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OKC Central Chat transcript, May 24, 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: May 29, 2013 at 10:26 am •  Published: May 29, 2013
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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 10:01 a.m. Good morning everybody.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:01 a.m. Give me just another minute as I try to get settings fixed...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:02 a.m. Testing, testing, testing... oh Tiffany Gibson, do you not know how much I rely on you to make me look good in these chats!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:02 a.m. Ah, there we go. Good morning!
Nick 10:03 a.m. Good morning Steve! I just want to say thanks for doing the chat this morning. You could have easily cancelled it, but I know I'm looking forward to an hour of respite from the destruction we've been dealing with.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. Ditto Nick. I think we're all just looking for sunshine today.
Gary T 10:03 a.m. Good morning Steve. I asked it last week and I'll ask it again (because you said you needed to think on it): If you had your choice, what would be the one business you would want to see downtown that is already not there and why?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. Yep. I thought about it. I wish the answer were a locally owned shop. But truth be told, I've got to look at what provide the greatest spark for residential development. And that, my friends, would be a Super Target. Why can't one be built in or near downtown? Think about it - the closest Super Targets are several miles away. And there is a very affluent population downtown already. It's growing. Add in Heritage Hills, Mesta Park and the other historic neighborhoods, and you get several thousand rooftops hungry for such a retail presence. It would address so many needs - hardware, home goods, clothing, groceries - and yet wouldn't overlap the specialty retailers, including Native Roots Market, that are already downtown.
Gary T 10:09 a.m. Which is the least surprising: KD giving $1 million dollars to the relief efforts or the people of the city donating more items than can be loaded in a truck at a time?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. It's a tie. I could have predicted both. I love this city.
Gary T 10:10 a.m. What is your timeline for a mystery tower announcement now? End of the summer?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Or sooner....
Gary T 10:10 a.m. What is the latest on the Carnegie Center renovation?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. I think they've started.... let me check on that.
Gary T 10:10 a.m. I noticed The Hill started construction on some more homes. How many more can we expect to be built this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. I'm going on memory, but I believe they're building 34 more homes at this point. Sales have been going very well, with the original batch sold out. The Hill may be the big surprise success story of downtown housing. The development by Dr. Bill Canfield went through ample drama due to the national economic crash of 2008-2009, title problems and initially slow sales. But in 2011 it was like a switch was turned on, and the development has been going gangbusters ever since.
Gary T 10:13 a.m. The building on the NW corner of 14th & Broadway was just recently going to be a cowboy bar and now I see a big Crossfit 405 sign on the building. Is that a permanent place for them?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Gary, we don't really know what the original plan was for the former dealership building. The people who leased it for a bar (or restaurant) never talked to me. But critics of that plan noted the interior plans frighteningly resembled the layout for a strip bar and that the kitchen was too small for it to be a regular restaurant. Those operators were caught trying to get a zoning change without proper notification of neighbors, Councilwoman Meg Salyer voice opposition, and the deal fell apart.
The building is now home to Crossfit, a respected fitness gym that was no longer a good fit at NW 8 and Hudson due to music being played during workouts and that former location's proximity to Ludevine. It's a win-win, it seems, for all involved.
Gary T 10:17 a.m. When can we expect Oklahoma Contemporary to break ground on 12th & Broadway?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. I don't know. They've not shared that information.
Gary T 10:18 a.m. A few months ago, there was talk about apartments and retail on the area east of Oklahoma Avenue, north of NE 6th street. Has there been any movement on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. Yep. Expect a deal to break soon.
BethanySooner 10:18 a.m. Steve, thanks for being here this morning in light of the recent tragedy. After grieving for the loss of life and property in Moore, I began to wonder about how this would affect their economy over the next few months with businesses damaged and fewer residents. Isn't their revenue primarily from sales and property taxes?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Expect to see a story in this Sunday's Oklahoman about the future of the Moore retail corridor along I-35 (anchored by Warren Theaters) that was hit pretty hard by the twister. That development was heavily incentivized by Moore, and they need it up and running again quickly. Sales taxes are indeed what makes cities and towns live or die. Property taxes play a role in bond issues used for capital improvements, and certainly are critical for school funding. But sales taxes are the key to Moore's budget.
Guest 10:21 a.m. Do you believe that Bricktown has not experienced its the true economic potential due to a lack of parking and public transportation in the downtown area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. No. I've observed development of Bricktown since the 1990s. Bricktown has not experienced its true potential due to the inexperience and lack of vision of some of its most significant property owners. Parking is only an issue in that the Business Improvement District actually encourages maintaining paid surface parking lots as opposed to developing them because the BID assessment is less for undeveloped property.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Contrary to popular opinion, there is ample parking in and around Bricktown.
BethanySooner 10:24 a.m. There have been rumors about Ron Bradshaw's buildout of the Brownstones, but nothing concrete has been reported. At some point could you do a piece on this as well as give an update on phase two of the 4th street apartments? The infill rate in Deep Deuce is amazing.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Yep. An update is needed.
BethanySooner 10:24 a.m. Beyond the stage center site tower, are you hearing anything firm about when or where the next tower might likely be announced? It seems like not to long ago there was a lot of smoke from several different sources and now virtually nothing.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. These deals take time. Patience my friend, patience.
BethanySooner 10:25 a.m. Are any of the other big Midtown housing projects likely to be announced this summer?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Maybe.
BethanySooner 10:25 a.m. I was looking at the minutes from the April Convention Center meeting and it appeared that a fourth site plan option was presented to the committee. I only remember seeing three: hotel north, hotel south, & hotel on Cox site. Are you aware of another option?
BethanySooner 10:27 a.m. It was stated in the Maps park meeting that the film building on the park site near Robinson was considered for renovation, but was not feasible, so it will be torn down. How realistic was the former redevelopment plan of that building that you have alluded to previously? Was a reputable developer involved, or might it just have been an idea that someone was kicking around? If it was legitimate, it is difficult for me to understand how something that was once do-able is now unfeasible.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Yeah. Um, sure. Asset Construction, a respected disaster recovery company, bought it and attempted to file building permit plans to renovate the property for their headquarters. The city spiked that permit. Asset sought to see if they could renovate the building so it could compliment the park. That went no where. I know this first hand. So that's that.
Maybe this claim of feasibility falls into the same category as "the park needs to be completed by 2014 per city council instructions" and "$30 million of MAPS 3 money must be spent to move the OG&E substation per city council instructions"
Or maybe I just dreamed up the discussion I had with executives from Asset.
Jay 10:31 a.m. Steve, Do you have a count on how many new apartments are under construction or have been permited and how many are still on the drawing board to be built in the downtown area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. We're looking at several hundred at least.
Guest 10:32 a.m. I agree with Steve about the Super Target. Target has built several stores in urban areas. Google urban Target. The one in Chicago is very cool.
Dan 10:32 a.m. Good morning, Steve. I hate to bring up this subject, since it's still so fresh in our minds, but I wanted to get your thoughts on how social media has made an impact on the tornado aftermath compared to the '99 storm. Do you think the abundance of information has helped or hampered efforts to get things back to normal?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. I think social media, all in all, has been incredibly helpful. I remember back during the bombing, the only way families could hope to reunite with loved ones was by contacting authorities and standing on the sidelines with pictures of those they were hoping to locate. Now social media is used to get the word out on reuniting families, friends, even owners with beloved pets. We're even seeing social media being used to get lost pictures, documents and possessions back with owners. It was very helpful in keeping people informed of the oncoming storm.
I was a big skeptic of social media in the early days. I was wrong.
Nick 10:37 a.m. There seems to be a bit of backlash to the proposed hotel in Deep Deuce at 1st and Perry. What are your thoughts? Are people getting too upset at the cost per sq. foot by reading too much into it or is cheap BT hotel construction headed north?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. I think people are uninformed and need to wait and see what is proposed first. This is a typical example of the downside of online message boards.
Nick 10:38 a.m. Bellaboo predicts that we'll see an announcement for the new Mystery Tower around the first of July. Are you hearing the same date?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Who is Bellaboo?
Nick 10:39 a.m. Steve, in the block bounded by NW 8th and 9th Streets and Dewey and Lee Avenues, there's the Century Inn Motel. I know that's slated to be torn down, but do you know what's going on this block? Is it a parking garage for St. Anthony's? Is there anything else planned here?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. St. Anthony Hospital, I suspect, would like to acquire it. I've heard the owners want too much money. Eventually, deals will be made.
Nick 10:39 a.m. What's the next big project to start in Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. I can't tell you. Not yet.
Nick 10:40 a.m. Is the apartment project that Gary asked about the renewed deal with the Bomasada group? Can you say?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Yeah.
Nick 10:40 a.m. Steve, I heard a rumor that the GE Oil & Gas Research Center is all but a done deal for Norman. Have you heard anything to the contrary?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Norman and Oklahoma City are competing. Let's see what happens.
Nick 10:40 a.m. Steve, do you know if the Midtown Renaissance people own/have plans for the surface parking lot at the SE corner of NE 11th St and Harvey Ave? Considering they now own most of the lot between 10th and 11th Sts and Harvey and Hudson Aves., you'd think they'd look to that lot as well.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Good observation.
Gary T 10:41 a.m. Has there been any other owners who have expressed interest in building out or selling the space above existing businesses in BT like the area above City Walk?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. I think some are intrigued and will watch what happens with the Mideke building. Meanwhile, renovations have stared on the floors above Brix (next to Abuelos)
Gary T 10:42 a.m. The Markham Motor Building, just north of Red Prime recently sold. Any idea what it is going to be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. I'm working on finding out.
Nick 10:42 a.m. I haven't seen much work starting on the Rise on 23rd St. Is work going to start soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. The building is being emptied out and work is set to start soon.
KB 10:43 a.m. Good morning Steve. I reluctantly ask this question, but it could be good to know for the people that live Downtown: Is the CONNcourse/Underground accessible 24 hours (for use as a tornado shelter)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. The Underground is not open 24 hours. It is open Monday - Friday from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m., which covers the most likely times for a twister to hit (some do occur overnight, but not often). But obviously that doesn't address the weekend hours. Most of the hotels have basements or safe areas, and I know the Park Harvey Building and The Montgomery have basements.
Downtown has a very successful and active Urban Neighbors residents association. It may be time for them to consider creating a master plan for storm response in light of what we've seen to date.
Guest 10:47 a.m. What's the latest on The Rise, I drove by and saw that construction is underway. Do you have a timeline for and Grand Opening? Are all the spaces leased out?
Aaron 10:47 a.m. Any more updates on The Pump Bar planned on Walker, north of The Rise?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. OK, OK! I get it. Order up one update on The Rise!
Nick 10:48 a.m. Do you know when work on the garage on 10th St and the adjoining renovations are slated to begin? I know you said design work was underway, but it seems like they should be closer to starting now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. It should be starting soon.
Nick 10:48 a.m. Sorry to keep harping on Midtown, but do you know what the long-term plan is for the building at the NE corner of 10th and Harvey? Looks to be empty but I'm not 100% sure it is.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. That building has been empty for many years and does not look to be in great shape. There's a real estate broker's sign on it, but I'm not sure if it's for lease or for sale.
Brian 10:51 a.m. How about a MAPS 4 dedicated solely to road repair, bridge repair, sidewalk installation? Something to improve necessities and infrastructure that will directly impact every citizen, rather than stuff with bells and whistles.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Add that to the idea list.
Nick 10:53 a.m. Apologies, Steve. I forgot to include that Bellaboo is a poster at a local chat site who says he/she has a source close to the new MLP between Enogex and CenterPoint. Anyway, I was really just curious if you thought we'd hear something before July 1.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. We'll see.
Gary T 10:54 a.m. Please don't think I am trying to get a Waffle House to open in BT, but do you know of any other places to eat that would be open later for people after 11?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. I hear that Tapworks is open late, as is McNellies' in MidTown.
Nick 10:55 a.m. Do you know if any tenants have been lined up for the Braniff Building?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Not yet.
Gary T 10:55 a.m. What are you hearing about Mission Chinese coming to OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. The owner is from OKC, he loves his hometown, and he's doing a pop-up this weekend at the Myriad Gardens restaurant to raise money for storm relief.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. A smart developer will figure out a way to do a deal and make an OKC Mission Chinese a reality.
Gary T 10:56 a.m. Had Pie Junkie for the first time last week and I must say it is amazing. Any word on when the pizza place will open up across from Lyric Theatre?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. It shouldn't be much longer.
Nick 10:56 a.m. Has Chris Johnson come to the realization yet that he's going to have to lower his asking price on his dirt in Bricktown, or is that lot destined to stay empty?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. That has become very pricey dirt. I don't know.
Nick 10:57 a.m. When do you think the Embassy Suites in HSC will begin work?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. It should be this summer.
Nick 10:57 a.m. Are the renovations to Calvary Baptist Church complete?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. I think they've got another couple of months before they're finished. The Dan Davis Law Firm has done a remarkable job and I suspect their efforts will win some serious preservation praise and awards.
Gary T 10:58 a.m. How long until Deep Deuce starts to develop more north?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Not long at all. It's being plotted even as we speak.
Nick 10:58 a.m. What's next along 23rd St besides the Rise?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Housing.
Gary T 10:59 a.m. Any update on Steve Mason's 8th street property?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. I'm not sure.
Nick 10:59 a.m. Oh really? Anything you can share?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. No, not yet.
Gary T 10:59 a.m. Quiet zone update?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. That should be coming up any week now.
Nick 10:59 a.m. Do you track the boathouse district? When might we see the last couple of boathouses start?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. Big write up coming soon.
Nick 11:00 a.m. When does the po boy place on 9th St open?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I don't know.
Craig Shackled-by-Chains 11:00 a.m. Any more hope of getting some non-chain restaurants and attractions in OKC anytime soon? Or will we all be eating at one of 945,000 homogenized Louie's and Republic locations forever without any regard to any unique character aspect of the city???
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. Does this mean our lunch date at Chilli's is off?
Gary T 11:00 a.m. Have you been to that Guernsey restaurant behind C&J yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. No, but it looks incredible. It's on my list.
Nick 11:01 a.m. Do you know anything about the Lisbon Lofts? Are they ever going to happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. The Mode development by James Ellison is ambitious and should be great if built. But will that happen? It's been talked about for several years now. I just don't know.
Nick 11:02 a.m. Do you see the Bricktown Coach's space being taken over by a restaurant operator?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. You've got to think so.
Gary T 11:02 a.m. What's next for the Good Egg dining group?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Something ... but the Pauls aren't talking.
Nick 11:03 a.m. That actually could have been a pretty damn cool place for KD to open up his place in had we known Coach's was closing.
Kevin 11:03 a.m. JUST LOGGED IN..... Sorry I'm sure someone has asked. What if any update can you give on the Mystery Tower??? It has mysteriously disappeared from the news.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. It's still out there. Patience.
Gary T 11:03 a.m. How are the Classen condos selling?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. Some of them. I believe, were converted into apartments. I see plenty of lights on at night these days.
Craig Shackled-by-Chains 11:04 a.m. Chilli's too......will we get any more of those anytime soon? Perhaps On the Border? Seriously....can we not get a few more single, unique establishments that offer compelling fare and atmosphere that might....just might....become a defining feature of the city. Because if everything is a McDonald's, then why come here to even visit?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. How about a Mission Chinese restaurant? Yeah, I think it's entirely possible.
Nick 11:04 a.m. As for the Journal Record Building proposal, what are the holdups to that actually being permitted? Do you know why the city might be resisting?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. My understanding is talks are ongoing, and the deal is still alive. It's tricky, but I sense the city realizes this may be the best deal they can get.
TylerB 11:05 a.m. Lisbon Lofts are said to start construction this summer. According to an email, MODE said, "We expect to break ground late summer/fall and be completed sometime early in 2014."
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Well, we'll see.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. I remember Brian Fitzsimmons talking about building some homes west of the DT airpark a few years ago. Has work on that started and I just never saw anything about it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. Not to my knowledge.
Craig Shackled-by-Chains 11:06 a.m. Did you just put the two questions about the Coach's location and the Good Egg Dining Group together to suggest the new chained-out Republic will go there, without actually telling us that?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. No.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. Nick, in regard to your question: yes, I've talked to the owner, and I hope to report something soon.
Nick 11:06 a.m. Do you know of any major building projects happening on the OUHSC campus? Not hotel, but campus related.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Not as of this moment.
Gary T 11:07 a.m. Are there any updates on the BT parking garage proposal?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. Not yet. Folks are talking.
Nick 11:07 a.m. God bless you, Steve. You're the man.
Craig Shackled-by-Chains 11:07 a.m. So what chain will be going there, if not Republic? My money is on a KFC/Taco Bell split restaurant....
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. Don't you want to root for an Applebee's? Or how about a Waffle House? (At this point Craig throws a shoe at me and Tyler screams with joy over the prospect of a Waffle House overlooking the ballpark).
Guest 11:08 a.m. There isn't a harder business to get funded and make successful than a non-chain restaurant. Perhaps that's why we don't see as many as some would like.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. You speak wisely.
Nick 11:09 a.m. I asked last week, but I missed the response. What is going on with the federal plaza? What is the work they're doing?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. They're rehabbing it.
Nick 11:09 a.m. Craig needs to start a restaurant.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. I think Craig and Tyler should start up a Waffle House, and we'll turn it into an "Odd Couple" kind of sitcom...
Gary T 11:10 a.m. One more: Do you see more theatres going to what AMC Penn is doing with the large reclining chairs and free refills.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Oh, I'd love that at Harkins. I went to Penn Square theater this week to see "42." I loved it.
Nick 11:10 a.m. Brilliant!
Nick 11:11 a.m. Steve, is SandRidge still in downtown OKC this time next year?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. Nick, I really, really, really wish I could tell you I'm confident of that. But I can't.
Guest 11:11 a.m. ...but not from experience. I'd NEVER go into the restaurant business...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. Folks, I'm going to call it a day now. Have a great weekend!

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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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