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OKC Central Chat transcript, July 26, 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: July 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm •  Published: July 26, 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.

Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. Test, test, test....
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. OK, let Jason enjoy his morning at Waffle House. Let's talk.... MYSTERY TOWER!
Gary T 10:03 a.m. Good morning Steve! Thanks again as always for doing these chats. I would also like to say that I miss your informative posts on I understand your reasoning for wanting to distant yourself from it considering all the personal attacks you were taking on. I hope to see you on there again in a larger capacity maybe when things calm down a little. Now, a couple of Mystery Tower questions: 1) Since Rainey Williams (the person who bought Stage Center) is also a Director of OGE Enogex GP, LLC, is it safe to say the anchor tenant discussed in the article will either be OGE or the Enogex/Centerpoint entity?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Thanks Gary. No, it's not safe to assume the tower anchor will be associated with OG&E, Enogex or Centerpoint. It's possible. But as I've said before, there are a lot of missing pieces. Consider what I've told you before; in March a completely different developer was on the verge of getting this contract for the Stage Center property. It was not a reflection on that developer that the deal fell through. He had other tenants lined up, and it is still quite possible he may build a tower elsewhere downtown. In the meantime, let my article sink in - this tower is being built by Rainey Williams, not OG&E, not Enogex, not Centerpoint. Could any mix of these three end up as tenants? Maybe. But don't make any assumptions. As for those who question whether Rainey Williams is just a front, and question his capacity for doing this development, well, you don't know Rainey Williams.
Gary T 10:08 a.m. 2) You said in a previous chat that once this one was announced, speculation would be begin on another one. Do you see the Enogex entity occupying this one and OGE building their own down the road?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. When all of the questions about the Stage Center site are answered, we will still have a "mystery tower" to discuss. I have very good sources who tell me yet another deal on a different site in the works. Williams knows this. Other players do too. And they're not worried.
Will 10:09 a.m. Not to be overshadowed by the exciting mystery tower news today, what shouldn't be left out is the fact that the Film Exchange Building has 30 days to find a buyer and to determine its future on the Park site. What are your thoughts and best idea for a new purpose for the 90 year old structure? I think a welcome center and museum would be a good fit since it is so close to the arena. A dedicated OKC history museum to compliment the OHC at the Capitol.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. The Film Exchange Building has more than 30 days, but, yes, this 90-year-old building in Core to Shore is being targeted for demolition by the city and planners of the Core to Shore park. I'm not sure what developers were contacted by Mary Margaret Jones at Hargreaves Associates, but I've already heard from one very accomplished developer who definitely has the capacity to take on this property and he's very interested.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. I'm waiting for Jones to prove to me they made a sincere effort to find a developer for the old Film Exchange building.
RainyDay 10:11 a.m. The article about retail yesterday was a real tease. Can you give us any of the big name retailers alluded to in the article?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. Real Estate Editor Richard Mize did a great job with that story. The only information I think I can add is that Costco and Trader Joe's remain interested in Oklahoma City.
RainyDay 10:12 a.m. Any news about progress with Nichols Hills Plaza and the Classen Curve vacancies? I'm getting worried that my neighborhood shopping center is destined to be pawn shops and cash advance stores.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. Developers have pitched deals for the properties. But I'm told Chesapeake suddenly doesn't seem in a rush to sell. I don't know why.
Tiffany 10:13 a.m. How much money would it cost to save the Film Exchange buildings at Central Park.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. I don't know. I doubt anyone does.
Gary T 10:14 a.m. It really frustrates me that Larry Nichols doesn't like the streetcar lines overhead. He says "a noisy, ugly streetcar may be a detriment to areas". I would rather have lines overhead powering a seemingly quiet streetcar than noisy, ugly buses running all over downtown. The trains running parallel to EK Gaylord make more noise than theses things. Do you think his opinions will sway the decision to do something else in the way of transit? By the way, here is a good video of how "ugly and noisy" those pesky streetcars can be...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. I don't know. That story drew a lot of heat from all sides, and I'm sticking by it. A conversation likely needs to take place. For what it's worth, I think the bigger threat to the streetcar system being built comes from a member or two of the city council, and not Nichols.
Gary T 10:15 a.m. It looks like the city recently commissioned a feasibility study for the Adventure District rail line. What is the time frame in terms of when a decision will be made on which option they are going to use, when they would start work and how long it would take?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. The city council has to do something with that study other than read it and say "thank you." If that's all they do, this idea remains just that.
Nick 10:16 a.m. Also, I really enjoyed your article about the plans for Stage Center's site! Very exciting times! Are you prepared to start talking about Mystery Tower #2 yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. Yes.
RainyDay 10:16 a.m. Do you think that the use of Taft stadium for professional soccer will have any impact on that area of May Avenue? Could it lead to redevelopment of worn out business locations to provide new restaurants, bars,etc. to accommodate fans before and after games?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. No. As long as you have two soccer teams being started up by two camps (Brad Lund and the Funk family) with a years-long blood feud going on, I need to be convinced how this whole effort won't end up a failure. Oklahoma City needs a pro-soccer team, I hear from a lot of people it can support a pro-soccer team. So why are two different camps attempting this? Is it greed? Hatred? Vengeance? Unless one gives up and lets the other proceed, how can this end up being a success?
Ronaldo 10:19 a.m. How can we save the Film Exchange Buildings? There have been a few people at the meetings trying to save them, but very few people supporting them. The MAPS 3 Park Subcommittee talked for an hour on how to buy Union Station to make it a money generator, and then voted to tear down the Film Exchange buildings. How do they not see, they have a money generator and a place that can be in stage 1 of the park phasing for money generation. These two buildings can be saved and provide a contingency plan for small events in the park that get rained or winded out.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Well, first of all, a half-baked pitch by folks with no money and no experience in development or historic building preservation will only hurt the cause. Residents do need to contact council members. The design community can create concepts to consider. And folks are going to have to be vigilant in making sure the city doesn't use passive aggressive maneuvers to scare away legitimate developers (one has already contacted me this morning).
Tmac 10:21 a.m. Will there be a ikea or a container store coming to the Okc metro?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. We've heard for a couple years The Container Store is interested. Not so much with Ikea.
Ronaldo 10:21 a.m. When is the next meeting the city or Maps is having on the Film Exchange or Central Park?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. Sometime in August.
Nick 10:22 a.m. What's your best guess for the tenant of the new tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. I've avoided the embarrassment suffered today by other folks online by not making such outright speculation. To quote one person who commented online today, "My sources say other sources have egg all over their face."
RainyDay 10:23 a.m. Glad to see the tower finally announced. Was I correct in understanding that there is already and anchor tenant in negotiations?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Yes. Williams is actually in talks with several perspective tenants.
M6 10:24 a.m. Steve, any cool new restaurants or bars that might be opening soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Yes.
Guest 10:24 a.m. What does the Oklahoma City Community Foundation have to say about the sale? Any information about how the funds will be used?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Calling them after this chat.
RainyDay 10:24 a.m. Is there any chance that preservation groups could scuttle the new tower with some "Save Stage Center" campaign as they did with the Gold Dome? I would love to see both of those hunks of junk torn down and replaced with something of architectural beauty.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Anything is possible. But they've got a tough case to make in convincing the Downtown Design Review Committee that there is a way to redevelop this property.
Ray 10:25 a.m. So, if this Mystery Tower is not OGE..... Does that many they are still in the works for a new tower..... Please say yes!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Yes. No. Maybe.
BethanySooner 10:26 a.m. A very good morning, Steve. Mystery Tower I is still somewhat of a mystery, not knowing who, what kind, or how tall. Since you have seen this evolving for sometime, are you somewhat surprised at the outcome as far as it being built as a spec tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. No, not at all. If you go back through past chats, I've tried to hint at this for a while. Nothing in today's story surprised me. That's why answering all these questions over the past couple of months has been so difficult. Everyone was assuming this would be another Devon style project, where the occupant builds the tower and is the sole occupant. And all questions were being thought up based on this assumption. People kept asking about OG&E and Enogex, and asking about the delays. I responded this is a very complex real estate transaction, and not at all what people were expecting. This is what I meant.
Guest 10:28 a.m. Any feedback on the new River Music Venue? Do you see it as a long term stay?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. No, I've been pretty swamped. I don't know about staying power. Kirk Humphreys want to develop the former downtown airpark site.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Folks, forgive me. I need three-minute break. Must get Aspirin for terrible headache.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. OK....
Gary T 10:33 a.m. When will we see renderings of Level East?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. It might be a while.... don't assume that's McKown's next project. I'll have an update soon to explain more.
Gary T 10:34 a.m. When is construction expected to start on the new Police station downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. I think it starts up in a couple months.
Gary T 10:34 a.m. Ground has already broken for the Main Street parking garage and the Bricktown parking garage is being hit with some scrutiny due to it blocking off the Adventure District rail line. Are you aware of any more parking garages (not connected to mystery towers) being proposed for the downtown area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. Yeah, that Main Street garage is really needed by the Central Business District, and without it, it looks like some firms won't be able to move downtown. But at the same time, the transit advocates argue the site is needed for a spur that will be needed for the Adventure Line (which could certainly become a reality) regional commuter rail (which could happen in the next decade) and high-speed rail (which has NO support by key lawmakers at the state and federal level).
KB 10:36 a.m. It may be far too early to tell, but what are the chances of having some of Stage Center's architectural elements worked into the new not-so-mysterious tower? Is there an equivalent to the Bricktown design review for the CBD?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. I don't know if that's even possible. And yes, the central business district is governed by the Downtown Design Review Committee.
Gary T 10:37 a.m. When will we see progress on Robert Meinders 211 NE 4th street property?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Hard to say. He cleaned up some of the brush. I didn't sense he was very ambitious about the whole deal.
A. Martin 10:38 a.m. So now that Mystery Tower #1 is out of the way, how long until Mystery Tower #2?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. Don't be surprised if we begin to see some definite details come out on Mystery Tower 2 within the next year. And yeah, there is a mystery tower 2.
James 10:38 a.m. In your recent article about the "mystery tower" it's stated it will be at least 20 stories, possibly higher. Even if it's unlikely, is there any chance we could get something close to Devon's height?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Fifty stories? Meh... I don't think so. But don't be surprised if this one ends up at 28 to 30 stories high.
A. Martin 10:39 a.m. Will the new tower take up the entire block from Reno to Sheridan/Hudson to Walker?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. No. The tower will occupy the Stage Center site only.
BethanySooner 10:39 a.m. Do you see this tower opening the floodgates for potential businesses that have been wanting to get into OKC for sometime now? Also, soon to come online are the Braniff, the Parkside, and Rick Dowell's Building.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Yes, if parking supply can be increased.
A. Martin 10:40 a.m. Any lead architects on the new tower at this point? Do they have a design in mind?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Not that we know of.
Jason 10:40 a.m. Thanks for putting up with all the grief and tower speculation. I'm glad it's finally out there. Now I can give a little grief and say I'm a little disappointed that it's a 20-story mixed office building instead of the skyscraping, single-tenant, corporate headquarters with a thousand new jobs I was hoping for in such a prime location. 20 stories is like the old Devon building at 20NB that Continental is already busting out of. Heck, the DEC was filled practically before Devon even opened so they're overflowing into Corporate Tower. Oh well...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. It's not a 20-story building anymore than Devon Energy Center ended up being a 34-story building. Remember, part of this process is not setting expectations too high. Under promise, over deliver, and you have a happy audience.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. Also, my sources tell me this building will have a much wider mass....
Shawn 10:42 a.m. What's the latest news about Uptown 23rd? Anything new happening or opening?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Yes. There's an 80s-retro pub being planned, and work has started on The Rise.
Grannie Dee 10:43 a.m. Hurray! Tower mystery is revealed.
BethanySooner 10:43 a.m. Was the California easement actually part of the purchase price, or is there just the need by the developer to know that the city wouldn't try to come in later and put a street through that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. The latter.
Damon 10:43 a.m. Steve, love your work. Now that we know what's happening at Stage Center, do you anticipate anything happening with the McAlpine Center and Arts Council buildings next door? There are several nonprofit arts agencies in those buildings and I'm curious if those sites will be swallowed up by the new tower.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. I think that's one of the unresolved questions still out there.
J. 10:43 a.m. What's the latest on Trader Joe's?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. I don't know.
Kevin D. 10:44 a.m. Is this announcement connected to OGE/CP/ enogex? Or does this mean we should see another major annoucement for another tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. We don't know yet.
Gary T 10:44 a.m. When asked why there is such a push for the boulevard to expedite cars out of downtown, your answer was that the planning was done by engineers, not planners (or something like that). If the city and ODOT see that there are people who oppose it, why aren't there more planners hired to look at it than engineers?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. Because ODOT and City Hall leadership are dominated by engineers.
Nick 10:45 a.m. Steve, what do you think is going to happen to the site just south of the Stage Center? Is that opening up for development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. That area is home to the Oklahoma City Arts Council. Are you wanting to see them evicted?
Guest 10:46 a.m. Is Oklahoma City realistically looking at other towers being announced this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. This year? I don't know. But certainly within the next year.
Chris 10:46 a.m. I am trying to get an idea of how a 20 story tall building will fit into the downtown landscape. Can you give me an idea of other similar size building downtown? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. Floor to ceiling heights are much greater than they were 20 years ago. So my estimate is that a 25-story tower might be as high as Chase Tower.
BethanySooner 10:47 a.m. Regarding a potential Mystery Tower II, are the most likely sites the Preftakes block, Robert S Kerr & Hudson, and the southern half of the newly announced tower site?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. We are looking at the Preftakes properties being the likely home for a mystery tower 2.
Shawn 10:48 a.m. Do you have an update on the renovation plans for the Gold Dome?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. It's on my list.
Damon 10:48 a.m. Are there any plans in the next decade or so to extend development between Lincoln and Martin Luther King along Reno? I think I've heard of some, but would love to see more. That stretch of road is a main entrance to downtown from the east and it could use some work.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. There are a lot of contaminated sites on that stretch. But that's what brownfields money is for. So yeah, if the current development trends continue, I can see that happening in the next decade or so
Mick 10:49 a.m. Steve, what kind of 1) Restaurant and 2) Bar would you like to see in one of the entertainment districts in OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I want to see an Alamo Draft House cinema either in the Tower Theater of the old MidTown theater across from the Sieber.
vowl 10:52 a.m. Fun week
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Yeah.
Ashley 10:52 a.m. Please share your thoughts on the new Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Campus. The building is not on a bus route, which makes it difficult for the people who it is meant for to get there. Will the city be adding that building to a bus route?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. It makes no sense to me how these things are being planned without bus service. Ditto for the new home of the Social Security office.
Ray 10:53 a.m. What is the status of 600 W. Sheridan? Did it get approved? Will it have to be three stories?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. 600 W Sheridan was approved, it is a go at two stories high.
TheBishop 10:53 a.m. I think that if OKC wants to be ahead of the curve with attracting more businesses, and millennials, and reducing “brain drain” we should be pushing for fiber internet. Thoughts?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Sounds good to me.
Waffleton 10:53 a.m. When do you think the area around the new central park will start to see major developments? Will developers wait until construction on the park is started?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Yes.
Mick 10:54 a.m. What is the biggest hurdle that the light rail system faces?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. That there is no light rail system! Seriously, what is planned for Oklahoma City is a streetcar system. And the biggest hurdle, based on everything I've heard and observed, is Ed Shadid. He is very emphatic that this system not harm the city's bus system.
BethanySooner 10:55 a.m. Potential district housing 'game-changers'/catalysts: Level-Deep Deuce, The Edge-Midtown, Bricktown East-BT, and lately Metropolitan-Automobile Alley. Is there anything of this magnitude in the planning stages for the Arts District that could have a profound effect on that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Yep.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. If you knew all that I'm tracking, all that was possible, it would boggle your mind. I know, because my mind is boggled. It's crazy out there.
Mick 10:56 a.m. Do you think the light rail system would be better as an at grade system or elevated system through certain parts of the downtown area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. It has to be at grade. Elevated would be far more expensive.
Jon 10:56 a.m. Now is the time for you to spill your beans............
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. I spilled them. What more do you want from me!?
Landman 10:57 a.m. Thanks for all the great work that you do! Every morning I hope you have a new article posted. With that being said I've noticed on a few issues, IMO you seem to oppose other viewpoints such as a downtown grocery store or family entertainment options. You mention Native Roots (I love what they bring downtown) and seem to not want a second grocery store downtown? Do you think the market can't support two grocery stores downtown, or is there another reason you don't push for more options downtown? Is there any chance a Super Target could be included in the new tower? Downtown Minneapolis has a super target and it's been very successful.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I don't oppose other viewpoints at all. I just point out that bringing in a second small grocery right now could damage the existing one. As for a Super Target, anything is possible right now.
Lance 10:58 a.m. Steve, I will spare you from another tower question by asking if you have heard anything concrete regarding Ruth's Chris coming to Classen Curve. In terms of food I'm sure we have better steaks in OKC currently but in terms of image it has to say something about where OKC is headed to pull in this type of restaurant.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. It's a rumor out there. I think Oklahoma City can support it.
Jake 10:58 a.m. How was the concert at the downtown air park last night
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I don't know. I was working.
guy 10:59 a.m. My wife and i just visited old town Wichita last weekend--it's awesome. i'm hoping Bricktown can become more like it. Have you ever been there? And do you see Bricktown developing its level of pedestrian-friendliness and uniform decor? Old Town Wichita has very narrow streets, tons of public parking, and even the alleyways have some store fronts or patios or stoops to residential buildings.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Yes, I've been to Wichita, and I wish that all of the movers and shakers in Bricktown would visit the old town there to understand just how much they've not done, how much can easily be done, to make Bricktown a far better experience than it is now.
Jon 10:59 a.m. With the announcement of mystery tower #1, do you see other developement starting to come out in a faster pace?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Yes
Dave C 11:00 a.m. Hey Steve! Can you please give us an update on the new downtown park? Is all property-acquisition complete and when might ground-breaking actually happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I believe all the property is acquired. Construction won't begin until next year.
Ray 11:00 a.m. What are your view on the Mystery Tower... Will it be a true spec tower or will it be for one company? The city needs office space with parking to continue to grow and thrive and attract small companies to the core.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. No, it won't be a true spec tower. It will likely be an anchored tower with additional space available for lease.
Kevin D. 11:01 a.m. Can we expect people to chain themselves to that eyesore when they attempt to tear down the stage center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. I don't know.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. Folks, be aware, I'm capping this chat at 11:30 a.m.
Ray 11:02 a.m. Will there be an official announcement on the tower today or next week?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Did you not ready my story today? it's official now.
Guest 11:02 a.m. I am already hearing a lot of tension regarding the demolition of the Stage Center and a lot of people are upset about it. Is this project safe from the inevitable lawsuits that will be coming to try to prevent demolition?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. There will be protests. But I see no way for there to be lawsuits.
Momentum 11:02 a.m. When can we expect to see some drawings of how the building will look?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Within 90 days.
Ray 11:03 a.m. Are rumors about Chesapeake selling buildings to MidFirst Bank/Midand Mortgage true or rumors?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Just rumors.
Damon 11:03 a.m. Are you aware of any discusssions to create a nonprofit conservancy similar to what exists with Central Park or Golden Gate Park to support and maintain the proposed central park in OKC? Perhaps the Myriad Gardens Foundation would take this on?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Yes. The Myriad Gardens Foundation is struggling to keep up with the Myriad Gardens. They're not eager to take on the Core to Shore park. And, consider this; how can the Core to Shore park survive on the same program revenues and community support now going to the Myriad Gardens without hurting the Myriad Gardens? Where is the constituency for the Core to Shore park?
vowl 11:05 a.m. On a serious note, I am very glad that on N. Western near Briton the city is actually putting in sidewalks. This is a heavy area for foot traffic.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. Last week you did an article referencing the Preftakes block and leases being up in April of 2014. Can we expect an announcement possibly for redevelopment by the end of the year?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Never know.
Michael 11:05 a.m. Will you provide a rundown of MT2 today? Size, occupant, location, timeline?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. No. You guys are greedy, needy and demanding. I give mystery tower, and you're now wanting every detail on mystery tower 2.
James 11:06 a.m. What do you know about Mystery Tower #2 that you're willing to share? I understand this is speculation, but I still would like an informed opinion. Is there a deal for a specific location in the works? And if so, do you think we'd *possibly* be looking at another tower at least 20 stories?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. It's very likely to happen.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Here's something that will really drive you guys crazy.... I'm starting to see hints that there maybe a mystery tower 3 in the works.....
Naddy Lite 11:07 a.m. Did you know the Neighborhood Lounge is opening a kitchen and got their permit approved to build a patio?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Awesome!
Guest 11:07 a.m. Steve, should we be worried about the future of the International Harvester Building? Is it also being targeted for demolition? I don't know, but it would be prudent to try and get out ahead of some of this if possible.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Yes.
Guest 11:08 a.m. Is an attempt by Rainy and the Voss family to rehabilitate their name. We already have one large dark tower they are responsible for the demise of. Do we need to mark them for the loss of an international architectural gem as well.
Guest 11:08 a.m. It amazes me how the city doesn't look at San Diego's balboa park with a museum located in the middle. Why not use the Film Exhange buildings as the same?
Deucer 11:08 a.m. Richard McKown announced the new burger restaurant in Level a long time ago. Do you know when they plan to start building out the space? I'm hungry.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. Yeah!
Nick O. 11:08 a.m. Do you think that OKC suffers from too many different districts trying to do their own thing? It seems to me that it would be better if they all pooled their resources and did one or two events a month rather than the 3-4 we currently have.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. They're coordinating. And so far it seems to be all working ok.
Nick O. 11:09 a.m. Have you gottena chance to check out the Peloton Wine Bar behind Sclegels yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. Not yet.
Richard 11:09 a.m. Im glad you liked my "sources" quote Steve
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. It was the best, most dead-on observation I saw in that whole conversation. You are quite astute.
Guest 11:10 a.m. What location is your best guess for mystery tower #2? Additionally what height could you expect from that tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Preftakes block. Higher than two stories.
Guest 11:10 a.m. What is the extent of your knowledge on the new mystery tower
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. Mystery tower 2? Enough to know it's definitely in the works. But assumptions to date on that site, much like with the Stage Center site, may be all wrong.
OKCJ 11:11 a.m. I'd be curious if OCCF funds from sale would support other or new cultural facilities. The studies of Stage Center made clear the need for mid-sized performance spaces in OKC.
Nick 11:12 a.m. You (may have been someone else) said that this tower was going to be a local company consolidating local employees. Is that still the case?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. That was someone else. Just part of the rumor mill.
Guest 11:13 a.m. Possible locations for Mystery Tower II?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. Preftakes block
vowl 11:13 a.m. People don't understand that this City doesn't have the population to support the Stage Center. It will be sad to see it go, but how can you justify needed repairs with huge costs for a venue that only 20 or 30 people will visit regularly. It will sorely be missed in 50 years, but can't survive in the present.
East of the Tracks 11:13 a.m. Do you think there will be any push-back on the Bomasada project not having any ground floor retail space? OKC is too much on the right track to not be promoting mixed use development.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. No. It's across from Ninth Street.
Guest 11:14 a.m. "Williams is actually in talks with several perspective tenants."
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. Yes.
Nick 11:14 a.m. Can we get an update with Kirk about his plans for the downtown airpark site?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. sure
Brian 11:14 a.m. "Williams is actually in talks with several perspective tenants." Prospective tenants, Steve. ;)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. Thanks Brian. You try working until 11 p.m. and then getting up for this and typing 80 wpm while coming up with all these answers.... come on, give me a break. ;)
Nick 11:15 a.m. Do you think this spec tower will end up taller than 20 stories?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. yes
Hotel Black 11:15 a.m. Any new information on what 1 N. Hudson will be redeveloped as? I'm hoping residential with the announcement of leasable Class-A office space going in next door.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. Don't be surprised if it's residential
Ray 11:16 a.m. Do you think this deal sets a value on the Convention Center site? Do you think the city can afford the site now using the same calculations per acre? Does the city have a contingency plan on where they will build it if they can't afford Site #1.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. Yeah, it could become an additional comp ... depends on what stage negotiations are at for the convention center site.
HL 11:16 a.m. Steve, thanks for all your hard work on any and all Mystery towers, it's been enjoyable to follow. Based on what you've heard so far, do you have reason to believe the new tower will end up with a few or significantly more than 20 floors?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. More.
OKCUnite 11:17 a.m. Steve, wouldn't you agree that the best place for a soccer stadium would be on the south shore of the river somewhere. Maybe by dell or across from the boathouses. We need something to bridge the divide between s. OKC and n. OKC. I think it would be a great way to bring the city together, that is, of course only if this will be a "Class A" facility.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Yeah.
Ray 11:17 a.m. Are there any plans in Bricktown currently in the works for developing any of the parking lots along the canal or along Reno.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Not so far.
RainyDay 11:17 a.m. What is the Adventure District rail line? Today on your chat is the first I've heard of this. Guess I'm out of touch.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Go to and you'll see the story I had yesterday on the Adventure Line.
Rock 11:17 a.m. Are they building the new police station for future growth or for the now undermanned ranks?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. The current building is an obsolete mess of a structure. It was already bad when I first started as a cop reporter at The Oklahoman in 1990.
Mark 11:18 a.m. Can we stop calling the new parking garage south of city hall the "Main Street Garage"? Because there already is a Main Street Parking Garage connected to the First National Center!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. How about Civic Center garage?
Braden P 11:18 a.m. Good morning Steve! Are you concerned with Larry Nichols comments about the streetcar or do you think that portion of the MAPS3 concept with move along and not be canceled?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. It's part of the debate. Advocates should be more concerned with what might next happen with the city council.
Nick 11:19 a.m. Is Mystery Tower #2 you're hearing rumors about being developed as a spec office building as well? Or is it more of a Devon Tower situation?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. Nope. Not going there yet.
Nick 11:19 a.m. If CHK is not as interested in selling off properties as they once were, does this increase the chances of MidFirst moving downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. There are deals in play that, if they come to fruition, will challenge everyone's assumptions about what's going on in this city. Up is down. Left is right. Blue is yellow. Quit making assumptions based on what you've heard and what you know.
Ray 11:21 a.m. One thing we can assume.... is that there will not be residential or hotel options in the new tower????
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. I guess.
OKCUnite 11:21 a.m. I know you mentioned parking will be included. Is this also on the stage center site, or would this possibly be across the street at preftakes block?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Ah hah.... good question. Now we have someone starting to look at how green might be blue.... who says a garage in that spot couldn't accommodate two towers? I don't know the answer to this. But this is the sort of shift in thinking I'm talking about.
Braden P 11:22 a.m. I still see people driving in the bicycle lanes in downtown. Is it time to paint them green like other cities?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Ask the engineers.... oh wait. No, I take that back....
Guest 11:23 a.m. any chance for housing incorporated in either mystery tower 1 or 2?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. I don't know.
HL 11:23 a.m. With all of this new spec office space coming online or being proposed downtown, do you think the prospect of converting First National to some combination of hotel and residential is becoming more likely.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. More likely if the owners get realistic in what they can do....
Ray 11:23 a.m. Do you see them opening up California for access to the building for trucks and other vehicles to deliver goods/mail?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. I don't know.
Nick 11:23 a.m. Do you think the Bomasada apartment proposal will spur additional housing in the adjacent area?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. yes
Guest 11:24 a.m. GOod morning Steve..A few questions: What are they building just west of Devon's parking garage on Main street (across from Coney Island)? Is that old Santa Monica pier ferris wheel going to make its way down to the river? Finally, you said there are some new restaurants opening up-could you tell us what some of those are?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. A new garage; we don't know; not yet
Dan 11:24 a.m. Steve, what's the oldest building downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. Probably the Hotel Marion.
Austin 11:24 a.m. I would like to see trolleys that look and feel like real trolleys but run on nat gas. Avoid the overhead lines but still hvae the nostalgia
Lucky 11:24 a.m. When will the city Destroy the Stage Center? It's old and outdated and ugly.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. You've read today's paper, right?
Lucky 11:25 a.m. When will the Stage Center be destroyed? I'm anxious!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. Not set yet.
Nick 11:25 a.m. Steve, first want to apologize for beating you up on the streetcar story. Secondly, I was wondering if you could provide some clarification on the setting in which Larry Nichols gave those remarks. What is LN prepared to do about his concerns? In your opinion, does he fully understand the concept of fixed guideway transit (calling it ugly and old fashioned tends to suggest no) or the cost issues
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. Your comments on Twitter calling the story a hit piece really bewildered me. I can tell you that nobody on either side of that issue liked the story. I wrote up both sides. Apology accepted. Nichols is voicing his concerns. I reported those concerns. I think what happens next is as the mayor said, a conversation and some educational efforts.
Josh JF Paston 11:27 a.m. Will WSKY Lounge ever open?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. Yes. I saw them wrapping up some work last night. It should be soon.
Tom 11:28 a.m. OKC Arts Council wouldn't be "evicted," they'd be bought out. With the completion of this new tower their property value just went up considerably, and the property would be too valuable to keep. Plus, there's no guarantee that the Festival of the Arts will remain on South Hudson.
Kelvin 11:28 a.m. Is there any more information on when closures might happen on the I-235/I-44 interchange? I heard that there would be a full freeway closure for I-235 to demolish one of the bridges in the area, but not when.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. I was stuck in a traffic jam at 9 p.m. last night due to closures already taking place at night when the work is being done.
Nick 11:29 a.m. Steve, first I apologize for unfairly beating you up the head over the streetcar article, I was just blindsided and blamed the messenger. Could you tell us the context/setting of the remarks he gave, and what is the most he is prepared to do about his concerns? Do you think it is a wise idea to push back against some of his stature?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Yeah, we're cool. I understand - the streetcar is an emotional topic with a lot of passionate people on both sides of the issue. I don't know what or if Nichols does next. He certainly indicated opposition may be coming forward ...
Barry H. 11:30 a.m. What exactly has Jane Jenkins accomplished for OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Quite a bit.... Downtown OKC Inc. is really doing a lot of great things right now.
Brett Pate 11:30 a.m. The Stage Center is by far my favorite building in OKC, 2nd only to Price Tower in the whole State. I thought city planners/council/leaders were trying to bring culture to OKC with the Onlahoma River, Bricktown, etc. So them allowing the Stage Center to be demolished reveals hypocrisy. They just want to make money and demolish whatever stands in there way.
Barry H. 11:31 a.m. Jane Jenkins spoke at the KOSU On Tap earlier this week and said some really ignorant things about walkability, specifically that we need public education campaigns to teach pedestrians "how to walk" because they get in the way of cars. How can progress be made on walkability across OKC when civic leaders still don't seem to get it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. I wasn't there, so I don't know the context of what was said.
Abby 11:31 a.m. Are we any closer to finding out where GE will be locating their center? Doesn't GE want to get this thing up and running?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Yeah...
Guest 11:31 a.m. Will central park still maintain the street grid cutting across it east to west to maintain connectivity in the area? I'm thinking of how this is achieved with Central Park in NY.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. Not the way it's planned now.
Abby 11:32 a.m. Do you think OKC sees 50% of what you're tracking actually developed?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. Yeah
RainyDay 11:32 a.m. I am getting mixed messages about Ed Shadid. Is he a good thing for our city government and progress, or a hindrance? No one seems to have an opinion one way or the other.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. That's a decision each voter needs to make at next year's mayoral election.
Braden P 11:33 a.m. When will the Contemporary Arts Center start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. It's not funded yet.
Grannie Dee 11:33 a.m. How does Mr. Shadid think the bus system can be harmed? It is poorly run, people wait for hours and when they can catch a bus, it is not going where they need to go. Mr. Shadid needs to study OKC history. In the 20s-30s and even 40s, OKC had a meaningful streetcar line as well a light rail from Norman, through OKC and Edmond to Stillwater. Broadway extension was built on the right of way.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. Why don't you ask him?
missy 11:33 a.m. Is the Greater OKC Chamber going to prop up Jeff Cloud to run for OKC mayor against Ed Shadid?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. That rumor is out there. Mike Turpen even gave a shout out to this effect on last week's episode of Flashpoint.
Nick O. 11:34 a.m. Don't worry about Super Target Steve. Target is not building any more "super" stores, rather just converting parts of their current stores into grocery sections
OKCJ 11:34 a.m. Any thoughts on the Civic Center renovation (and/or study they conducted about needs).
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. They're looking at it
Austin 11:35 a.m. Dang..I sent my question in over 20 minutes ago and never saw it come up. Was wondering what the building across from Coney Island is on Main street...if the old Santa MOnica Pier ferris wheel that an OKC businessman bought a while back is coming to the river and finally, any other restaurant names you can confirm?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. I answered this earlier in the chat
Ashley 11:35 a.m. Any chance something like this would be viable in OKC?
Cuatro 11:35 a.m. Just an observation, but the Myriad Gardens seems to be struggling to maintain what is already has
Nick 11:35 a.m. Are you worried about Mystery Tower #2?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. You crack me up. No, I'm not worried.
Nick 11:35 a.m. Dang it, Steve! Don't tease the unruly masses! MT3?!
Sid 11:36 a.m. We're a needy bunch of followers, Steve. Thanks for your patience. There seems to be so much new development now and on the horizon for downtown. Assuming no major economic downturns, etc., do you think this next 5-10 years could be an era unmatched in the city's history in that regard?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. Those folks are keeping me employed!
It's tough to beat the building sprees we saw in 1910 and 1926-1932... but... yeah, this is a historic era for Oklahoma City.
Landman 11:37 a.m. Steve you are the BEST in OKC media but sometimes I wish I knew your email password.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. Pssstt..... it's "ROSEBUD."
Brian 11:37 a.m. Mystery Tower 3??? Gaah now I am crazy! I demand to know a detailed timeline for it's construction. Do you know how many ceiling tiles will be used? This is important.
Brett pat 11:37 a.m. How much is the estimate to repair te Stage Center?I would rather MAPs money go to that than swimming pool for old people or a new driveway for the Peake.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. At least $20 million
Nick 11:38 a.m. Will MT2 demolish what's currently on that block or build upon the current fabric that sits there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Read Mayor Mick Cornett's comments in my story today... there's a reason he said what he said.
Austin 11:38 a.m. I've also heard rumors of Top Golf making it's way to OKC. Have you heard the same?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Nope.
Nick 11:38 a.m. Is Rick Dowell still planning on some midrise housing at this point?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Yes. On the hill along NW 5
Nick 11:38 a.m. Possible location for MT3?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. Take your best guess.
Damon 11:39 a.m. How is your book on the YMCA coming along? Release date?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. The manuscript is done! It should be out this time next year.
Ray 11:39 a.m. So, when will things slow down so you can take a much needed vacation?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Not soon enough.
Mick 11:39 a.m. Did you say something about an 80's Pub? Where is it going to be located?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. NW 23. I hope to have a story next week.
Guest 11:39 a.m. People from larger cities say there isn't much to do in OKC compared to other major cities. Do you think that statement is valid or do you think it's a marketing problem? How can OKC change the preception that tourist get when they visit OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. To quote the late, great Clara Luper ......
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. BULL CORN!
Damon 11:40 a.m. What's Mark Moore up to these days? Any success getting your dream interview with him?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. I'm likely to win a lottery first.
QuestionsUnanswered 11:40 a.m. I've asked three questions. How come I haven't seen them yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. Because I don't have time to answer all questions this morning and I'm skipping duplicates and those that are silly or not related to the conversation.
bob the builder 11:41 a.m. Lots of residential in downtown going up. Are tenant single? Newly married? With kids going to school? What are impacts on schools in the area
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. We are seeing all demographics now.
Michael D. 11:41 a.m. And a follow-up to Braden P.'s question about the street car, are there alternatives for the suspended wire, or is that about the only option right now?
Guest 11:42 a.m. Obviously Detroit has had huge issues facing it for some time (industrial decline, white flight, awful governance), but what is your take on the effect that sprawl and the high cost to serve outlying areas with basic services had on the ultimate bankruptcy of the municipality? Could something like this be a canary in the coal mine for other sprawling cities (like OKC) way down in the future if other factors mentioned above take root here?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Detroit had a lot more problems than just sprawl...
Ray 11:42 a.m. Mystery Tower 3! Steve you are blowing our minds!
Crumbumb69 11:42 a.m. Did PizzaTown get shut down as a result of the land being bought up for redevelopment/a new tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. What do you think?
Animal Mother 11:43 a.m. Steve, what do you think the chances are OKC has 5 new skyscrapers (towers) in some stage of development by 2016?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Meh, not so good.... but two to three....
Guest 11:43 a.m. It's hard for me to find MAPS 3 individual project updates. MAPS 3 website says "Downtown Park Phase I". Has anything started?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. Nope.
Will 11:43 a.m. The Whiskey Chicks building in Bricktown is a 1903-04 building.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. I think that was actually a 1906 building.
Nicole 11:43 a.m. Little Rock has a trolley downtown and I personally don't think it is that special. It does take you to North Little Rock though, that is a plus.
OKCUnite 11:44 a.m. Jane Jenkins is awesome. How about putting together the midtown urban renewal redevelopment plan for one?? She is very passionate about the redevelopment of our city and we are lucky to have her.
Cuatro 11:44 a.m. How "set in stone" is design for the park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. It's not approved yet by the council
OKCJ 11:44 a.m. It's 11:30. You better go so you don't work past 9 pm again.
Animal Mother 11:45 a.m. It's 11:45...5 minutes past your capped time. You should go take a nice break. You've been hard at work the last several hours, obviously.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. Thanks. Yes, I really have to go now. There are about two dozen questions I was unable to get to today. Please forgive me. Have a great weekend!
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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