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OKC Central Chat transcript, Feb. 7, 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: February 7, 2014 at 2:58 pm •  Published: February 7, 2014

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:20 a.m. Good morning! Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. Good morning. Sorry I am running late.
CJ 10:05 a.m. What is the status of the coffee shop/cafe in the downtown library? I noticed it was closed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. Good question - I just heard about this myself earlier this week. I'll provide an update as soon as I find out.
CJ 10:06 a.m. What is the status of the Dowell Tower/building? Is he fixing it up or waiting? Residential or offices?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Rick Dowell goes at his own pace. He has told me in the past he will be timing completion of this project with completion of the adjoining Park Side building being built by SandRidge Energy and reconstruction of Kerr Park. He has continued to indicate the building will be renovated back into office space, though there are many who would love to see this property become housing.
CJ 10:08 a.m. How many candidates are running for mayor?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. Four. Mick Cornett, Ed Shadid, Phil Hughes and Joe Nelson.
CJ 10:08 a.m. Are there any new for sale residential downtown besides Lisbon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. The Lison Lofts in Midtown and The Hill in Deep Deuce are the main areas where new for sale housing is still being built downtown. But there are a couple more potential developments I am tracking that may also involve for-sale housing.
Terry 10:09 a.m. You've mentioned you'd like to see better connectivity between Bricktown and the downtown core. What are some ways this can be done?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Change E.K. Gaylord, and make it more pedestrian friendly with sidewalks on the east side of the road and more landscaping. Look at whether all six lanes of traffic are really needed or whether some parallel parking can be added along the street.
CJ 10:11 a.m. Have you driven the new barren crosstown boulevard? Is that how the rest of it will be? With the 30' median and 100' Right of way on both sides killing all pedestrian and bicycle access.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. Yes, I've driven the Crosstown Boulevard (which Mayor Mick Cornett wants to call Oklahoma City Boulevard). The city has indicated there will be more landscaping and other improvements as it is completed. But have no doubt, what you see is essentially what the state and city engineers had in mind for the boulevard for everything west of Walker Avenue. That is subject to change now following grassroots protest back in 2012 that forced the design to be redone. We should be seeing an update on this project soon.
Terry 10:13 a.m. I'm excited the Brewer's finally came to an agreement on the Santa Fe Depot. Do you know what the timetable is for the various phases planned to convert the Depot into the Intermodal Transit Hub?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. I had an update on the depot earlier this week: The city is negotiating a design contract with TAP Architecture and construction is set to start next year. Something that may catch many by surprise is the construction on the first phase of the streetcar system is set to begin later this year, with an opening in 2017.
Pat 10:21 a.m. Good morning Steve - The Parkside building that Sandridge is building looks more and more like the old amenities building that Sandridge first proposed instead of an offce tower for lease. Do you know anything about this ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. The exterior was never, as I understood it, set for significant change with re-purposing of the building. The floor count did change, and it is being turned into office space.
CJ 10:23 a.m. So you tweeted the big downtown retail that will make Dallas jealous is no longer happening. Is there a chance that will come back around?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. No, I did not tweet that. I said that a deal involving a major retailer I've been tracking for downtown was dead. This is separate from the project you are referring to, which is still very much alive but not yet done.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. And yes, there is a chance the retailer I'm referring to could still end up in the mix later on. This was not a question of sufficient household rooftops or market, but rather the retailer decided to slate this store for next year and that didn't fit with plans for where they were looking.
Terry 10:25 a.m. What elements would you like to see included or changed in the design of the Core-to-Shore park?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. I was visiting this last week with one of the designers. My basic question to him was this: show me something in the designs at this point that would make me want to go to this park. What makes it special? Because right now, I don't see it.
CJ 10:27 a.m. Will the new OG&E building add money to the TIF basket for Project 180?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. No. The Devon TIF is limited to the Devon Energy Center property. But the State Center property is in the original downtown TIF, meaning 50 percent of new property taxes from this project would go into that TIF. But also keep in mind, that TIF district is already halfway through its life-cycle, so the bump from this might not be as significant as one might think.
Terry 10:29 a.m. What are the Humphreys planning to do with the Downtown Airport property?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. They're re-evaluating their whole direction with this property and it is now being guided by Blair Humphreys. I'll be excited to see what he comes up with.
Pat 10:29 a.m. Hi Steve, You said there is a chance of a large entertainment venue downtown that Dallas would be envious of. Are you referring to the possibility of a Great Wolf Lodge concept for the Boathouse district ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. No, but the folks at the Boathouse Foundation have been open in saying they are very interesting in pursuing development of a Great Wolf Lodge or similar concept.
Sooner Than Later 10:30 a.m. Do you believe 2014 will be one of the most interesting and highly publicized (nationally) political years in the state of Oklahoma? At least compared to recent years and memory? If so, do you foresee any local/OKC big projects being put on hold until the outcome in November? Is there a concern that the change of political climate could hurt or benefit any projects you are aware of?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. State politics are state politics. That's all I'll say about that. As for local politics, yeah, I've said it before, the outcome of the mayor's race could significantly impact redevelopment of the city's urban core. We've seen some folks in this race trying to divide suburban neighborhoods against the older urban core. It's an old trick that is used in city after city. And when those forces prevail, of course it changes a city's momentum.
CJ 10:34 a.m. What is the building going in on the west side of Classen between 13th and 14th streets. It looks big and deep.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. I had a story about this project yesterday:
Pat 10:35 a.m. Hi Steve, Any timeframe of when the SC site will be cleared ? Hopefully they can salvage some of the existing structure. Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. An appeal seeking to stop demolition of Stage Center has been filed by Preservation Oklahoma that will be heard by the Board of Adjustment next month. No demolition will take place until all appeals are exhausted.
Terry 10:36 a.m. I liked your article about Park Avenue transforming itself back into a retail corridor. I still think Broadway presents the best option of becoming the main corridor, especially now that the City will add diagonal parking in the Automobile Alley section, but any and all feeder corridors that connect with Broadway should be encouraged. Can you tell us any news of new retail planning to move back downtown.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. I've encountered some confusion out there about the city planners' intentions in saying Park Avenue was ideal for retail. Note, they were talking about the Central Business District, not all of downtown, which I pointed out in the story. I think everyone involved agrees Automobile Alley is indeed turning into downtown's first truly viable retail corridor. And the sooner the city gets started with converting the parallel parking spaces along Broadway into angled spaces, creating a narrower street, the sooner we will see Automobile Alley's full emergence as a retail corridor. I fear if this parking switch is delayed much longer (it's been four years in the making to date), we risk seeing some of these retailers dropping out or the momentum stalling. Public Works Director Eric Wenger recently assured me he is committed to seeing this work start this spring. I believe him.
William Crum 10:40 a.m. Regarding the earlier question about the downtown library cafe, John Rahhal at the library's business office says a new operator has plans to reopen the cafe March 1. It closed Dec. 31.
CJ 10:40 a.m. Have you ever seen anyone hanging out in Bicentennial Park? Will the new Central Park be a waste of money like that park? I don't see how the city can justify building a park a block from another park with the same functions as the existing park? Who do we contact on the copy cat design of the park to get it changed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. No, I have only seen activity at the park on the rare occasion there is a formal event like the fundraiser done for Emerson High School last year. Some architects are known for putting more emphasis on how a project might look photographed (form) over how it might get used (function). I'll leave it to others to decide which focus was made a priority with Bicentennial Park. As for the Core to Shore park (or central park as you call it), well, I can't figure out who will photograph or use what is currently proposed.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. If you don't like what you're seeing, contact the mayor and council.
CJ 10:43 a.m. What cities do you most admire and what aspects of those cities do you wish OKC would implement to improve OKC? I love Portland and its little unique parks, food truck lots, and bike system.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. I've not been to Portland, but I've read and watched enough to agree there's a lot about the city to love. I'm not sure that it's a good comparison for OKC to try to match up with. It's just so different in terms of geography, zoning, history and development. It's my observation that in the history of Oklahoma City, we've seen two cities dominate as influences in our development. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, we saw a City Beautiful emphasis in Oklahoma City in terms of infrastructure, parks and public spaces that was greatly influenced by Kansas City. In the post World War II era, I think it's fair to say Dallas became a bigger influence than Kansas City. In my mind, this was unfortunate. I look at Dallas today, especially downtown Dallas, and I see very little I like. They blew it with West End, they continue to fall short in what can be realized with Deep Ellum, and Victory is a complete and total disaster. I love what I've seen take place in Kansas City however. They are on the right tracks in terms of place making, public transit and revitalization of historic buildings and areas.
RowerBrandon 10:50 a.m. Happy friday Steve! Do you know when ODOT will be taking down the leftover pillars and bridges to nowhere just north of the boathouse district and SE of Bass Pro? Or were they left with some purpose in mind?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I think some of them may be re-used in building the new Crosstown Boulevard, but I am not certain of that.
Anthony 10:50 a.m. What do you think of the lisbon lofts and the other high end housing already built and currently under construction in Sosa? I feel like that styling of house is kind of trendy and in a few years we will be asking 'what the heck were developers thinking'? I guess my thought on this is, will this style of housing be popular in the future?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I don't see the designs as being too far off the chart. The market seems to be out there for this housing. Will these homes appeal to everyone? Of course not. But will they remain an asset to the community? I suspect if they are built well, yes, they'll do just fine long-term.
CJ 10:52 a.m. Do you see the GE Complex expanding and potentially having offices on both sides of I-235? Maybe not GE but other companies wanting to be a part of a new research park?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. I will be shocked if we don't see significant development pop up around the GE complex after it opens.
Anthony 10:53 a.m. What economic impact do you think the Santa Fe depot will have on Oklahoma City?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. If the transit hub conversion is done correctly, the Santa Fe Depot could be a significant help in improving the connection between Bricktown and the Central Business District. The Brewer family is to be commended to restoring the depot and keeping it maintained. But the depot never realized its full potential this past decade. The right improvements, including signage, landscaping and public spaces could go a long way in creating a better gateway for the state's premier urban entertainment district.
CJ 10:57 a.m. Have universities other than OU thought about having their nursing schools located downtown between St. Anthony's and OUHSC? I think OBU or SNU could increase attendance if they moved it there...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. As evidenced by ACM@UCO and the pending move of the OCU law school, higher ed is realizing the value to being downtown.
Anthony 10:58 a.m. Are you aware of any good restaurants opening up down town in the next 3 months?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I'm hearing a couple of rumors, but nothing specific. I know celebrity chef Danny Bowien, an Oklahoma City native, indicated on Twitter this last week he'd love to open a restaurant in Oklahoma City if given a chance.
OKC guest 11:01 a.m. Steve, with all the buildings and parks that have not come to fruition, are you losing hope that downtown will not grow as quickly as we had hoped?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. We may have very different views of what's going on downtown. What buildings and parks are you referring to that have not come to fruition?
jet 11:02 a.m. Do you think the renaissance of OKC has had more of an impact on folks moving to our fair city or keeping people like college graduates from leaving?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. I've seen, first hand, how the revival of Oklahoma City, very much driven by what we've seen in the urban core, has helped retain our youngest and brightest, who end up living and working throughout the city, and has drawn very bright and talented folks from out-of-state who again live and work throughout our city. That's why I'm so turned off by politically motivated efforts to divide urban and suburban Oklahoma City.
Terry 11:08 a.m. Who are some of the most influential Millenials you know working on downtown projects?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Andy Burnett, Alison Bailey, Blair Humphreys and Jonathan Dodson are just a few that come to mind.
Motley 11:10 a.m. Is business (shops and restaurants) closures in the central core/BT on par with the rest of OKC or is it still harder to attract business in them? How do you think the overall closure rate for OKC businesses compares to similar cities?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. It's been my general observation that stores and restaurants started by experienced smart people with good plans tend to do well, and those started by inexperienced folks with bad plans fail. I remember when I first visited Al Eschback's and the Othello's when they opened on the Bricktown Canal. I went to both places with Chad Huntington and both of us commented after meeting the operators and hearing their plans that those businesses likely wouldn't last long. We were right; they closed just months later. So in this sense, downtown is no different than anywhere else - if you know what you're doing, if you have a good business plan, you will likely do well. If not, well, that's that.
Nick Emenhiser 11:14 a.m. Hey Steve - your column today says that preservationists are winning.. bc bldgs that aren't contested are being utilized meaningful and we've learned that preservation is more powerful economic development than bldg new. I'll also agree that the Stage Center is a totally different issue, but why are we still fighting needless bldg demo's for park space and parking lots? If we're winning, then what will happen on the Preftakes block?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. I think you're referring to whole SandRidge Commons controversy from a few years ago, which is the last time that I can recall buildings being torn down to be replaced by park space. I am not aware of any significant historic buildings being torn down to make way for parking lots (other than a one-story building that was east of the Union Bus Station). Now, that said, the city is clearly set to accommodate the demands of out-of-state designers Hargreaves Associates that the old Film Exchange building along Robinson be torn down so they can have a totally clean slate for their park plan. So what I'm saying is your observation is partially, but not totally in line what what I'm seeing. As for the Preftakes block, we'll have to wait and see what happens.
Jon S. 11:18 a.m. There was mention of 'regional' transit with the new Santa Fe Depot... as in train commutes to Dallas and/or Tulsa?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. There is an ongoing discussion about whether or how to start a commuter rail service between downtown, Midwest City, Edmond and Norman.
Judge Radar 11:19 a.m. Good Thunder Morning, Steve. Does Midtown have a Marketing Association yet? It seems to me that some Saint Anthony's employees do now know what's growing up around their campus. Some don't even know about Hudson and 8th!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. Yes, judge, I saw your tweets last night. There is a Midtown Redevelopment Corp. though I'm not sure how extensive their marketing effort is beyond advertising. I said on Twitter, and I'll say it again, that the lack of knowledge expressed by folks you've encountered at St. Anthony indicates an ignorance on their behalf of their surroundings. How can they not see what's going on in the neighborhood around their workplace? Bizarre stuff, but totally believable.
Ed 11:21 a.m. MAPS is oftentimes attributed with our downtown's revitalization without any mention of TIF incentives. What is your best guess as to the amount of TIF funds provided for downtown development since their inception?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Tax increment financing has been a tremendous key to downtown development, especially for housing. You bring up a good question, one that requires a more in-depth answer than I can provide in this chat. I'll address this in an upcoming column.
Sooner 11:22 a.m. I heard that Trader Joe's was looking at a downtown that true? Or are they just looking around the Chesapeake area?
Hurley 11:24 a.m. The retailer that fell through, is anything looking to take its place yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. Yep.
drinner 11:24 a.m. Looking at the conceptual drawing in the paper, it does not look like there will much room for traffic on Gaylord between the depot & Cox Center. It is the major route now, Shields is the major exit to new I-40. Where does the city plan on routing traffic? I live in Moore & work north of downtown & have used Broadway 20+ years.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. That rendering, as you noted, is very conceptual. Let's wait to see what comes next.
Terry 11:25 a.m. I thought I heard that City engineers would consider converting E.K. Gaylord from 6 lanes to 4 lanes to allow for better pedestrian access and some parallel parking. Have you heard anything similar?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. It's something they are looking at.
Sooner 11:25 a.m. What strategies would you propose to promote Park Ave as the "new" CBD retail corridor? What CAN the city do?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. I don't know. That's why they are hiring consultants!
Guest 11:26 a.m. It feels as if OKC downtown is losing momentum with a lot of deals falling through. Are you concerned at all about downtown losing momentum or is this something that is just part of growing a city?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. You're the second one to say this in this chat and it bewilders me. How are you reaching this conclusion? We are seeing more and more hotels getting built, more and more housing, more retail stores opening, and an impressive revival of Film Row.
Dan 11:28 a.m. Steve, in what order to you see the following projects breaking ground: Convention center, core to shore park, the streetcar, the downtown boulevard, Santa Fe station redevelopment?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Downtown boulevard work is ongoing with more set to start soon. The streetcar project starts later this year. Santa Fe Depot work starts next year. I believe Core to Shore park work is set to start next year. The convention center isn't set to start until, as I recall, 2016 or 2017.
Guest 11:29 a.m. Would you mind posting a link to the park design plans?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Read this post start to finish:
Elise 11:30 a.m. Hi Steve. Do you think the Eastern Flyer train trips between Sapulpa and Midwest City will affect the chances of that rail corridor becoming a passenger link between OKC and Tulsa? Are you riding it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. I've not had the chance to ride the train from Tulsa, though it is getting off to a great start with sold out excursions. But if ODOT sells that line, we may see a quick demise to this opportunity.
Larry 11:31 a.m. Any substance to the football stadium rumor? (not soccer)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Absolutely not.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. I can also tell you there is no truth to Disney planning to build an amusement park in Stroud either (another classic Oklahoma legend).
Sooner 11:32 a.m. Steve- What are your thoughts about breaking up the Cox Center super block once the new convention center is built? This turns into a prime spot for development right in front of the chesapeake
Terry 11:33 a.m. I really like the design of the Aloft Hotel in Deep Deuce. Any word as to when it will be completed and has a Grand Opening date been set?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Sooner, the Cox block is still a decade away from really being in play. I'm struggling to envision what's next in five years!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Terry, the last I heard the opening is now set for March.
BethanySooner 11:34 a.m. Hey Steve. The analysis for retail in the Park Ave area is interesting. Could the First National Bldg be in play? Also, what effect might this have on Automobile Alley retail?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. First National Center needs to be in play. But will the right locals ever get this out of the hands of disconnected out-of-state owners? As for Automobile Alley, we're really talking about two different types of retail corridors.
dr-dude 11:35 a.m. morning steve: can you tell us what's going on with the old sears store at quail springs mall? it's been an empty shell for over a year now. i never see any work going on. i thought the new tenent was going to move in this spring
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. It's going slower than expected, but I've seen nothing to indicate this deal is in trouble.
Guest 11:36 a.m. With TB Pickens being a native Oklahoman and worth billions, do you think he could locate is company in OKC He's given millions to OSU and locally people know that. Imagine if he bought the Cotton Mill site and built the Picken's Tower or towers that was so world class that would make people's jaws drop? It would be great for the city, state, and a company for many of his beloved OSU grads to stay in state and work for! He would become an iconic figure and become immortal in a way. It would also put OKC front and center as a national presence as an "Energy City". Any one who knows the man should get in his ear and who knows, stranger things have happened. I couldn't think of a better gift/opportunity than something like this. Realistic or crazy????? Be nice.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. It's not going to happen.
Terry 11:37 a.m. You've mentioned before that you rarely see people use the newly redone Bicentennial Park at the Civic Center. What do you think went wrong with Rand Elliot's redesign that has caused this?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. It all comes down to the question of form and function. I can tell you the park looks amazing if you are gazing at it from one of the nearby high-rises or from the rooftop garden of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
James 11:38 a.m. Mr.Lackmeyer, although my wife and I have been watching Thunder games for the past six years circumstances (children) kept us from attending a game until
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. James, your comment got cut off. Feel free to repost.
Guest 11:38 a.m. Steve, first thank you for this chat. It's great to read every week. My question, in regards to the entertainment venue that could make KC & Dallas jealous, would it be similar to KC's Power & Light area? I would LOVE to see something like that here in OKC, I think it would do well....
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. If what I've seen becomes a reality, it would, in my opinion, be better.
Paige 11:39 a.m. RE: the Library Cafe, the new operator needs better signage. From the street the name of the place was very unreadable and it was unclear what it was. It will need a modern logo/signage and be clear what it is.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. I agree 100 percent.
Talk the Talk or Walk the Walk 11:39 a.m. Going on what you said last week and earlier today, what makes you think Eric Wenger has suddenly gone all new urbanist? What can you point to that he has done that would show this? And what future yardsticks can we measure the City and in particular Public Works' efforts by? What to watch for? Thoughts about the new Planning Director hire and the rhetoric that might emerge from the City Manager's office before and after that hiring process?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Now wait a minute... I don't believe I've ever said that Wenger is a born-again new urbanist. But they are trying to show a greater interest in the urban planning discussions that have taken root throughout the community. A test will be whether the city indeed gets that can of paint out this spring and finally creates angled parking spaces on Broadway. I am not encouraged with what I've seen with hiring efforts to date for the planning director's job. A posting over just a month or so, and no extensive national search? Is our city deserving of a great planning director, or just one "who is qualified"?
Guest 11:43 a.m. Steve, do you think the city is making a mistake still pushing Core 2 Shore? My understanding is that the concept is from a time before there was all the revitalization north of downtown, and today the free market is going a different direction than what was originally envisioned. Do you think Core 2 Shore will ultimately be a huge success or will it need to be scaled back?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. I think a lot of time and money was wasted on out-of-state consultants whose suggestions and ideas are pretty much already proven to be irrelevant. That said, I do see an organic development taking place in Core to Shore that will be barely recognizable when compared to what the Core to Shore consultants drew up. As an aside, is there a trend arising in my thoughts about out-of-state consultants?
Terry 11:45 a.m. The one new connection planned between Bricktown and downtown thru the Santa Fe station will be great, but too small to really improve the connectivity to downtown that much. However, if the Bricktown canal were to be extended west into downtown, that would really improve the whole downtown experience as well as add variety of types of connections. I don't think this should be done, however, until they demolish the Cox Convention Center, if they ever do decide to demolish it. Until then, I hope City Planners will plan far enough ahead to allow for the possibility of the canal extension thru the Cox site all the way to the Myriad Gardens and not allow future development that would kill it.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. I think you're under-estimating the potential of a properly re-purposed Santa Fe Depot. But I'm not disagreeing with you when it comes to the potential of a canal that extends to the Myriad Gardens.
Sooner 11:47 a.m. At what point, if any, could we see newer apartments for rent in the downtown OKC area for $700-800?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. Developers are working on this now, but if it happens, it will be experimental and will depend on how folks adapt to a new style of housing downtown.
Ryan Bent 11:48 a.m. Steve is oklahoma city going to move forward on the convention center or are they going to sit on it like every other city does in the United States.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. Voters have approved funding for a convention center by saying yes to a capital improvements tax that had a city council resolution attached promising that money would be spent on a new convention center. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, who did not vote in that 2009 MAPS 3 election, is leading an initiative petition effort that, if successful, would ask voters to overturn that vote. This is, to my knowledge, unprecedented in city history. I wonder what the ultimate impact will be if this effort is successful.
J 11:51 a.m. I drove past where The Rise is going to be yesterday and noticed some internal gutting. Is there a timeline on when it will open for business? Do you think it will be a big hit?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:53 a.m. The Rise is clearly way off of its original schedule. But construction continues. With the announced tenant mix and ample parking, why wouldn't it be a success once it opens?
Susan 11:53 a.m. Good Morning Steve. If I recall correctly the Garage Burger in Midtown was going to have an 80's theme, does this in affect what the Retropub in Uptown is doing? Will they be similar?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:54 a.m. Nah. I've been the Garage place in Edmond, and its ties to the '80s are pretty thin. It's a burger and bar joint, part of the Hal Smith Group. Retropub, on the other hand, is a bar that will be heavy into the 1980s. The comparison between Garage and Retropub is very, very weak.
OKC Guest 11:54 a.m. I'm basing everything off of these chats. I don't hear many rumours, so info you give us is (rightfully and understandably) vague. I just know I've seen so many comments saying plans you had heard some buzz about fall through. As someone who is new to the city, but loving how it's growing; I'm curious if this is part of the growth, or something to be discouraged about
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. The only things I've said have fallen through are a major retailer that was looking at the Central Business District and a couple of hotels in Bricktown (which is still seeing significant hotel development).
The overall development trend downtown is still very, very strong.
Guest 11:55 a.m. Any word on housing atop the Main Street Parking Garage?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. We'll learn this month if we're going to see any development proposals.
Ryan Bent 11:56 a.m. steve do you belive that once the convention center is built it will draw more attention to downtown Oklahoma City and maybe even the state of Oklahoma or not?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. I don't know.
Joe 11:56 a.m. Any news on the new planning director or COTPA director? These could be important hires for the future of OKC.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Nope. But I agree.
Susan 11:56 a.m. What does the Uptown District need to do to have the city add more pedestrian crossing areas?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Be very, very, very vocal.
Kevin 11:57 a.m. I know this is a stretch from your area but driving down I-40 W I noticed the outlet mall is expanding saw a large area fenced off on the east side with a construction trailer. Do you know what stores they are adding to the OKC metro area.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. The outlet mall has been a big success story; I know they are expanding, but I don't what specific stores or restaurants are next.
Terry 11:57 a.m. Barring the expensive price tag, what do you think would be the best reuse of the big Cotton Mill site?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. I don't know. Likely it would be a mixed-use development.
Motley 11:58 a.m. Do the design issues with the park stem more from budgetary constraints or a lack of imagination of the designers or from a lack of interest, lack of imagination in the city leaders?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. I see a lack of imagination when compared to other parks.
RowerBrandon 11:58 a.m. Have you every been to Chattanooga, TN? I find that it is a city very comparable to OKC with its revitalization and redevelopment. Although I view it as a couple years ahead of OKC.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. I have not traveled through Chattanooga in 20 years. Sounds like it's something I should look at.
James 11:59 a.m. Mr. Lackmeyer, while my wife and I have been watching Thunder games since 2008, circumstances (children) have prevented us from attending one until this past Wednesday's game against the Timberwolves. While we enjoyed the majority of the game, parking was a mess and we missed tipoff. All of that to preface my question: Any news of new parking opening up downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. Don Karchmer is still trying to build a parking garage at Main Street and the BNSF viaduct just east of E.K. Gaylord Boulevard. Curious - did you try parking in the Main Street lots in Bricktown?
Mort 12:00 p.m. When people refer to the Adventure District as a likely extension route for trains from the Intermodal Transit hub, are they referring to the OKC Zoo area?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. Yes.
Kyle 12:00 p.m. Any word on when city plans to start redoing alleys in SOSA district
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Yes - I think that work begins later this year.
Terry 12:01 p.m. When do you think we'll see the more refined renderings of Rainey's SC design and not just the blockout version?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Likely not until after Preservation Oklahoma exhausts its appeals against demolition of State Center.
Anna 12:01 p.m. How long do you think it will be until we see some sort of transit system (other than bus) connecting downtown to southside OKC/ stockyards
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. If the initial streetcar system is a success, I could see the Stockyards being a natural early extension.
Talk the Talk or Walk the Walk 12:02 p.m. I suppose four lanes on EK Gaylord outside Santa Fe Station would be an excellent yardstick to measure change in Public Works' attitudes...
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. Yep.
Dennis 12:02 p.m. I think by Russia's Olympic standards, the Aloft Hotel is ready to open today.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. LOL.
Dan 12:02 p.m. Steve, do you think we'll ever see a live music district on par with Tulsa's(e.g. Cain's, Brady Theater, Vanguard)?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. Potentially Farmers Market.
jet 12:03 p.m. Is there one resource where I can find the location of all of the restaurants and coffee shops downtown and their hours of operation?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:03 p.m. I think you can still find such info at
Elise 12:03 p.m. Broadway also needs "Yield to Pedestrians" signs in all their crosswalks not managed by a stop light. It is really scary to cross that street. Cherry Street in Tulsa is the same way. Just had a crosswalk fatality there last year.
Guest 12:03 p.m. If you could wave a magic wand and make three things happen to strengthen downtown OKC development, what would they be?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:05 p.m. !. Conversion of First National Center into parking, housing, hotel and retail. 2. Redevelopment of the Farmers Market area. 3. Relocation of the the City Rescue Mission and the Jesus House to where the Homeless Alliance is located.
Guest 12:05 p.m. I hope they don't tare down the cotton mill.ihope they use whats there for the most part
Sooner 12:06 p.m. To those talking about parking problems in OKC during Thunder games: There is tons of street parking and a huge parking garage at Walker/Sheridan that is rarely used during Thunder games. It's only a couple blocks walk to the arena...I park there for every Thunder game and have absolutely no problems.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. OK folks, it's been two hours. Time to say goodbye. Have a great weekend and stay warm!
by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
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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