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OKC Central Chat transcript, Jan. 31, 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: January 31, 2014 at 2:10 pm •  Published: January 31, 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 8:38 a.m. Good morning! Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. Good morning everybody.
BethanySooner 10:04 a.m. Good morning Steve. That was great news about the new owner of the Arcade Bldg in film row. With all the public and private investment in the area, would you say that the Film Row District is the latest hot spot for development? What more can we expect to happen in this area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Film Row is often regarded as simply the stretch of Sheridan Avenue between Dewey and Classen Boulevard. But as you note, it also includes the same stretch of Main Street and California to the north and south. The Arcade purchase by David Wanzer presents the tantalizing prospect of Main Street truly coming to life with the 21C Museum Hotel set to become a reality nearby at the old Fred Jones Assembly plant. Expect all the remaining Jones family property in the area to be redeveloped as well. But there are challenges to be overcome. The area suffers from an abundance of police association owned surface parking lots. Ideally, it would be great to see these redeveloped in some fashion and replaced by one structured parking garage.
jet 10:07 a.m. How an area morphs from a run-down eyesore into a trendy place to be has always amazed me. I finally spent some time in the Plaza District. With the emphasis on local art for sale, the tasteful restoration of the old buildings, and the proliferation of Millennials, the place is really unique. The Mule is great too. Is there another neglected area of OKC that could be the next big thing?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. I've long believed the Farmers Market area is just begging to become a very special place in the urban core. The street fabric along Klein Avenue, with its gentle curve and embrace of the historic Farmer's Public Market area is really something to envision, and the brick buildings all have a lot of charm and character. And the area has a lot of vacant land on which housing could be built.
BethanySooner 10:09 a.m. During the competition for the old Mercy Hospital site, which is where the Edge is now being built, a number of developers presented their ideas. In addition to the winner, I really liked Marva Ellard's concept. Is she still actively seeking a site for a large development? 4th & Shartel perhaps?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Marva Ellard is busy pursuing a couple of exciting projects, but nothing I can report at this moment.
BethanySooner 10:10 a.m. You mentioned that in addition to the proposed OGE Bldg there were still at least two other towers under consideration that you were aware of. Would these two most likely be on the Main/Hudson block, and the Kerr/Hudson block?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Logic would tell you those could be two great tower sites.
BethanySooner 10:10 a.m. Are you aware of a delay on the construction of the Metropolitan Apartments? Their original plan was to get approval in the September planning meeting, which they did, so they could get started in January of this year.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. My understanding is they are still on track. I'll update this project soon.
KZ 10:11 a.m. Are you ready to announce the development that will make Dallas in Houston envious?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Nope.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. I'm not sure I said Houston.... but Dallas? Yeah...
Gary T 10:11 a.m. How many homes at The Hill are under construction right now? When is the next round supposed to start?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. If I recall correctly, they are about one-third through the 157-townhome development... homes are selling faster than they can be built.
Gary T 10:12 a.m. Will we ever see a renovation of the Melvin Luster home in Deep Deuce? I would think that would be a great B&B to add to Deep Deuce.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. I agree Gary T! Time for you to get the bankers together and make a deal the Lusters can't refuse!
Gary T 10:13 a.m. How is the construction of several buildings on Sheridan west of Lee in Film Row coming along?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. The Slvr Building is pretty much complete, work is coming along nicely on the Hunsucker law building and the school, and Chip Fudge is well into renovations on a one-story building just to the east of the Slvr Building.
Gary T 10:14 a.m. Any word on the firehouse townhome in Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. I saw the building permit go through recently. I'll check in with Ron Walters to get an update.
Gary T 10:14 a.m. What did you think of Mick's State of the City speech?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. It was positive, upbeat and looked forward at the future.
BethanySooner 10:15 a.m. I realize you don't want to tip off your competition, but are there any other big announcements that you are working on that will be released soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Always.
BethanySooner 10:15 a.m. When you say, 'that based on what you are following, and if current trends continue, we will have a fully developed downtown stretching from Classen to I-235, and 13th to Reno by 2020', are you meaning that all available land in that area will be developed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. I am saying that the area will be essentially seamlessly developed. Will there be a few hold-outs? Sure. But the area won't be scarred by large swaths of blighted and empty lots.
Gary T 10:16 a.m. With the Embassy Suites and (Country music superstar) Toby Keith's OK Kid's Corral opening south of the medical district, how long until we see more development east of Lincoln and south of NE 8th street? Will the purchase old school on Stonewall to be turned into housing help that development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is working with Ron Bradshaw, who bought the old Page-Woodson school, to develop that area. So yes, we will see continued development of that area, but the various players also are being cautious not to be seen as threatening to the nearby JFK neighborhood either.
Gary T 10:18 a.m. How is the Ambassador Hotel renovation coming along?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. They're making some good progress.
BethanySooner 10:18 a.m. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that you said something to the effect that the OKCPD wanted the old jail building on Shartel torn down versus renovating it for offices or housing. If true, why would they even care since they will be in their new digs at that point?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. As evidenced by the debate over Stage Center, where some people see a historic building, others see an eyesore.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. Thanks Matthew! Will do! (in response to private comment)
Jenni Carlson 10:20 a.m. Thanks! Will do.
Gary T 10:20 a.m. Are you sick of people saying all Mayor Mick Cornett cares about is downtown? All trails, sidewalks and senior wellness centers will be built outside of downtown, so what's the problem?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. II question the tactic of trying to pit downtown vs. the suburbs. Downtown is the neighborhood enjoyed by the entire city, and those who use this political tactic know that.
Gary T 10:21 a.m. When is OKSEA going to be up and running?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. I'll have an update soon.
Gary T 10:22 a.m. Any word on more infill between 6th, 10th, 235 and Broadway?
Gary T 10:22 a.m. When will the Journal Record building start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. Maybe later this year. It will take some time to do design work, complete deals for the garage.
Gary T 10:22 a.m. How are renovations of OCU's new law school coming along?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. I hear it is on track for classes to begin in 2015.
Gary T 10:23 a.m. With the sale of the Main Street Arcade building finally happening, do you think we will see some more development on the two blocks of parking lots south of that any time soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. I think there is plenty of potential for the lots owned by Dennis Box. Not so sure about the police association owned lots.
Guest 10:24 a.m. With the announcement of Top Golf, is it almost a done deal that Costco and Cabela's will be coming to Western and Memorial?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Despite what you've heard, there are no print or television news reporters who have indicated a Costco deal is set to occur at Western and Memorial. A wave of stories were done by TV news reporters - who basically interviewed people at nearby shopping centers asking their reaction to "rumors" of a Costco. That occurred last summer.
thunder-dog 10:27 a.m. morning steve, what's going on with the marriott hotel on nw expressway? is it going to have a new name? it would be pretty hard to do business as an indepentdent.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. It's a loss for a hotel to lose a major flag like Marriott. You lose their reservations system, you lose their credibility.
Guest 10:27 a.m. Last week you hinted at a big retail play downtown that would excite .... i was thinking we might see something this week. will we maybe see that announcement next week?
Paige G 10:28 a.m. Hey Steve. I wondering about what's to become of a couple of complexes: Villa Teresa Catholic School in Midtown and the Sunbeam buildings in Mesta Park (once they move). Heard anything? Regarding Sunbeam, I live a couple of blocks from there. I hope whatever moves in there is “low-impact” and fits with the neighborhood. With Sunbeam, there aren’t a lot of cars coming and going, etc.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Guest, the retail deal will happen soon enough. I don't recall saying it would pop this week.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. Paige, Villa Theresa may take some time. Remember, the Sisters still live there. As far as Sunbeam goes, I suspect it's an attractive target for redevelopment.
Nick Emenhiser 10:30 a.m. Any update on the idea to incorporate Stage Center modules (not concrete base) into the Central Park? Richard Mize had a great column you linked in a recent chat, and many have brought up the idea. Is Hargreaves amenable to the idea?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. The consistent message coming from the Hargreaves folks is that with the exception of Union Station, they want a "clear slate" - and have no desire to incorporate anything that isn't created from scratch based on their own renderings.
Guest 10:31 a.m. When will demolition/construction/renovation start on the historic Santa Fe Station?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. The city is in the midst of acquiring control of the property. Design work will take months to complete. Don't expect any construction to start before 2015.
Lithophile 10:32 a.m. It seems like so much of what you report on is now (for some reason) tied up with the mayoral race. Transit, the downtown park, convention center, etc. With that in mind, when can we get William Crumm in here to talk city politics?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. I was hoping to have Bill as my guest this morning but he ended up in a meeting this morning with Ed Shadid. I agree, the future of downtown development, to some degree, has a lot riding on this election. I'm hearing a lot of anti-downtown/urban core rhetoric being spread by Shadid followers. Hopefully Bill can join us next week.
Guest 10:35 a.m. The buildings on 10th and Broadway being developed in Auto Alley seem to well underway. Any news on tenants?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. Soon.
Josh 10:36 a.m. The old Cricket building on 9th and Broadway has a construction dumpster now and seems to have work being performed. Have you heard if this will remain offices or will we see it finally become retail/restaurant?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. It will become the home of the new Funk-led soccer operation.
George 10:37 a.m. Steve were you in attendance at the state of the city? What did you think about Micks speech and was Shadid there?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Bill Crum attended this one, but I watched it later. It was positive, forward looking.
Dan 10:37 a.m. Steve, now that the old Crescent Market building is emptied out, is there anything on your radar as to what will be done with it?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. With the departure of Aubrey McClendon from Chesapeake Energy, all promises crumbled that the removal of Crescent Market and the Nichols Hills Drugstore with the city's last great old lunch counter would not be for nothing. Henry Hood, the company's general counsel who made those promises on behalf of McClendon, also is no longer with Chesapeake. The company's new leadership has indicated they are getting out of the commercial land development business.
Guest 10:40 a.m. Steve, would you consider a CVS or Walgreens in the downtown area a Big Retail?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Would you?
Susan 10:40 a.m. Any word from City Hall if hey have received a lot of emails in regards to the Downtown Park Design? Do you mind listing that contact information again? I've email everyone once about the proposed design, I hope others on here will take the time to do so also, there is no reason OKC can't have a better park design then Tulsa.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Contact Mayor Mick Cornett at or call 297-2424.
Contact Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner at
Contact Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid at
Contact Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee at
Contact Ward 4 Councilman Pete White at
Contact Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell at
Contact Ward 6 Councilman Meg Salyer at
Contact Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis at
Contact Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan at

FYI - at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Myriad Gardens foundation director Maureen Heffernan said she doubts the estimated cost of operating the new park provided by the designers at Hargreaves Associates. The cost they provided for a park far larger than the Myriad Gardens was surprising not much more than the cost of operating the Myriad Gardens.
George 10:46 a.m. Steve, several of my friends who are over 50 and work downtown have expressed to me that they would like to see the okc blvd be a second major artery in and out of downtown aka similar to nw expressway. I tried to tell them that we should plan streets for people to use all day not for the 5 minutes of traffic in the morning and afternoon. I am very concerned this is the generation and social group that odot caters to. What can I do to help prevent this from happening? Should I write a letter to odot? Email then examples such as Boston's commonwealth avenue? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. George, I've encountered this question in several issues I've covered. I'm a Generation Xer, so I can relate to both the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. These are two very different generations with very different ideas, needs and goals. Baby Boomers were raised to idealize life in the suburbs with wide open expressways to take them to and from work in their nice big cars. Millennials are increasingly wanting to ditch their cars, live in the urban core where they can be a part of a community they find more interesting and exciting. They hate expressways. They want to walk, bike and use a streetcar. So the question is, are we building a downtown for the Baby Boomers, who are entering into their retirement years, or to the Millennials, who won't be as patient as Generation X has been in taking over leadership of the city's direction. Engineers are tasked with creating a downtown that will meet the desires and demands of the Millennials while still providing the sort of access Baby Boomers are accustomed to. We Generation Xers, meanwhile, can only sit back and realize we are outnumbered by both groups.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. George, as far as what you can do, contact your city council representative, contact the mayor, and yes, show up at upcoming public hearings about the boulevard design.
John 10:54 a.m. Was that meeting with Shadid a coincidence or strategic play by Ed to keep Bill from hearing what the people really want?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. It was a coincidence! There is no conspiracy.
Pat 10:54 a.m. Hi Steve, If you know, would you tell us where you think Tapstone might end up ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Downtown.
George 10:55 a.m. Steve please make a bold claim about okc in 2030
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. I will be able to retire and enjoy our future city without being broke.
George 10:57 a.m. Is there something you want us to talk about today that we haven't mentioned yet
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Yeah. Without it sounding self-serving, I think people under-estimate the impact of The Oklahoman moving later this year to the old Century Center mall at Sheridan and Robinson. Think about how you relate not just to me as a writer and reporter, but to The Oklahoman over all. How can we better connect with the community, what other new forms of communication (like this chat) can we explore and play with as we seek out better ways to serve our readers?
Guest 11:00 a.m. TRADER JOES!!!!!!!!!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. Trader Joes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
George 11:01 a.m. Steve with its proximity to the rail lines the current Kimray HQ I think has potential to really lure in some kind of major manufacturing or distribution center for okc. Is anything already brewing for this site?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. It's a question worth asking. I don't an answer.
George 11:01 a.m. Please tell Brianna Bailey her stories have been great this week as have yours. Good job Oklahoman business team!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Absolutely! I was a big proponent of trying to win Brianna over from the competition. She's a great journalist, and she was one of my best competitors out there before she joined us at The Oklahoman's business desk.
Guest 11:03 a.m. The current park design is better than Tulsa's.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Glad you like it Mr. Hargreaves.
George 11:05 a.m. Steve what type of tenant do you think would be most successful in the now to be renovated arcade building? Do you have anyone specifically in mind? Is anyone already snooping?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. I suspect we're likely looking at offices in the second floor and retailers in the first floor.
John 11:06 a.m. There is anywhere between 30-40 projects if not more taking place within downtown, bricktown, midtown, uptown, film row, arts district, auto alley, plaza. Now it seems like that excitement is spreading to Western, Nichols Hills, Memorial Road. Did you ever imagine something like this taking place in the core of OKC 10 years ago?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. I dreamed of it. I actually worry about the development taking place along Memorial, especially the clusters of apartments being built. What is to stop them from turning into the next Lyrewood Lane? What is to stop Memorial Road from following the track we're seeing with Northwest Expressway?
George 11:07 a.m. CVS and/or Walgreens in downtown is big retail! I live down here and it is a real hassle to get toiletries and meds. This is much needed and will significantly contribute to the livability of the area
Bob 11:08 a.m. The old jail is going to be a serious challenge. It has lots of water damage and asbestos. In addition, the plan is to turn the current police HQ into a parking lot after they move out
George 11:08 a.m. Steve is there anyway you or one of your co workers could use the word 'derplahoman' in one of your articles? Especially someone who covers the capital
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. I think that word is Trademarked by The Lost Ogle.
Jeff 11:08 a.m. What is the most exciting development you ever followed?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. During my career? Easy: Devon Energy Center.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Second favorite, almost a tie - Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Note, I wrote books about both!
soonerred 11:10 a.m. As the city is continually trying to create the new image, would there ever be room for a giant fountain of some sort to be built. Fountains seem to be found in many cities that people enjoy visiting & have such an appeal to all.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. The fountain at Bicentennial Park in front of the Civic Center Music Hall is pretty impressive.
Matthew 11:11 a.m. A Gather Place, the Tulsa park can be better cause its thru a foundation, not citizen tax, and has private sponsorships from local companies.
George 11:11 a.m. Steve I was very excited to read that the city is finally going to get angled parking along Broadway. Do you think the city could be so bold as to put in reverse back up spots? I think they would work a lot better on broadway and be the smart decision for the long term
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. The engineers won't go for back angle parking along Broadway. But I sense they are willing to discuss experimenting on lesser traveled side streets. I've been talking with Public Works Director Eric Wenger and I've observed how both he and City Manager Jim Couch are showing a greater interest in planning discussions and new urbanist approach to building cities. I think we are in a time where change is occurring, and decision makers are beginning to realize that, and we may need to realize assumptions we make about what people may or may not do is up for change as well.
Jeff 11:15 a.m. Do you think Steve Mason will get more involved in development than he already is now that Cardinal has sold?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. I'm intrigued by Steve Mason. I'm seeing a man who is changing his career path, getting very introspective about his goals and what he wants to next accomplish. I think Steve has already created a great legacy for himself, but as he said, he's starting out his second chapter and is determined to make it as great or better than his first chapter. He's a smart, creative and knows how to spot good risks and opportunities. I can't presume to guess how Steve's book will read when it's done, but I really believe it will remain a good one.
King George 11:18 a.m. Even with the new elementary school, what have other urban areas done to keep families from moving to the suburbs once their kids reach middle school age? I know that we have some good charter schools but have you heard anything else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. I haven't really thought about it. I know of some families who are living downtown and successfully using all of downtown's great amenities to do online education with their middle-school students. It's possible that John W. Rex Elementary could eventually expand into middle school grades at a later time. You ask a good question ....
George 11:20 a.m. Steve how much did att say it would cost to remove the weird satellite/communication thing ontop of their building downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. Several years ago I was informed by folks associated with the company that the old microwave relay equipment is essentially junk and that it would cost $150,000 to remove.
shawnw 11:21 a.m. I hear (from a friend that works there) that Devon is completely out of parking. What is going on with the city center garage expansions? I know that having a parking problem is a good problem, but it doesn't seem like the gap is closing quick enough to at least keep pace...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. Makes you wonder what's next....
jet 11:21 a.m. Steve, What is your favorite destination rooftop in the metro? The OKC Museum of Art?, Café Do Brasil? Even Nonna’s?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Of those three, I'd say the rooftop at the OKC Museum of Art is my absolute favorite.
Sara 11:22 a.m. Steve, since the park designers aren't interested in recycling parts of Stage Center, would it be possible to auction off the various pods? Maybe the proceeds could go to the Arts Council? Some one super creative might be able to make some mini-shops or studios out of them.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. From what I'm hearing, this is a possibility. But the destruction is no longer a sure thing until the appeal by Preservation Oklahoma is heard by the Board of Adjustment.
shawnw 11:23 a.m. Follow up to the Devon parking question... instead of building more parking for more Devon employees to drive downtown, would there be ANY chance of Devon doing a Project180 style deal with the city to encourage them to push a portion of the streetcar up (with obvious design changes) so that employees in the core could take transit to Devon instead of their cars? Seems like that could be done maybe a little faster than approving/building several more garages...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. I don't know.
George 11:23 a.m. Steve who would you rather be stuck on a desert island with, Ed Shadid or im pei?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. I suspect you're asking this question with some sort of negative connotation attached, but quite honestly, they're both pretty bright guys who I'd be glad to converse with. I'd have to pick I.M. Pei - he's one of the last living legends in the architectural and planning world and still active in his 90s.
Guest 11:25 a.m. Steve, back when the rumors of Costco at Memorial and Western began, you mentioned your sources were telling you that Costco was once associated but was now no longer interested in that location due to Sam's Club opening in Edmond and that they were looking at other sites. Certain people are insistent though that Costco is still on for Memorial and Western. Are your sources still pointing to Costco no longer being associated with the Western/Memorial development and therefore looking at other sites?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. I've not spoken to my sources since fall on this question, but I've heard nothing that indicates a Costco is still in the works for Memorial and Penn.
Amaury 11:26 a.m. Hi,I am not sure it is your business, but last year the OKC tennis center announced an Extension\upgrade plan. The main point was to build indoor tennis courts. But so far no sign of life when this was announced to open this spring...
Aaron 11:26 a.m. To your knowledge, was Kimray ever interested in a downtown headquarters?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. They are more industrial in nature, so I doubt that would have been a consideration.
Anthony 11:27 a.m. Is the thing that Dallas will be jealous over retail or entertainment related?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. Both.
Sara 11:27 a.m. hehehe, Steve, if you are a won't be able to retire! :) Me neither though!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. Well yeah, that's why it's such a bold claim. I don't believe it myself.
Jeff 11:28 a.m. Who are the top 5 people that deserve the most praise for OKC and what it's become? Would Ron Norick be #1 because of MAPS?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. The top two would be Ron Norick and the late ad man, chamber chairman Ray Ackerman. Norick showed leadership when it was needed most while Ackerman's enthusiasm and vision drove the chamber to be the partner the city needed in getting the city on its way. Kirk Humphreys isn't credited enough for the heavy lifting he did to "Finish MAPS right," bringing the Skirvin back to life, and most notably, launching MAPS for Kids. Clay Bennett and Mick Cornett were key to getting the Thunder and the NBA. Take away any of these five players, and we are a very different city.
Now that said, I hate creating lists like this. Each and every one of these men will argue they didn't accomplish these things on their own, that many others were involved behind the scenes. But if you insist on a list, that's my list.
George 11:35 a.m. Steve have you made your pitch to Aubrey about moving American energy downtown once they out grow their current building? Sounds like a great core to shore opportunity!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. I'm sure Aubrey McClendon is quite capable of figuring out his future without my input.
Anthony 11:35 a.m. How have there been no condo developments north of the river downtown? Is something holding this up?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. It will come...
Guest 11:36 a.m. How do you think the new apartments at 10th and Shartel will impact Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. The new apartments will spur further retail and commercial development in the nearby area.
Ed j. 11:36 a.m. Steve what is the time for the street car being built?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. If I recall correctly, work is set to begin next year.
BethanySooner 11:37 a.m. I noticed that money was allocated for the repair/redevelopment of several alleyways on the blocks south of Saint Anthony Hospital. Are you aware of a timeline to add sidewalks and perhaps streetscaping to this area as well?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Additional streetscaping is discussed in the Midtown urban renewal plan completed last year, but I am not aware of it being funded yet.
soonerred 11:38 a.m. Would you ever be able to freely discuss the impact opuco had on demolishing okc. hard to be excited about them coming back.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. If you are wanting to learn more about the Urban Renewal era of the 1960s and 1970s, you can read my book "OkC Second Time Around."
Amaury 11:38 a.m. I moved to OKC from Europe almost seven years ago. The city transformation is incredible and exciting, but like me do you think Shadid, if he was elected, can "stop" the downtown momentum ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. I think Ed Shadid and Mick Cornett are both intelligent, good-hearted men who have very different visions of how to lead Oklahoma City. Your question is something that is best left to be answered by the voters.
Chad 11:39 a.m. Steve, doesn't Top Golf's proposed location in North OKC prove that suburban sprawl will continue to inhibit downtown OKC's "renaissance"?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. No. I think it could actually create some stability in the area along Memorial and off-set the questions I posed earlier in this chat about nearby apartment clusters. A healthy city, I think, can support both urban and suburban development. Also, this project isn't really on the fringe. It actually is close to an area of Western Avenue (Memorial to Hefner) that was skipped over for development in the 1970s and 1980s - likely a legacy of the "white flight" that occurred with city schools during that era.
Ed j. 11:43 a.m. Is the Oklahoman still planning on moving into the new place by September? What are you most looking forward to about the new place? Will you actually spend time at your office now? I'm sure the beatnix crew is a little concerned you may have to move ok central HQ
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. That's the schedule. I hope the bosses won't get upset if I suggest that any construction schedule is likely to be stretched out a couple months longer than promised.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. My love of Beatnix, however, will not end with The Oklahoman moving downtown. Beatnix will remain a favorite spot for me to work and meet people.
Guest 11:45 a.m. Why dont my questions show?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. What question have you posted that hasn't been answered?
Ed j. 11:45 a.m. Steve I am confused, is the old Santa Monica Ferris wheel going into union park or not?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. The Ferris Wheel was bought by the Humphreys family for their development at the old Downtown Airpark. It was never intended for the city's new Core to Shore Park (what you're referring to as Union park).
Downtown Sally 11:46 a.m. Disagree "Guest." the current park design is awful and no thought put into the maintenance issues etc. Classic example of lack of input from experts!! IMHO
Jay 11:46 a.m. Could smaller-scaled Wal-Mart of Target be viable in Downtown or BT area?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. Maybe.
John 11:47 a.m. Steve, a few months back I think there was discussion of some soil samples being taken at the old Bank of America drive in. You don't do soil samples without some plan in mind, is this project moving forward? Any insight?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. Soil samples are frequently a sign that a development is imminent.
Ed j. 11:47 a.m. Steve I know you are not the biggest fan of the current park design. If you were able to sit down with Hargeaves what revisions would you suggest?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. That's not my role, and I doubt it would matter.
BethanySooner 11:49 a.m. I am of the opinion that the park design was 'dumbed down' in their effort to make it as self-sustaining as possible, ie low maintenance. I also noticed that it was mentioned in one of the bullet points that things could easily be added later - of course at more cost. I just see no other reasonable explanation for such a bland design. Could you do a little digging to see what expectations were set by the City to get the final design we now have?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. Do we assume expectations were really set?
Amaury 11:50 a.m. Capitol Hill\Commerce street seems cleaner lately. Any project south of the river which could give inner South OKC some attraction ? The new soccer stadium would be great on the south bank with a view on the skyline
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. I think Capitol Hill is within a few years of seeing something great take place.
Ed j. 11:50 a.m. How are things going for the urban pioneers in classsn10penn?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. Fine as far as I hear.
Ed j. 11:50 a.m. Also I really enjoyed your twitter discussion about gentrification. A certain mayoral candidate may want to read that.
Susan 11:50 a.m. Any updates on Tower Theater potential renovations? The Rise and Gold Dome renovation progress? A more pedestrian friendly 23rd St?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. Renovations continue at The Rise and the Gold Dome. I can't predict what will happen with the Tower Theater.
Guest 11:51 a.m. Does Ed Shadid have plans to halt core development if elected?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. That is a question you should ask Shadid.
Sara 11:51 a.m. If the Broadway parking is wildly successful, will it speed up getting parking modernized on other streets. I am thinking Walnut through Deep Deuce is the perfect candidate!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. I am not sure about Walnut, but Bricktown may certainly benefit from this change.
Guest 11:52 a.m. when can we expect an announcement about Trader Joes?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. My sources say it shouldn't be too much longer.
Felicity 11:52 a.m. Why are we getting ANOTHER burger joint so close to S&B Burger? I've heard that the lower level of 1117 N. Robinson Ave. is going to be The Garage.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:53 a.m. Yep, that space will be home to the Garage, and renovations are underway. The market will answer your question.
Susan 11:53 a.m. Once the Tower Theater is finally renovated, what building in the uptown district do you think would have potential add to the district and what would you do with the building?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:54 a.m. The old Citizen's bank building across from Pizza 23 had incredible potential. But I defer to architects and developers far more talented than myself as to how to best adapt it to modern use.
John 11:54 a.m. Do you think a person like Steve Mason would look at tackling the Farmers Market area?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:54 a.m. That would be cool. I don't know though...
Sara 11:54 a.m. Another major issue for families also is the lack of daycare options in downtown. The elementary school covers a short time frame for families who want to really create a life downtown.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. I suspect the market will address this in the near future.
Guest 11:55 a.m. Where would you consider to be the best Downtown nightlife spot to see a very diverse crowd?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. Let's expand this to the urban core... and my answer is Grandad's on NW 23.
shawnw 11:55 a.m. Didn't realize Pei was still alive. Any chance you could interview him for an OKC then and now type of book or article?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Oh, how I've tried over the years. I went to great lengths to get an interview with Pei for my first book "OKC Second Time Around." Sadly, his office had no interest in even entertaining the idea.
Ed j. 11:57 a.m. Steve how to get a 'source'? Do people approach you about giving up information or do you just boldly go up and ask them?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. I've been at The Oklahoman for 24 years. I've been covering downtown since 1996. I've worked hard to build relationships, show I can be trusted, and do the research needed to get a good grasp of what I cover. I learned from those who are no longer with us - legends like Ray Ackerman and John Belt, and eyewitnesses to history to like Sue Horton, widow of Bricktown founder Neal Horton.
Ed j. 11:59 a.m. Steve do you think Johanasen built stage center with the purpose of pissing people off in okc?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. No. But he didn't mind being unpopular with locals either.
Anthony 11:59 a.m. Follow up: would the entertainment portion be classified as a drinking establishment? Would the retail portion be multi storied?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. If this becomes a reality, it's far more diverse and bigger than what you're trying to envision.
Nick 12:00 p.m. Is the preftakes block merely going to wind up a parking garage block for devon?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. I doubt it.
John 12:00 p.m. What are some good books on Oklahoma City's history in addition to your own?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Urban Builder, biography of Stanley Draper, and the great book "And Satan Came Also ..." which was republished with a great running connotation (think VH-1 pop-ups) by my friend and historian Buddy Johnson.
Guest 12:02 p.m. I think a healthy city has both an attractive downtown and attractive suburbs. I don't think it's fair to pit one against the other. I personally don't want to see OKC's suburban areas rot away while downtown gentrifies so I am happy to see all the development along Memorial.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. I agree.
Guest 12:02 p.m. What are the Humphreys up to? Will they be linked to a big project in the next year or two?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. Blair Humphreys is taking charge of the Downtown Airpark project while Grant Humphreys is continuing to develop Carlton Landing in Eufaula.
Mark 12:03 p.m. Do you see ant future growth with bushiness, bars, restaurants in the Western Ave district area from nw 50th to 36th st?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:03 p.m. Sure!
Jon S. 12:03 p.m. Thanks again for hosting the live chat Steve. When will GE break ground for their new research center?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:03 p.m. This April.
Motley 12:03 p.m. I am contemplating moving back to OKC after many years in CA. What do you mean by Memorial turning into another NW Expressway or Lyrewood? Seems all the housing is going on N. of Memorial
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. You have a large cluster of apartments along Memorial Road south of Quail Springs Mall built in the 1980s where we are already seeing an alarming number of violent crimes. The area has no sidewalks even though it is on a MetroTransit bus route and is close to hundreds if not thousands of service and retail jobs. Meanwhile, more clusters of apartments are being built north of Memorial, and I'll leave it to others to say whether those are being built for quick flips or as sustainable long term investments.
Guest 12:06 p.m. They need to find a spot for SkyBox on the river
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. That would be cool.
John 12:06 p.m. Steve, how often have you been given false/misleading information about a project by a developer? If and when it happens are you more cautious is working with that source? What steps do you take to make sure you don't come across and falsely reporting something?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:10 p.m. It happens. Sometimes I purposely delay reporting on a development because I have doubts or unanswered questions as to whether it's a real deal. What I'm noticing now is that developers who were more likely to attempt this sort of campaign (it's usually aimed at generating buzz and attracting investors) are shifting their efforts to social media and web sites that are not traditional news sources and where rumors are hyped without attribution. This means some stuff you might hear or see in this fashion may indeed come true, but there's also a greater chance the information might be wrong.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:11 p.m. I've also seen developers engage in this sort of tactic to try to preempt or upset deals being attempted by competitors.
Ladd 12:11 p.m. Is Cabela's actually planning on coming to OKC or is this just rumor for the moment?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:11 p.m. It's a rumor, but it wouldn't shock me if it came true. I think it's more likely for the Western and Memorial site than the Costco.
Ed j. 12:11 p.m. Steve do you know when fassler hall and the dust bowl are going to be completed?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. This next year.
Guest 12:12 p.m. The Garage opens in late March
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. Thanks Guest. I know renovations at 1017 N Robinson for The Garage have been underway for several weeks.
Mark 12:12 p.m. Cafe Nova on Western closed...Have you heard if anything new is going in there
Steve Lackmeyer 12:12 p.m. Nope
Sally 12:13 p.m. It's January 31st, will the Aloft Open today as Jim Thompson said it would? When do you expect the Grand Opening to be?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:13 p.m. Obviously not.
Matthew 12:13 p.m. Steve - you check out the CNU podcasts ,Jeff Speck is the newest one on Wed.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:13 p.m. Will do.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:14 p.m. OK, folks. I know quite a few questions are still in the cue, but I have to go now! 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...
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