the media, had their starts way before they started getting the media attention. OKC's time will come, but a lot of it also depends on the politics. OKC politicians have a knack for saying outrageous things that get national attention and set OKC's perception back. It's a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing.
David 1:12 p.m. Have you ever heard any of your sources (city, developers, business leaders) express concern about the lack of diversity in our local economy? If the federal government were to significantly scale back its military spending (possible) or if new technology allows society to transition from fossil fuels, OKC is in deep trouble. I would hope there is some discussion amongst these groups about how OKC will position itself for the future.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:12 p.m. Yes, it's always in the mix. And that is why there is so much attention on bio-science, aviation and tourism.
Uptowner 1:12 p.m. How long until development occurs around the area of the plannned C2S park? I'm wanting the south side of the arena to look better
Steve Lackmeyer 1:13 p.m. We will probably see some development within five years. But it will likely look nothing like what was projected in the Core to Shore study from 2006, which I never, ever understood from the very start of it.
Uptowner 1:13 p.m. What's the best way to get the city to look at a 3 lane option for 23rd street and getting rid of that center median and putting in angled parking?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:13 p.m. Call your council member. Participate in discussions hosted by the Uptown Association.
Ed 1:14 p.m. Marathon Chat! Nice!
Guest 1:14 p.m. Wow. Are you ever going to stop today?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:14 p.m. Yeah, I'm getting tired. I'm trying to make up for skipping last week. But I'm realizing we're about to hit three hours. There are at least two dozen questions I've yet to answer.
Gary T 1:15 p.m. Steve, I know I don't say it enough but I really appreciate these chats and how it informs us all. Not sure what my Friday would look like without them.
Guest 1:15 p.m. Thank you for sharing your passion and excitement for OKC Steve! What are some ways that the rest of us who are also enthusiastic about what's going on in the city can help? I know there's the "Friends of the Plaza" and "Urban Neighbors" but are there other groups we can get involved in?
Steve Lackmeyer 1:16 p.m. My best of: Urban Land Institute, Urban Neighbors, Friends of the Plaza, Better Block OKC.
Steve Lackmeyer 1:17 p.m. OK folks, that's it. Today we had 568 readers, a very busy OKC Live Chat . I received 173 comments and questions, and answered as many as I could. Have a great weekend!
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...
+ show more


  1. 1
    Oregon pot stores sell more than $11 million in first 5 days
  2. 2
    Sigourney Weaver turns 66: Then and now
  3. 3
    Not Sucking in Their Seventies: Rock Lifers Go the Distance
  4. 4
    Explosions rock north Tulsa residential area
  5. 5
    Claremore hospital fires doctor who authorities say threatened officer after DUI arrest
+ show more


× Trending business Article