OKC Central Chat transcript, Dec. 6, 2013

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: December 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm •  Published: December 6, 2013
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 9:15 a.m. Good morning. Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.

Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Nick 9:59 a.m. When do you think OKC is going to get to unwrap these other Christmas gifts? This Sunday?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. Over the next couple weeks.
Nick 10:00 a.m. What are the Heritage Trust's plans for the Journal Record building? Do you think this project actually happens?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Heritage Trust would be one of the anchor tenants. They will have space for lease as well. With the loss of federal funding, it appears that the one tenant in the space, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, will likely cease to exist in the near future. The approval of tax increment financing on Thursday makes this project a go. The behind the scenes back and forth this past year involved the sales price. This deal was in danger of collapse a couple of times, but those issues were worked out and yes, it is by all appearances moving forward. The garage is also very likely to be built as well.
Angad 10:04 a.m. Morning, Steve. Here's your weekly puppy gif:
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Thank you.
Guest 10:04 a.m. Are plans developing for Villa Theresa's campus? I'm hearing some rumors things may have started to come together. Are you hearing any of the chatter as well?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m.
Pat 10:06 a.m. Good Morning Steve, How long will it take to realize the significance of the new GE Global Research Center? If this is the tip of the iceberg, what developments will the iceberg entail? Thanks You
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. GE brings a whole new game to town. I am told this research center will draw people from around the world. The thing to realize is that with this sort of operation, it's potential is beyond an average person's understanding or imagination, because it involves new technologies and innovations that will constantly evolve. And have no doubt, with a company like GE setting up this operation in Oklahoma City, other companies will want to set up shop nearby. As I've said before, this isn't simply about the number of jobs. It's about quality of jobs. If Oklahoma City were given the choice between a 1,000-person call center or a 150-employee GE Global Research Center, it would be crazy not to go for GE. Also consider that this operation will likely spur further redevelopment along 10th street both east and west of I-235. Architecturally, and symbolically, this building will stand out far more than your average six-story building.
Nick 10:12 a.m. It looks like there was some soil testing going on at the Bank of America drive through off Hudson Ave. downtown. Do you know if there are plans for this property?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. Soil testing usually indicates someone is planning on doing some significant future construction.
Guest 10:13 a.m. Does AT&T own the Pioneer Building (the one downtown with the hideous dish setup on top)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Let's first take a look at the building, shall we?
10:16 a.m.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. When I look at this building in its original format, I see a pretty interesting merger of two historic buildings built in different eras. I like it. The street front is engaged with a lot of storefront windows. The architecture is not subtle.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Now let's look at it now.
10:24 a.m.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. It sticks out, doesn't it? It's in almost every prominent view of the downtown skyline, including the latest rendering (which I've cropped) of the new GE research center.
10:25 a.m.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. I checked with representatives of AT&T several years ago. The equipment is all obsolete. It's junk from another era. I've been told by multiple sources that the cost of removing this junk is $150,000 - an expenditure the company has so far not shown an interest in spending to show a bit more pride in their part of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline. So yes, by all accounts, we have a historic building with junk on the roof.
Eddie 10:28 a.m. hey steve! been hearing a lot of things about the downtown development project. I'm all for improving the city, but is there really a need for another hotel? what are the long term projections on this investment? And a parking garage that is only partially available to the public? What is up with that? (My grandbaby helped me come up with this question. She studies business and journalism in college. Need an assistant? She would be great. Always helping me out and everything.)
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. I'm assuming that you're talking about the 21c Museum Hotel planned for the Fred Jones assembly plant. Occupancy at downtown hotels is reportedly averaging a very healthy 75 percent, and demand is continuing to grow with increases in tourism and corporate travel. The concept of the museum hotel itself makes it a destination, and not just another choice of lodging. As for the garage planned with the Journal Record building, this is actually pretty standard.
parker 10:30 a.m. Do you agree with the chosen streetcar route? What would you have done differently?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. I don't think it's possible to come up with a perfect streetcar route. But the one chosen seems to be a good start. I think a lot of questions remain about whether a duel track, where tracks run parallel to each other on the same path, or couplets, in which a north bound track is on one street and the southbound track is on another street, is the right choice. Critics argue that the consultants on the project are very biased toward the couplets and have not allowed for an honest evaluation of the two options (proponents, of course, disagree with this criticism). I think it's very likely we will see future extensions to the health sciences area east of downtown and to Capitol Hill south of downtown.
Pat 10:34 a.m. Hey Steve... do you think traffic in downtown will increase due to the construction on the GE center? I work right by University Park and hope it wont add too much time to my commute
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. Nah, you should be fine.
Guest 10:34 a.m. When is the Metropolitan supposed to start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. As I recall, this spring.
Guest 10:35 a.m. Is there a tenant lined up for MidtownR's building on the west side of Broadway at 10th?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. I suspect they have some candidates.
Guest 10:35 a.m. What's the latest on the hotel deal for Chris Johnson's other lot in Bricktown? Anything new?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. When I last checked, he was in active discussions with potential developers.
parker 10:36 a.m. The Pop Up Shops are a great retail addition to Midtown. Do you know of any permanent retail coming to Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. Yes, but it's too early for me to say anything yet.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. http://ow.ly/i/3WAvH
Studette 10:37 a.m. Good morning, Steve! On OKCTalk, there's a discussion about better connecting the University Research Park with downtown, especially now with the GE research center and the Metropolitan. Can you tell us if city leaders are contemplating improving connections between the two areas?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. They've discussed it. It was a concern as part of the upcoming ODOT reconstruction of the 10th Street junction at I-235. I suspect this discussion will intensify with not just GE but also development of the Metropolitan apartments. Don't be surprised if the OG&E substation at NW 10 and Oklahoma Avenue also is relocated.
parker 10:39 a.m. There's a lot of run-down housing just north, east, and south of OUHSC. Realistically, how long until those areas start improving?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. It's happening already. Drive through the John F. Kennedy neighborhood along NE 4 and turn left at Bath Avenue. You will see very nice new homes that might make you think you're in Deer Creek if not for the downtown skyline in the background. I've said for a while the neighborhood at 13th and Walnut is ripe for redevelopment, and some urban pioneers have staked their lots.....
parker 10:41 a.m. How is the Paseo District fairing since the passing of John Belt?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. Paseo is doing good. I recently met with John's widow, Joy, and she's getting closer to figuring out how to finish his last unfinished work - the old Spaghetti Factory/Paseo Plunge. Paseo has a great artists community and great local volunteers.
Nick 10:42 a.m. When do you think we'll learn more about MidtownR's plans for their 10th St block?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. It shouldn't be too much longer.
parker 10:43 a.m. Do you think the halfway house between Elemental Coffee and the future home of Studio Architecture will be moving?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Probably at some point.
Guest 10:43 a.m. Do you think Don Karchmer's garage ends up being built in Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. Yes. He has been working on a design that will allow for the railroad right of way to be preserved for future passenger rail expansion. He's also serious about developing housing atop the garage.
BethanySooner 10:44 a.m. Good morning Steve. You mentioned that there would be bigger gifts (plural) than the GE announcement. How many bigger gifts are we talking about, and are these going to all be announced this month?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. At least one. And yes, this month.
BethanySooner 10:45 a.m. What impact will the GE Research Center have on the immediate area they are going to build on, and on the City as a whole?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. I've answered this a bit earlier in the chat. And I'm working on covering it more for tomorrow's paper.
parker 10:47 a.m. So many districts seem to be unified (Plaza, Auto Alley, Paseo) but Midtown doesn't. Is there a Midtown association, or any leadership in place promoting the district as a whole?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. Yes, Midtown has an association and they're actually far more active than people might realize. The difference is that Midtown is more focused on organizational needs for the district and building foundations right now rather than marketing, etc. Give it time - it's a work in progress.
Guest 10:48 a.m. Did Amazon decide to go with Owasso over OKC for their new facility?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Here's where we get into a delicate conflict that occurs between myself and local blogs, discussion sites, etc. We play by different rules. No one with Amazon, the city, state, etc., has ever to my knowledge said the company was looking to do a deal with Owasso or Oklahoma City for a distribution center. If a person at a blog, a discussion site, etc., insists they've been told this is the case, then you have to figure out how strong that information is, etc. I can tell you my sources have told me the city was in competition for a distribution center. It appears that deal may not happen. My sources - very good sources - have told me the company was not Amazon. So on one hand, my sources are in synch with what you read elsewhere, but on another, we're hearing very different details. I'm wording this in a way as to not trigger another online debate over my reporting and what's posted on local blogs and discussion boards. But when people ask me these things, I can only answer as honestly as I can.
BethanySooner 10:56 a.m. Since there won't be any new parking added to the Century Center where will the OPUBCO employees be parking there vehicles?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. A couple thousand parking spaces are being built, set to be built throughout downtown and there is set to be some changes in where people park. Century Center, I'm told, already has some available spaces. Surface lots south of the Myriad Gardens might also come into play.
Guest 10:58 a.m. Is OKC going to see a big corporate relocation this month or next?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Maybe....
Eddie 10:59 a.m. You know, when my kids were still in school the principal used to have what she called a "brown bag lunch" day for parents. All the parents were invited to come to the school during their lunch break with their lunch and eat with the principal. It was a time to raise concerns and to just develop a better sense of community. I think we should have one of these days with you Steve. We're such a close group, it would be nice to meet in person and get to know one another. I don't know about these waffles that everyone always talks about, but maybe we should meet for waffles at a waffle house. All this talking has made me hungry for them. Do you think this is possible Steve?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Waffle Houses are pretty small - we'd have to limit it to four people.
Guest 10:59 a.m. Is David Boren upset that OU didn't land the GE facility?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I doubt it. Boren still gets a big win from this deal - this will create opportunities for his students, and it's still next to OU's medical campus.
Lackmeyerfan4life 11:00 a.m. Steve I am a loyal fan of your's forever. You are a good man which is most important. May I ask how you became the man you are today?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. I grew up watching the Brady Bunch?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. Actually, the truth is better than that.... I really grew up watching the Rockford Files. Brady Bunch was secondary.
Drew Smith 11:02 a.m. Steve, I heard TSN talk about NHL expansion. Do you think that OKC could ever get a NHL team?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Is it possible? Sure. But is it likely? Probably not.
RickOKC 11:02 a.m. Good morning, Steve. Thank you for all you do for our city. This question is truly not some kind of veiled attempt to have you comment on the mayoral race; I'm just curious about your philosophy of civic leadership... What would you say are the essential qualities of a good OKC mayor or council member?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. The most successful qualities I've observed over time involve an ongoing effort to communicate and reach out to all council members, regardless of rivalry on hot button issues, caution at not tampering with politics in a council member's ward, tempering public remarks in a way that does not come off as back-biting with council members, forward-looking approaches instead of delving into historical grudges, honesty and transparency in dealing with conflicts, allowing for a good, but not endless discussion of rival ideas, positive relationships when possible with the chamber, business leaders, city employee unions, administrators, and focus that doesn't involve trying to tackle too many issues at once. Not encouraging north vs. south or urban vs. suburban conflict. Most importantly, maintenance of ties with residents throughout our 622-square-mile city. And for all this, one gets the incredible salary of $24,000 a year.
BethanySooner 11:09 a.m. Do you know at this time if the proposed parking garage for the Journal Record Bldg will include retail on the Robinson Ave frontage?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. It did. I'll check to see if that's changed.
Freezing Out Here 11:10 a.m. Can you give us an update on Nichols Hills Plaza and Classen Curve?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Brianna Bailey is keeping up with that story.
Happy Ruth 11:10 a.m. HELLO STEVE!!!:)I have a very festive question in mind for you today:) If you could ask Santa for two gifts- one for yourself and one for Oklahoma City- what would you ask for? My co-worker asked me a similar question the other day, and I thought it was so fantastic! It really got me thinking:)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. My gift: a big raise and a long vacation.
The city's gift: A citywide transit system involving rail and bus rapid transit.
Freezing Out Here 11:12 a.m. Can you give us some specific names of new retail coming to downtown, midtown, etc. that you haven't already told us?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. No. Not at this time.
Gary S 11:12 a.m. Now that we know where GE is going to be located,have you heard anthing more about the Metropolitan? GE has to be a plus for them.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. It's moving forward.
Guest 11:12 a.m. Is Native Roots struggling? If so, is it due to the construction of the Aloft Hotel or is it a poorly situated grocery store that isn't easily accessible to enough customers? Or something else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. The owners tell me they're doing fine.
Freezing Out Here 11:13 a.m. I've heard rumors about Shepherd Mall eventually being rebuilt as multi use similar to what is going on at 13th Street in midtown. Any word on this?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. We'll look into it.
Gary S 11:13 a.m. Any more news on the music venue proposed for the uptown 23rd area?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. Nope.
BethanySooner 11:13 a.m. When the Metropolitan Apartments were first announced, the developers indicated that they hoped to begin construction in January 2014. Do you know if they are on schedule for that date? Even though separated by I235 that will be an incredible visual improvement through that area with the GE Center on the opposite side.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. I'll check.
Nick 11:14 a.m. Steve, can you give a hint about what's involved in the project you're most excited about for OKC? I know you said it was pushed back several months. Is it a company, housing, entertainment venue?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. It's still something that is very possible. But I'm also worried it won't happen. We'll leave it at that.
BethanySooner 11:14 a.m. Still haven't heard anything about the status of the old Film Exchange Bldg on the edge of the new central park. Are you optimistic or pessimistic regarding it's ultimate fate?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. I don't know what to think.
Terry 11:17 a.m. Good morning Steve, Last week you mentioned you were about to write an article about the Gold Dome. When can we expect to read your story? The reason I ask is because that complex which includes not only the Gold Dome but the high-rise Classen apartment tower as well is one of my favorites of all building complexes in OKC.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Soon.
Michael 11:17 a.m. Good morning Steve! So, I can't help but to ask: is everything that has been revealed thus far - 21c Museums, the GE Research Facility, etc. - the side dish or the main course? You keep hinting that 'all has not been revealed'... ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Not sure that's a good analogy. The ride ain't over.
BethanySooner 11:17 a.m. Are you aware of any large businesses, say over 100 employees, who are in the process of relocating downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. Interest is out there.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. The Oklahoman will be moving with about 350 people.
Dan 11:18 a.m. When is the Aloft opening? Their website says end of January, but that they aren't taking reservations until March... Huh?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. Developer Jim Thompson has told me the Aloft opens in January.
Terry 11:18 a.m. What's your favorite building in OKC or even in the whole state of Oklahoma for that matter?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. Tie: Devon Energy Center, the Skirvin and Price Tower.
Happy Ruth 11:19 a.m. Steve, you seem like a well traveled man. Ever been to New York City. I've wanted to go to Rockefeller Center to skate and see the tree since I was a little girl. Have any favorite spots? maybe we can put an ice rink in the middle of our little city:)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. Yes, I've been to New York City extensively, most recently two years ago. New York was my home until 1977. I've been Rockefeller Center for Christmas holidays and it's something everyone should experience at least once. I love the Thunder.
Terry 11:20 a.m. Any idea when we'll see new plans presented to the City Council for the new Core to Shore park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. Soon.
BethanySooner 11:20 a.m. With the current wave of new developments that are to be announced this month, do you see this growth trend continuing, or are we about to slow down soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. Growth is only set to speed up from what I'm seeing.
Ruth 11:20 a.m. I know Von Maur is coming to town, do you know of any other new shops in 2014?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. No. But I'm really staying busy with what's going on downtown right now.
Mark 11:21 a.m. Steve, you keep mentioning on Twitter that that we haven't heard the whole story about GE yet, what more could there be? this is already a great ego boost for okc and should help us market to other large international firms looking around.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. Wait..
Guest 11:21 a.m. Steve, what is your opinion on more low-income/zero-income/section 8 housing being built in our core districts. Some people think it would be an excellent addition to the neighborhoods bringing in more diversity to the urban fabric. Others are concerned it may bring in elements that could drive away the upwardly mobile, jeopardize further gentrification of the core, and may be something we would regret 20 years down the line. From an ethical perspective, I think our core should be open to everyone from all walks of life and there is nobody who "doesn't belong". On the other side of that, I understand the desire to have more upscale areas in OKC, something this city has really lacked for a long time. Whats your perspective?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Some inaccurate information has been put out about a project in Midtown. I'll just leave at that right now.
Gary T 11:22 a.m. Steve, I thought I posted my questions first thing when it was available. Did they not post?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Gary, let me check.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. Oh wow... ok.... they got archived before I even logged in!
Gary T 11:23 a.m. Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you. You said, "the GE deal is a big X-mas gift for OKC, but bigger gifts are yet to get unwrapped." Care to expand on that at all? Hints? Housing? Retail? Stage Center height? Other?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. All of the above.
Gary T 11:23 a.m. I asked you this question on okctalk.com but liked your answer so much, I thought you should share it with our chat friends: I am curious what the 21c people have been told in terms of future development in that area and what is to come to entice them to pick that location. Are there certain things city officials can share with other potential developers as far as future development of areas? For example, can someone say, "We have a developer looking to build 300+ apartments within two blocks of here with ground floor retail, etc"?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. 21c Museum Hotel won't be the only development on the Fred Jones property. And more redevelopment is in the works for the area.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. City officials are very limited in what they can say because they don't want to be seen as hurting any one developer or benefiting another.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. At least not unfairly.
Gary T 11:25 a.m. Once plans for the 21c museum hotel are announced (renderings, start and completion date, etc), what area immediately adjacent to the hotel do you think will be worked on next? I would think the loading bays and other useless buildings to the south would be the first to go as part of a larger development and then the area directly north soon after.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. The area immediately to the north and south will be the next to be developed.
Gary T 11:25 a.m. You said you were tracking something very different for Hotel Black on the Preftakes block, I have been told housing. Can you say if the people developing are local or from out of state? Also, when do you think we could hear an official announcement on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. That's all I can really say right now.
Gary T 11:26 a.m. With the Stage Center tower being built, will we see California reopened between Walker and Hudson or will it remain pedestrian only?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. Not likely.
Gary T 11:26 a.m. What's next for Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. More housing, a coffee shop, more restaurants.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. And a dentist's office....
Steph the Hutt 11:28 a.m. Would allowing gambling and casinos improve the city's economic status?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. Or would it hurt it?
Pat 11:28 a.m. Hi Steve, What's the chances we see two or three high rise towers concurrently under construction on Hudson, in another year or 2 ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. On Hudson? You're trying to trick me....
Brandon 11:28 a.m. You said that soil testing being done by Bank of America drive thru means significant future construction. Can you elaborate or give us a hint?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. It will involve a building.
Sensitive and Important Public Space 11:29 a.m. Any idea on what the street wall for the parking deck on the old YMCA site across from the Memorial and the Journal Record building will look like?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Good question. I don't know yet...
Pat 11:29 a.m. Chat is not quite in sync today....? Hard time sending questions...?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. I need coffee.
Doomed to repeat the past? 11:30 a.m. Earlier this week you mentioned Guy Liebmann's past run for Mayor. Any parallels, differences or lessons we can learn from that?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Plenty. Read the special MAPS 20th Anniversary section in this Sunday's Oklahoman.
shawnw 11:30 a.m. Pioneer: And the street level windows are blocked up, closing a beautiful building off from neighborhood interaction...
Amir 11:30 a.m. What happened to all the hotels planned by Patel for East Bricktown, on the south side of Sheridan Ave?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. An update is needed
Brandon 11:31 a.m. It sounds like UpTown 23rd really needs the slant parking for its future development. Is that a possibility and what would it require out of the community to help make it happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. It's possible. That's the way it was set up until a dozen years ago. But I'm not sure city engineers will like going back to it.
Concerned about the ice and snow 11:31 a.m. Did they let you do this chat from home?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Yes.
Amaury 11:31 a.m. Any ideas where Prodigal would like to build their soccer stadium ? Or do they wait to see which one, of the two soccer teams coming to town, will go out of business first ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. Major league soccer folks seem to dictate downtown stadiums as part of the business formula. So one has to wonder....
Amir 11:32 a.m. It seems like all we hear about downtown is hotels, housing, and more hotels and housing. What about office space?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. Hold on...
Bob 11:32 a.m. Do you thing the announcement of the GE center will cause an acceleration of the second phase of the street car system which will likely connect to the Health Sciences Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. It's possible.
Ronaldo 11:33 a.m. Are there plans for the rest of the land around the GE Complex? They seem to have a pretty compact footprint, and will part of the OSSM be sold to a a company if need be. It would be a great fundraiser for the school and maybe be able to increase scholarships and have more kids in the school.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. No, I think the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics was part of the draw for GE. This might just give OSSM the boost it needs after it saw a stagnation in support from state lawmakers.
Corey 11:34 a.m. Is the MAPS3 Central Park development on hold? Seems like the City should have at least started site prep by now...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. The Salvation Army hasn't moved yet, and that needs to happen before park work can begin in earnest. Must also wonder about how it is impacted by delays in building the boulevard.
Terry 11:35 a.m. I really love old buildings because of their rich detailing compared to the newer designs, so I was wondering if the possibility even existed to remove some of the cladding from such buildings as the Dowell Building (former Petroleum Building) to bring back the original richer facade?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. The facade of the Petroleum Building was destroyed as part of a renovation by Kerr-McGee in the 1960s. It's gone.
Ronaldo 11:36 a.m. Have there been updated designs for the new Central Park for the December 18th meeting. I know a lot of issues were brought up to Hargreaves team, but they seemed to dismiss all public concerns.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. If you think the designers are ignoring public concerns, contact the mayor and your council person. They, and not the designers, have final say on this project.
Brandon 11:36 a.m. What ever happened to the FlatIron plans north of Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. Still in a Great Recession induced coma.
Intrigued 11:37 a.m. Do you happen to have to hand any photos of what the neighborhood where the GE Research Center is going in used to look like?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. Yep. I'll try to post them this next week at OKC Central.
Tower Talk 11:37 a.m. Since we are one the cusp of tower announcements, surely you should know how tall some likely will be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. Maybe.
OK Joe 11:38 a.m. How long do you think it will take the new vacant building registration to start making an impact on the remaining blighted core areas of the city and surrounding neighborhoods? Is the land bank a must-have in order to give real teeth to this ordinance? What vacant building would you most like to see immediately rehabilitated? (Sunshine Cleaners?)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. I'm not sure yet.
Guest 11:39 a.m. Does the GE building change the city's idea of reconstructing 10th St or are they finally going to start working on it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. This is one of many questions I have to follow up on.
Guest 11:39 a.m. are there any design committees or review boards for development in the HSC area? I
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Only Urban Renewal.
Terry 11:40 a.m. Where do you think the best possibilities exist for a downtown retail corridor and how do you think the City can help to develop such a corridor?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. Reno Avenue east of I-235 would be a huge challenge.... but ... it is nicely located.
Ronaldo 11:40 a.m. Are there any other new developments east of 235 on the horizon?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. Watch the old Page-Woodson school property.
Ronaldo 11:41 a.m. What do you see Blair Humphreys doing now that he has left OU and is now working with his family's development company? Maybe the River Development or Triangle or something else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. He is set to focus on developing the old downtown airpark along the river.
Guest 11:42 a.m. Earlier in the chat you said we'd unwrap these gifts over the next couple of weeks. Are these going to extend into the next year or do we get all our gifts before Christmas?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Most of the gifts are this month.
Ronaldo 11:42 a.m. Has housing above the Main Street parking garage been proposed? I know they extended the timeline. I just wander how they are building it without having a completed design? Will they have to add support beams/columns etc to support the housing? It may have to be taller to be economical?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. They're still trying to see if it can be done.
Happy Ruth 11:42 a.m. Hey Steve! Did you watch our girl in the Sound of Music Last Night? I was swelling with hometown pride!!!!!!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Yep.
Guest 11:43 a.m. Whatever happened to the chamber's plans for a new headquarters? Are they still looking to build new digs?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Dead.
OK Joe 11:43 a.m. Is the new garage being built/expanded next to the existing Dowell garage (near the memorial if i remember correctly) going to have the same cinder-block style architecture? Is this also a Dowell project? They seem very ugly/plain and not to the standard that other developers in the area are setting. Is this a reflection on what we can expect architecturally-speaking from Mr. Dowell in the future with his Dowell Center next to the SandRidge park building?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. It will have the same facade.
James 11:43 a.m. What do you think of the city trying to regulate and profit off of the new UBER car service in OKC? If they squash this service i feel like it would really hurt our city.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Sounds like you like Uber.
Terry 11:44 a.m. Soonerred had an interesting comment last week regarding the Indian Cultural center. He was commenting on why it was hidden behind a mound of dirt. I too wondered the same thing. It all looks great in plan view, but with the mound of dirt it appears to be turning it's back to downtown and traffic on I-35 south of the river. Do you know who is the architect for that project?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. Designers are quirky. I can't recall the designers' name right now.
Guest 11:44 a.m. What's the latest on the Boathouse district? When is the next round of construction starting up?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. UCO boathouse groundbreaking is next week.
Guest 11:44 a.m. Can you tell us anything about Tom Ward's new endeavor?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. He's about to build another company and it will likely be downtown.
Elise 11:45 a.m. Morning Steve. What small business will be a welcome addition to downtown? You have mentioned something like Taylor's Newsstand, but what else? A downtown brewery, a dog daycare, a salt water float spa?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. I really wish I could bring back Taylor's....
Guest 11:45 a.m. Do you think there is a chance OKC could land any new shops like Urban Outfitters, CB2, West Elm or H&M? :)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. Meh....
DanRO 11:45 a.m. Steve, the OK River is becoming so beautiful. Will there be any opportunities for private developers to do something mixed use any time soon? If someone built a residential highrise near the boathouses, I think people would move in.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. Yes.
Mark 11:46 a.m. Steve, I am starting to better understand what you were seeing a few weeks ago when you mentioned these next 20 years have the potential to be the best okc has seen barring the 23rd and lincoln or city hall messing it up. I genuinely don't believe either entity will purposefully derail the okc boom train but what do you think are the biggest potential road blocks we might face?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. Ourselves.
Kevin 11:46 a.m. Steve I hear so many people say negative things about Bricktown being to small comparing it to S.A. Riverwalk. There is no comparision to S.A. Riverwalk. People do not realize Downtown OKC has to be the most unique downtown anywhere in the nation. They have to look outside the boundaries of bricktown and see the connection of all the inner city neighborhoods. People do not realize how much intertwined and unique of a downtown they have in their backyard. It's all connected and its walking distance. From the river district and its family adventure theme park to the trendy unique shopping,restaurants in Midtown and Automobile Alley and Its only just the beginning. So I think people need to stop comparing OKC downtown to S.A. downtown. What OKC has I think is a much better downtown. I'm glad your covering all that is going on I love your Friday chats.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. Thanks!
OK John 11:46 a.m. Hey Steve, It seems as if the pedicab service downtown has expanded. Is this a good thing for downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. I think so.
mukkuu 11:47 a.m. I know this is often asked, but have you heard any more news on Trader Joe's coming to the metro? I heard somewhere that they have posted jobs for management in OK. This makes me believe they are much closer to finalizing a deal. Anything you've heard?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. My sources tell me Trader Joe's has a deal set to come to Oklahoma City.
Morpheus 11:48 a.m. Steve (why do we all address you - there is no one else...) - what do you think of the abandoned/distressed property debate and resolution? Do you think we will ever get to the point like other city's that sell abandoned properties for a $1 and hold citizens to rehab/renovation timelines etc?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. The status quo wasn't working. I'll just leave it at that.
Nick 11:48 a.m. How big of a roadblock is the jail to redevelopment in that area of western OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. It's not a help. But it's not a deal killer either.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. Folks, I've to log out now and get to writing. 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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