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OKC Central Chat transcript, May 16, 2014

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: May 16, 2014 at 12:27 pm •  Published: May 16, 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 10:06 a.m. Good morning. We'll get started at 10:30 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Gary T 10:35 a.m. Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you. If Alt C of the Boulevard is chosen (which from the looks of things, that's what they are leaning toward) do you think the Farmer's Market area could overcome that terrible layout and become a thriving urban area? What would need to be done?
Steve 10:36 a.m. Farmers Market has a lot of potential. I'm not sure we yet have a final picture of what the boulevard will look like, and I'm sure there are still some discussions ahead. Some new sidewalks and streetlights could probably be as big a boost to the area as any damage that might be possible with a new boulevard.
Gary T 10:38 a.m. When will we see renderings of the proposed Convention center? Will they include a hotel?
Steve 10:39 a.m. There is no hotel in reality yet, so any rendering of a hotel would be for site modeling only, which has already taken place. As for final renderings for the convention center, if my understanding is correct, that's probably at least a year away.
Gary T 10:39 a.m. When will we see Stage Center start to be dismantled? Are there any plans to reuse some of the parts of it?
Steve 10:39 a.m. We should be hearing an update on these questions fairly soon.
Gary T 10:39 a.m. Looks like the Century Center is gutted and ready to take shape. Are there still chances of parking being added on top of the existing parking structure? Do you think with the new design (mostly gray and glass) we will see a new design for the Sherton hotel to match?
Steve 10:40 a.m. I'm pretty sure a parking expansion is now pretty dead. I'm not hearing about any major renovation of the Sheraton being in the works for the building's exterior.
Gary T 10:40 a.m. I asked you this last week and you kind of sidestepped it: In a perfect world, what would your version of the Boulevard look like?
Steve 10:41 a.m. One in which residents, area business owners and civic leaders worked as partners with ODOT engineers to come up with a road that is best for the city.
Gary T 10:41 a.m. H&8th is already stretching from 6th to 9th street on Hudson. Where do you see it going from there as it continues to grow? Obviously up to 10th, but do you think it will start to go west?
Steve 10:42 a.m. It could potentially go west. That would be kind of cool.
Gary T 10:42 a.m. Do you think the HH/MP Nimby's will protest the renovation of the duplex on the NW/C of NW 23rd and Robinson into retail?
Steve 10:43 a.m. Let's not call them Nimbys. They are concerned residents who enjoy NW 23 as much as anyone else, if not more so. I think they simply want to make sure that development along NW 23 doesn't damage their neighborhoods.
Tyler 10:43 a.m. Will you be attending any of the Thunder games?
Steve 10:43 a.m. Nope. Too expensive for me.
Gary T 10:43 a.m. What is the reimagined date of completion for The Rise? Seems like they got a lot of work done, but much to go.
Steve 10:43 a.m. I think they're on track for late summer.
Tyler 10:43 a.m. Steve....Thank you for all of your work. You are a great man, leader, and friend. God Bless...
Steve 10:43 a.m. Thanks.
Gary T 10:43 a.m. Do you think we will see any structured parking in Midtown soon so the empty lots can be developed completely without having to account for parking?
Steve 10:44 a.m. Yes, I do, and I suspect it would be led by the Midtown Renaissance folks. But I can't predict a timeline or where one might be built or what the trigger might be.
orange crush 10:52 a.m. with ocu law school going downtown, do u know any delis or coffee shops opening up around midtown ?
Steve 10:53 a.m. I think we're going to see a lot of development around the law school, not just restaurants and coffee shops, but also housing as well.
Ramsey Rattatouie 10:53 a.m. How do you feel the response from ODOT has been to the questions you have asked?
Steve 10:55 a.m. They have made it clear they do not like my questions and they are upset with what I've written to date. They say I have not quoted anyone downtown who supports the alignment they have scored highest. That is true. I will repeat my request to everyone: if there is someone who likes Option C, please contact me.
Terry 10:55 a.m. How do you account for the success of the Plaza District without adequate parking, traffic flow or exposure along a major street? Is it due to being so close to OCU that it's become a hangout for students or as a hangout for the adjacent neighborhood residents who walk or bike their way from home? Or is it something entirely different such as filling the void in OKC as the bohemian rallying point?
Steve 10:56 a.m. We're seeing a change in demographics where some people are giving up cars all together. And it's simply also that is a very unique area.
Tyler 10:56 a.m. What is your political affiliation?
Steve 10:56 a.m. Agnostic.
OK Joe 10:56 a.m. With the electoral drama behind us it too early to talk MAPS 4? Has anyone estimated what kind of capital dollars it would take to transform Metro public transit in a MAPS-type package? Meaning to do both all the improvements that Shadid wanted for the buses as well as to expand the streetcar to cover the entire urban core (say North to 23rd, South to 25th, East to Eastern, West to Classen)? What kind of tax increase would it take to support that infrastructure and would the current growth of downtown make it feasible?
Steve 10:57 a.m. I'm not aware of any in-depth studies done to date, though you're not the first person to tell me you have an interest in seeing MAPS 4 addressing transit.
Ben 10:57 a.m. Some people seem to like the idea of street cars but I do not see its advantages over buses. Buses run on natural gas while street cars run on electricity. The marginal production of electricity comes from natural gas but its production occurs at plants that are miles away. The electricity then must be transported over miles of wires which results in a loss of energy. Thus, buses would appear to use less energy than street cars. Furthermore, street cars are much more expense because they need track and unsightly overhead wires. Buses need none of that and are more flexible because they can go anywhere there is a road. So what am I missing? What are the advantages of street cars over buses that would justify taxpayers spending millions of dollars on a street car system?
David 11:00 a.m. There are rumors of a new tower to be built on the Preftakes block with the anchor tenant to be BOK. What if anything have you heard about this? Thanks
Steve 11:03 a.m. I've heard those rumors too. But I'm not convinced there's a deal there.
Guest 11:03 a.m. Have you heard anything from ODOT in response to your questions about the Boulevard? Do they have a public relations person or do they even care about PR?
Steve 11:04 a.m. As I said before, yes, I've gotten a response. They're not happy. If any of you support Option C, please contact me.
David 11:04 a.m. Have you heard what new retail brands Glimcher is trying to bring to NH Plaza, Classen Curve and the Triangle? And what is the timeline
Steve 11:04 a.m. That's a question better posed to Brianna Bailey, who is now covering this development.
David 11:04 a.m. Any news about Trader Joes to NH Plaza?
Steve 11:05 a.m. Ditto.
Terry 11:05 a.m. At first I was upset that Century Center wasn't expanding upwards, but then I realized any additional height would obstruct the views looking NW from the Myriad Gardens and vice-versa. Now with the panels off the building looks 100% better already. I'm wondering, however, where are the 350 OPUBCO employees going to park?
Steve 11:06 a.m. My understanding is there is parking for about half or more of the workforce, and the remainder will park in a remote surface lot south of the Myriad Gardens. About 1,600 parking spaces are being added currently downtown, and that will provide some relief for all involved.
Terry 11:06 a.m. It would really create a fantastic connection between Bricktown and downtown if they'd extend the canal to the Myriad Gardens lake. With the Cox Convention Center gone, it's only about 1,500 feet between the two when drawing a straight line. Of course the canal would have to jog around the Park House restaurant and somehow pass beneath the Santa Fe RR viaduct to make the connection. It would also require some sort of lock system if the water taxis were to go all the way to the Myriad lake. I forget what the height difference is between the water level of the canal and the Myriad lake, but I do remember it was fairly close. I also know the Myriad lake is fed by a natural aquifer, while the canal is concrete lined and filled with water like a swimming pool. Since they are so close together, I would hope the City would at least entertain the idea of connecting them and provide for that opportunity by not allowing development that could make it impossible to build once the Cox is gone.
Steve 11:08 a.m. This is an idea that has been out there for a while, and I'm sure it will be discussed more once the new convention center is built. Redevelopment of the Cox site may be more complicated than some folks may realize. There's a very expensive heating and cooling plant for both the Cox center and the Chesapeake Arena in the basement garage under the Cox Convention Center.
Reed 11:08 a.m. Might be too far out of your area - but the SE corner of 50th & Western where they planned on putting in the Nat. Gas OnCue station. They are moving dirt again. Do you know if it is the same project or is something else happening?
Steve 11:09 a.m. Good question. Maybe OnCue decided to take on the project in place of a Peake station. We'll see.
Stan 11:09 a.m. I see more and more apartments being built...and thus the downtown population is also increasing. Any hope soon for a "real" grocery store to support that population growth?
Steve 11:10 a.m. So by "real," you dismissing Native Roots? If you're asking is there a chance we will see a 25,000-square foot or larger grocery built in the greater downtown area, I can now tell you that the answer is a very likely "yes."
David 11:10 a.m. Has the Jones family voiced their opinion of ODOT's options for the "boulevard"? It would seem they would be an important stakeholder to consult with considering the planned 21c Hotel and other hinted at future investment in their surrounding property. I can't imagine they like any of the ODOT plans
Steve 11:10 a.m. Not yet.
David 11:10 a.m. Any news on the mixed use development to make K.C. and Dallas jealous? Is it still on target.
Steve 11:11 a.m. It's shaky.
OK Joe 11:11 a.m. Have you heard any news on the future of the building that recently had an antique store in it off of ~NW 10th & Classen (used to be an Army surplus store in the 90's)? The business moved a few months back and the owner told my wife an out of town development group owned the building and adjacent property and was going to redevelop into residential of some sort. We love the historic building and would hate to see it torn down.
Steve 11:12 a.m. I'm not hearing of any demolition being proposed. There is a lot redevelopment in the works for Classen between Main Street and NW 18.
Terry 11:12 a.m. Any news on the FNC and is there a reason why most people are suggesting the First National Center should be converted to residential rather than office space? I think residential would be great for all floors above the 13th floor due to the small floor plates. However, below that with the 13 story east building addition it would seem to make more sense to update and lease the space as office (retail at street level of course) since the lower floors make a much larger floor plate. What's your take?
Steve 11:14 a.m. The floor plates of First National are not seen as ideal for modern office users. A hotel is seen as the best shot at reactivating the Great Banking Hall (as a grand lobby with hotel rooms going up surrounding the space Embassy Suites style) with housing being the best shot at a profitable rehabilitation of this landmark.
Terry 11:14 a.m. I get confused by all the different names people use for the Core-to-Shore Park and the Crosstown Boulevard. We should just settle on their names now to avoid any future confusion. Lord knows I get confused enough trying to explain to visitors why Walnut Avenue changes to Mickey Mantle Drive, Robert S. Kerr Avenue changes to 2nd Street, etc., etc., etc. Let's just settle for calling the park “Courteshore Park” and the boulevard “Thunder Road” and be done with it. OK?
Steve 11:14 a.m. Don't look at me. It's not my fault.
Stan 11:14 a.m. My wife and I recently walked along the oklahoma river, but felt a bit uneasy after walking past Walker. Does the downtown police bike patrol the trail?
Steve 11:15 a.m. Yes, they do. But I'm not sure to what extent.
David 11:15 a.m. have you heard anything about what Mason has planned next with his properties on Automobile Alley?
Steve 11:15 a.m. Not yet.
Uptowner 11:15 a.m. I've seen it asked before elsewhere but I wanted to run it by you: with the growing quality and improvement of Midtown, why is Brown's Bakery still looking like a memory of what was? I love the bakery and don't think it should go, but is it possible to influence the owner to fix up the exterior?
Steve 11:18 a.m. The Brown family was hit with the loss of one of their key people - Michael Brown - and I sense they're still a bit taken back by it all. They do care, they are part of the neighborhood. And I can tell you that before Michael got sick, he was planning a pretty ambitious renovation that would have included the south half of the building that is currently just used as storage. My suggestion? Become regular customers at Brown's tell them how much you appreciate their contribution to the neighborhood, and tell them what you're telling me.
Terry 11:18 a.m. Am I understanding this right? Chris Johnson wants to build a hotel across the canal from his House of Bedlam with guest vehicle access to the hotel passing thru House of Bedlam's valet parking entrance off Mickey Mantle Drive then across a new bridge over the canal to deposit guests at the hotel lobby entrance. Hmm. Sounds kinda cool actually. Why not? After all, the current bridge at Wanda Jackson Way is really just an alley and not wide enough to handle all the hotel traffic, trash trucks and other neighborhood uses. This would give the hotel a unique and separate access (although shared with House of Bedlam) to it's public areas while providing separation from the service areas. I love it! Now build the sucker.
Steve 11:19 a.m. I can tell you that construction is indeed about to start on House of Bedlam.
3:10 to Yuma 11:19 a.m. I am emotionally worn out from the last two series. I am praying for a roller-coaster free West finals. I guess that won't happen will it?
Steve 11:20 a.m. The Thunder came out the victor through two play-off rounds with teams that are far better than all but the top teams in the Eastern Conference. I'm ok with this.
Terry 11:20 a.m. Why am I hearing that some people want to replace the Chesapeake Arena? What's wrong with the Peake? I mean OKC just built it and some want to replace it already? What would they replace it with? I like the Peake and can't believe people would even consider diverting attention away from the other downtown projects.
Steve 11:21 a.m. No one is suggesting the arena be replaced at this time. But come 2022, the 20th anniversary of the Chesapeake Area? Yeah, don't be surprised if it's discussed.
Guest 11:21 a.m. I'm hearing there is delays and architect strife at The Rise. Any truth?
Steve 11:22 a.m. Jonathan Russell and Anthony McDermid seemed happy enough the last time the three of us saw each other at The Rise.
Uptowner 11:22 a.m. I saw the article about the Energy getting real serious about a stadium location, when do you expect for us to hear an announcement on the location/details/possible renderings? Obviously this is no small project, but with how well they got the team started, I imagine once they decide on a location they will be very efficient in having it built.
Steve 11:23 a.m. Site location is underway. That has to happen first before any renderings are done. And I will be shocked if it's not somewhere along the Oklahoma River, likely south shore, but near downtown.
David 11:23 a.m. Last year an OU architecture graduate student posted on his blog his thesis for a veladrome on the river in downtown OKC. Reportedly he has been asked to meet with city officials to discuss his plans. what have you heard about this plan and what are the chances his thesis becomes a reality?
Steve 11:24 a.m. A bike track is part of the master plan, short-term, for the RiverSports park area along the river.
Guest 11:24 a.m. My wife and I have sent multiple emails to our council representatives, the mayor, and now the federal DOT over the past few months regarding all the various issues discussed on this chat but have never had a response (not even an auto-reply). We have even called the council offices a few times only to leave unanswered messages with the staff. My question is - have you heard any rumblings from your contacts that there has been any increased contact between the public and the powers-that-be regarding the central park, the boulevard, or other hot-button issues talked about recently? Any feel for whether your urging the readers to speak up to our local government has resulted in any action on our behalf?
Steve 11:26 a.m. Yeah, they're hearing you.
David 11:26 a.m. Any news on the other tenants at Century Center? Also, I see the panels have come down, please tell me they will remove or at least repaint the stucco that is left?
Steve 11:27 a.m. I can confirm a deal is in the works with Mahogany Steakhouse. I'm not aware of any stucco remaining on Century Center.
Uptowner 11:27 a.m. I'm confused with the boulevard plans: in your article you said that plan C was the bad one with the highway bypass purpose, but when I saw the link today about feed back and where to see designs, plan C was the 4-lane option that I thought we wanted? I might just be confused unless they changed around the letterings.
Steve 11:30 a.m. I have not said any option is bad. I have said ODOT is clearly leaning toward Option C, has scored it highest, and that folks I've talked to have concerns about it. A six-lane configuration was part of Option A.
David 11:30 a.m. Have you heard any news about the restaurant that will operate in the Parkside Building?
Steve 11:30 a.m. Not yet.
Tyler 11:30 a.m. Is Gary T actually you, Steve? Seriously.
Steve 11:30 a.m. No. Seriously. Gary T is real. He even has a Twitter account with his photo as the avatar.
Jeff 11:31 a.m. Steve, can you talk about the funding plan for the Core to Shore Park? I've heard some of the usual suspects infer that the funding could come from neighborhood parks, but I just don't see that happening.
Steve 11:32 a.m. There are a lot of assumptions made about corporate and philanthropic support made for the new park's funding, and I think that's what is driving ongoing concerns about whether this park operation could compete with city funding for other parks. I don't think we know enough yet, but I do understand those concerns.
Terry 11:32 a.m. Hey thanks for posting those pictures last week of the Pioneer AT&T building before and after the installation of the now useless microwave tower. I think the building is actually quite beautiful and not an eyesore without all that ugly equipment sitting on top. The building that actually struck me as the eyesore is AT&T's hideous concrete bunker tower directly to the west of the Pioneer. It's so blocky and massive that it overwhelms and hides the delicate features and slender upper tower of the Pioneer. I rarely advocate for a building's destruction, however, I'd be overjoyed if they tore that hideous thing down. P.S. While they're at it they could tear down the ugly microwave tower at the same time.
David 11:32 a.m. when does construction on the streetcar route begin? On a related note, will they have to close and tear up Robinson again to modify it for the street car?
Steve 11:33 a.m. Next year. There will be some construction needed on any street, but I've been told it won't be major and that utilities were relocated to ensure a smooth construction schedule.
Badger 11:33 a.m. Any thoughts about possibly changing the city flag?
Steve 11:33 a.m. No, not really.
Tyler 11:33 a.m. Just want to give a shout out to Gary T. You're excitement for OKC is almost unbelievable and you are a true testament to the expansion of OKC.
Terry 11:33 a.m. I agree with you there should be no rush to build the Core-to-Shore Park (Courteshore). Once completed the park would only divert resources away from Midtown, AA and Bricktown which are currently developing beautifully and organically into rich and diverse districts that are better than I ever expected. I'd hate for their window of opportunity to be stunted in any way right now. Once these areas have been infilled enough that the momentum is easily sustained, then the attention can switch to the park area.
Terry 11:37 a.m. I heard someone suggest that one of the MAPS3 Senior Centers should be built in the Boathouse District. It seems like that area is filling up fast and won't have the room for such a center unless of course OU decides to back out of using it's spot because it prefers to use the Exchange Boathouse further west up the river. Have you heard anything about either situation? P.S. I also heard the Union Train station was also being considered for one of the Senior Centers.
Steve 11:37 a.m. I don't see a senior center being built along the river - I've not any proposals go out for that location.
Uptowner 11:38 a.m. What are your thoughts on the Staybridge Suites? I'm no a major in city planning, but I don't have any problems with the design and I think it'll be a nice infill for that land right there, along with providing a hotel that expands the offerings that we already have.
Steve 11:39 a.m. The developer has made a lot of changes to make the hotel more compatible with Bricktown. The parking configuration is dictated, to some degree, by the limitations of the site itself (drainage, ODOT easements, an unmovable billboard and cell phone tower).
Terry 11:39 a.m. Do you think we'll see the City ante up and put some money into the kitty to attract a potential convention center hotel like the Omni? After all didn't MAPS3 designate $280 million for the Convention Center and saved $30 million of that by not buying the property south of the Peake which had budgeted $30 million just to move the electrical substation?
Steve 11:40 a.m. That's the debate ahead, Terry. As for the $30 million ... um, well, that's a whole other discussion that's way too complicated for the live chat.
Steve 11:41 a.m. The $30 million is currently budgeted, as I recall, for contingencies and infrastructure.
Terry 11:41 a.m. Since you just missed the opportunity to ask a certain person this question in last week's chat, I'll repeat it. Have you heard anything on when they plan to build the Pavilion with the surf pool in the Boathouse District? P.S. Also curious about timing of the Grandstand and the wind barriers.
Steve 11:41 a.m. I still need to check on this.
David 11:42 a.m. There are rumors that the Homeland on 18th will be significantly upgraded/renovated. have you heard anything about this?
Steve 11:48 a.m. I have made several calls and sent emails to Homeland executives inquiring about this store. Two weeks have passed without a response.
Let's start with a post made by the Homeland CEO this past month on a neighborhood forum involving residents of Heritage Hills and Mesta Park:
Thank you for taking the time to share your concern about our store on Classen. We want to remain your local neighborhood grocer. I am the President of HAC Inc, and the current parent company for Homeland. I, too, want a better shopping experience for you and your neighbors. Our store's current District Manager will begin immediately addressing cleanliness of our current facility.

Behind the scenes, we have been doing market surveys on the trade area and looking for an alternative location to build a new store in your area. That search has not proven fruitful. The city has come up with some downtown locations, but there is not sufficient downtown population to support the profitable operation of a new store downtown, yet.

As a result, we have engaged a store design group to begin an review of your current store and to give us an architectural drawing for a total remodel of our current store. We believe this remodel will cost between $2.5 and $3.5 million dollars. To offset some of this cost, we will be asking the city to consider a possible tax abatement for some period of time. This process can be lengthy.

The process is underway now. I thank you for your current business and hope you will be patient with us as we try to work through the steps required to complete a remodel of your store.

Thank you again for your concern and feedback, Sincerely, Darryl Fitzgerald, President and CEO.

OK, so this is all we have from Homeland. But there is more to this story. First, I've contacted The Alliance for Economic Development and the economic development projects manager at City Hall. No such application or approach has been made by Homeland for a rebate.
Further, the city doesn't typically do such rebates. So this is what we have nailed down.
There are difficult questions that likely will be asked if Homeland does ever make an application. They include:
- Is it true the NW 18 and Classen store is currently one of the chain's most profitable locations?
- Why can't Homeland make the sort of investment in its stores that are being made by Crest and Buy For Less?
- Could a such a deal hurt the chances of getting a better, newer store built downtown from scratch by another chain that has invested more money in upgrades?
Terry 11:49 a.m. I haven't been by there recently but I've heard people are ignoring the barriers put up to keep people from crossing beneath the Union Pacific and I-40 bridge. Maybe we'll just open it up by default on our own. Have you heard if Union Pacific and the City have finally come to some sort of agreement?
Steve 11:49 a.m. They are working on it. From what I've heard, I doubt Oklahoma City police would go out of their way to enforce this blockade.
Guest 11:49 a.m. Have you spoken to Blair Humphreys regarding the Downtown Airpark? Any idea as to when we might know more about what he's going to do with that area?
Steve 11:50 a.m. We will be hearing about something soon.
Guest 11:51 a.m. Any updates on the possibility of improved regional public transit? I have heard ACOG is doing a pretty big study on the matter, plus the recent acquisition of the Santa Fe Station by OKC.
Steve 11:51 a.m. Yes, they're still talking. It's all very promising.
Terry 11:52 a.m. I know this is a bit off your beat, but I just saw signs put up near the Founders Tower calling the area the Founders District. I don't know if I'd call it much of a district anymore, but as I'm sure you're well aware, back in the 60's and 70's the area was OKC Central for Googie Architecture (like you see in the old Jetsons cartoons). The only original buildings I know that are still there are the Founders Tower, the Founders Bank (now Bank of America), 3131 NW Expwy and I believe what once was a medical tower building that is now the Country Inn Suites. All of these have been modified in one form or another. Some of the best buildings are gone now such as the Continental Theater and the really cool and huge Founders Fair store. What I remember most was that the buildings all had a distinctive unifying black and white color scheme which is now basically gone due to demolition and remodeling. Only the 3131 NW Expwy. Building still exhibits some of that character even though it has been remodeled itself. Other than name recognition do you know if declaring as a district qualifies the area for grant money, tax breaks or any other assistance? It used to be such a cool area (even had a drive-in) and would be great to see that area densify but with the city's most outlandish architecture (even if it's not Googie style).
Steve 11:52 a.m. I've seen the old photos - and yes, that area was pretty cool in its heyday.
Jeff 11:52 a.m. If you had a $1 million to invest in OKC, what would you do?
Steve 11:53 a.m. I don't know. I'd probably look to people far smarter than myself for advice.
David 11:53 a.m. Has there been any movement by the House leadership on allowing a vote on the Native American Cultural Center?
Steve 11:54 a.m. This is a question better asked of capitol reporter Randy Ellis.
Josh 11:54 a.m. Has there been any update to the Modern Street Car system? If so, could you link to the current status and/or provide a synopsis?
Steve 11:54 a.m. Construction is set to start next year.
Guest 11:54 a.m. Downtown is booming and there is a demand for good office space and parking. Why? What makes companies want to locate downtown?
Steve 11:55 a.m. It's a hub of banking, government, energy, law, sports and cultural activities It's where innovation is taking place.
OK Joe 11:55 a.m. What is the parking garage that is going up in Midtown next to the gas station off of Broadway and ~ 10th? Will it be open to the public after business hours?
Steve 11:55 a.m. The garage is being built to accommodate redevelopment of the Marion Hotel and the 1100 and 1101 N Broadway Buildings.
Guest 11:55 a.m. How do you see the relationship between Urban Neighbors and Downtown OKC? Are they too close?
Steve 11:56 a.m. They are two separate organizations that work close together, but do have different boards and sometimes different agendas. I don't see either board as being submissive to the other.
Bill 11:56 a.m. Historic neighborhoods South of 23rd between May and Classen appear to be up and coming but still need some significant help to achieve full potential. Do you see this area improving over time similar to the way Heritage Hills has? What roadblocks do you see for this area? What are your thoughts on what this area needs to thrive?
Steve 11:58 a.m. They have potential, but there's a lot of work to be done. One of the biggest roadblocks is the percentage of rental housing. I don't know how that can be overcome or minimized as a negative factor in terms of lack of resident buy-in to the neighborhoods.
Guest 11:58 a.m. Will the public ever get to see the public comments about the Boulevard?
Steve 11:58 a.m. I've submitted an Open Records Act for the comments.
Guest 11:58 a.m. Love your chats Steve and still follow them even though I recently moved to Dallas...hey gotta pad that resume. Anyway, word on the street is that something is going down on the current BOA site downtown. Care to divulge what you know??
Steve 11:59 a.m. Which BOA site are you talking about?
Guest 11:59 a.m. Karchmer parking garage?
Steve 11:59 a.m. It's still in the works?
Guest 11:59 a.m. Jane Jenkins likes Option C, as does Roy Williams (or may be that was Jane Jenkins also).
Steve 11:59 a.m. Does she?
Ramsey Rattatouie 11:59 a.m. Do you think we will hear about the new design of the OG&E building anytime soon? Are they planning on moving out of their current headquarters and selling it? It would be great for residential use.
Steve 11:59 a.m. That's definitely a possibility.
OK Joe 12:00 p.m. @GaryT - I am a MP "Nimby" that happens to live directly behind all the current and proposed development activity on NW 23rd (I get to look at the Tower theatre sign every evening out my window) and I totally support all the efforts. I don't think your characterization of all the residents of our large neighborhood is accurate. Just a case of a more vocal/powerful minority.
Guest 12:00 p.m. DOKC's reveal about their support for ODOT boulevard Option C seems to imply there's more going on behind the scenes. Any sense about what their organization is really up to?
Steve 12:00 p.m. The email was a bit weird, especially when you consider that the DOKC board has yet to take a stand on the issue. There are far more discussions taking place behind the scenes than what is being said in public.
guest 12:01 p.m. Something that surprises me is that the plaza district seems to be the talk of the town and the paseo has been lost in the shuffle. They both seem to share secluded characterists and both have great offerings. Is my perception off base? And if i'm not off base, what do you think the reason for this is? (plaza district is the shiny new toy perhaps)
Steve 12:02 p.m. They're actually quite different. The Paseo is far more established, far more steady, while the Plaza is far younger and it is still evolving. Both are popular with locals, and both areas are thriving.
Guest 12:02 p.m. Re: Ben's comment, streetcar tracks = sense of permanence = more likely to spur development, investment than rubber tire buses
Mark 12:02 p.m. Will the railroad tracks forever separate Bricktown from downtown? Or is there any plan in the works to open it up, raise it, reroute it...?
Steve 12:02 p.m. Nope.
Guest 12:02 p.m. Stronger rumors about a second Devon Tower, heard anything?
Steve 12:03 p.m.
Uptowner 12:03 p.m. What's the update for the OG&E building? Seems like they're just sitting on the plans
Steve 12:03 p.m. An update is in the works.
Guest 12:03 p.m. Will you be posting ODOT's responses to your questions?
Steve 12:03 p.m. Would you like that?
shawnw 12:03 p.m. Maybe Brianna needs to start a weekly chat on Thursdays.
Steve 12:04 p.m. Let me see if she can join me as a guest next week.
Terry 12:04 p.m. All the boulevard schemes are relying on sticking solely to the old roadway path. However, if they did a land swap they could build a beautiful, large diameter roundabout at the intersection of Reno, Western and Exchange. Classen could be rerouted at California to angle SW to line up with Exchange and the Boulevard could be angled SE after crossing Klein to turn into the roundabout from the NW to intersect perpendicular to Exchange and Classen. As eastbound drivers on the boulevard pass thru the roundabout the boulevard would continue SE until it hits 2nd St. then east until it picks up the original crosstown freeway route. It would be even better if they added one more smaller roundabout at the intersection of Robinson and the new boulevard. P.S. Classen would be taken out between California and 3rd St. but would basically still be a continuous street. It would just be diverted west for that stretch thru the roundabout.In effect the new roundabout would now appear as the spokes of a wheel (Western as the N-S spoke, Reno as the E-W spoke, the new boulevard as the NW-SE spoke and Exchange/ Classen as the NE-SW spoke). What do you think?
Steve 12:05 p.m. I didn't sleep enough last night to be able to process this question/suggestion!
david ball 12:05 p.m. i hate to say this, but your boss keeps continually screwing up the website. it's not the content, IT'S THE FORMAT. i couldn't even find this chat on the subscriber website. mr. herzberger's boss should read this, as it seems to be one problem after another after another. sorry for the rant, i love your column and web presence. when i can access it, that is...
Steve 12:06 p.m. We welcome this feedback and we're always looking to improve what we provide to readers. I'll forward this on to the right folks.
Terry 12:06 p.m. P.S. I hate Option C. Come to think of it I hate all their Options they showed last week.
Ramsey Rattatouie 12:06 p.m. What is the status of the Mexican food place that has been empty for years at the NW corner of 16th and Classen Blvd?
Steve 12:06 p.m. It's owned by a family that so far has rebuffed unsolicited purchase offers.
david ball 12:06 p.m. i wish okc and the okc school district would restore taft stadium to its former glory. the energy could play there.
Steve 12:07 p.m. I believe a major renovation of Taft Stadium is underway.
Jeff 12:07 p.m. Would the city allow Lake Hefner to developed more? To the south of Red Rock, Hefner Grill, etc.
Steve 12:07 p.m. I'm pretty sure it's going to remain capped off with what is already out there.
Bill 12:07 p.m. Any update on when they will be done with the Sante Fe Parking Garage "improvements"?
Steve 12:07 p.m. Nope.
Tyler 12:08 p.m. AnY NeWS On WaFfLe HoUse StevE?
Steve 12:08 p.m. Can't eat there anymore - trying to live a healthier life.
Jeff 12:08 p.m. Any updates on The Steelyard?
Steve 12:08 p.m. Construction should start late this year, early 2015. The soil clean-up is nearing completion.
Nate 12:09 p.m. Have you seen any renderings for the new garage Midtown R is doing across from the Marion?
Steve 12:09 p.m. Yep. I'll try to post something later today.
Anon 12:09 p.m. Do you see conflicts with an organization funded by a voluntary property tax assessment (Downtown OKC Inc) semi-publicly endorsing an Alternative that may not be supported by a fair share of people who pay for the organization?
Steve 12:10 p.m. Downtown OKC Inc. is paid to operate the business improvement district, but it is no directly funded though the city. The organization itself has private funding and its own board.
Anon 12:10 p.m. Seems like civic organizations are trying to create a wave of support for Alternative C in active opposition to the citizen's movement against this type of Alternative. I know the Chamber can do this type of campaign as with MAPS, but where does the ethical grey area begin to turn into questionable activity?
Steve 12:10 p.m. I don't know.
Jeff 12:10 p.m. I've heard Omni resorts has been looking carefully at OKC
Steve 12:11 p.m. I've been hearing about Omni for several years.
Uptowner 12:11 p.m. I wish Crest would buy out the Homeland on classen and revamp it to something like the Crest they just built in Norman. If you haven't seen that one yet, it's probably one of the most beautiful grocery stores I've ever seen. Puts Walmart and Target to shame.
Stan 12:11 p.m. Any hope for a "real" grocery store downtown?
Steve 12:11 p.m. Already answered this!
Stan 12:11 p.m. Do the OKC bike police patrol the Oklahoma river trails?
Steve 12:11 p.m. Yes.
Tyler 12:11 p.m. Your response to the Homeland question..... Wow, just wow. That was an encyclopedia! Brilliant, Steve, brilliant!
Steve 12:11 p.m. Thanks Mom.
Guest 12:11 p.m. Will you go ride the new zipline at the boathouse next week?
Steve 12:12 p.m. Will I visit and look? Yes. Will I ride the zipline? Um, no. I'm a coward.
Tyler 12:12 p.m. Steve, last meal.... Waffle House or Eskimo Joes?
Steve 12:12 p.m. Waffle House.
Chris 12:12 p.m. The houses decided today to not vote on funding for the indian museum this session
Uptowner 12:12 p.m. Any plans to fill in the floors above the Spaghetti Warehouse?
Steve 12:12 p.m. Plans? You bet. A willingness by the owner to entertain such plans or sell? Um, not so far.
Tyler 12:13 p.m. Have you ever thought about moving outside of OKC? If so, where?
Steve 12:13 p.m. If I had to move, it would be to Louisville, Kentucky.
Uptowner 12:13 p.m. Why is there a billboard advertising Dallas along I-44 near N May? Low blow...
Steve 12:13 p.m. Because Dallas wants our money.
Guest 12:13 p.m. When do you see the Producers Coop property in Bricktown finally getting redeveloped?
Steve 12:13 p.m. When someone can pay a lot of money for it.
Uptowner 12:13 p.m. When will work begin on the Whitewater area? It seems like it is a pretty massive undertaking that will require lots of work.
Steve 12:14 p.m. It's set to begin later this year.
Guest 12:14 p.m. Has the IRS moved out of their building yet? If so, who's set to move in?
Steve 12:14 p.m. Nope and I don't know.
Tyler 12:14 p.m. Who is your daddy, and what does he do?
Steve 12:14 p.m. He was a CPA and he died last year. Quit asking this question.
Terry 12:15 p.m. Just a comment regarding requests to turn Taft Stadium into the Energy's stadium. It makes more sense to build a stadium south of the river. After all there are a lot more devoted soccer fans south of the river than north of it.
HeWhoIsHim 12:15 p.m. Attending Premiere on Film Row tonight? Elvis is rumored to be back. Yes, shameless plug... =)
Steve 12:15 p.m. I might.
Tyler 12:15 p.m. I'm sorry, Steve. Sincerely my apologies. He raised an awesome son. Thank you for all of the work you do!
Steve 12:15 p.m. Thanks.
Wondering 12:16 p.m. Why did DOKC Twitter accounts say yesterday that Jane wasn't speaking for DOKC when she said "we support" several times in her email?
Steve 12:17 p.m. Twitter is great and terrible all at once. It's easy to stumble and post something that we might later regret. It's a very powerful and dangerous tool.
Tyler 12:17 p.m. Is this in real time now?
Steve 12:17 p.m. Pretty close to it.
Tyler 12:17 p.m. Does that mean this is coming to an end??
Steve 12:17 p.m. Yep. Just one more ....
david ball 12:17 p.m. maybe the energy could play in capitol hill.
Steve 12:18 p.m. Not a bad idea!
Steve 12:18 p.m. That's it folks. 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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