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OKC Central Chat transcript, May 3, 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 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm •  Published: May 3, 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 9:57 a.m. Today I've got a meeting at 11 a.m., so this chat will be ending promptly at just before the end of the hour. Let's get started....
william 9:57 a.m. I have seen billboards around town promoting Dallas. Just curious about the origin and reason
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. It's likely the billboards are paid for by the Dallas convention and visitors bureau. Keep in mind, there's a lot of competition for tourist dollars in this region. We routinely see special advertising sections in The Oklahoman paid for by interests in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. So this is just part of that competition.
Andrew 9:59 a.m. Good morning, Steve. What, if anything, do you see happening with the lots north and northeast of the Calvary Baptist Church in Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:01 a.m. We will almost certainly see more housing built to the north and east of the former Calvary church. Much of the property was recently bought by Level developer Richard McKown, with the remainder of the block being owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. As an aside, the renovation of the old church into the Dan Davis Law Firm is nearing completion and the project is pretty impressive.
Snake Plissken 10:01 a.m. Hi, Steve. Any idea when we will see dirt start moving for the Central Park? I know they have an estimated timeline as part of the MAPS3 implementation plan, but it seems the sooner they move on it, the sooner new development surrounding the park will begin.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. Hey Snake, I hope all is well for you following your escapes from New York and L.A. (New York was far more impressive).
The Core to Shore park project is almost certainly not going to follow the timeline of opening in 2014 as pushed by Mayor Mick Cornett. The Salvation Army has yet to start construction of their new campus at NW 10 and Pennsylvania Avenue, and that move has to take place for the organization to move from its current location in the heart of what will be the park. To top it off, the construction of the adjoining boulevard is delayed at least a year as well. Will we even see construction of the park begin in 2014? Maybe?
Ebenezer 10:06 a.m. What new and exciting retail development does the city have to look forward to?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. We're continuing to see a lot of smaller clothing and gift shops opening up along Automobile Alley. This is actually very healthy and far more exciting than say a Nordstrom's opening up in Core to Shore (sorry folks, it's not going to happen). Retail by its very nature is changing. The kind of retail that is opening up along Broadway is, according to those I speak to, the future for downtown shopping.
Ebenezer 10:08 a.m. Is anyone trying to fill Classen Curve and Nichols Hills Plaza? I heard a lot of the current Classen Curve tenants are planning to get out ASAP because it has been half full for so long.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. I've been told by several sources that Nichols Hills Plaza is in play - that if Chesapeake isn't actively selling it, there are developers actively trying to buy it. Not hearing the same buzz about Classen Curve, but that's not to say it won't be sold. All of this adds to the uncertainty, but could signal opportunity in the future.
Guest 10:10 a.m. Mystery Tower?! Any new hints of what's to come???
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. I'm not worried.
Ebenezer 10:10 a.m. Is anything planned for the giant former car lot on the corner of May Avenue and I-44?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Not to my knowledge. But that's more a question for Real Estate Editor Richard Mize. (He says he's not aware of anything either)
Ebenezer 10:11 a.m. Who owns the shopping center at 30th and May Avenue? It's a disgrace and needs to either be leveled or cleaned up. Can the city make business owners do something about eyesore property like this?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. Not really.
Andrew 10:12 a.m. Will the mural on the Rock City Silo only be on the South side or is the artist painting the entire structure?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. It's my understanding that Rick Sinnett is doing murals on both sides of the silo.
Snake Plissken 10:12 a.m. I was recently in Native Roots and the Level Urban developer Richard McKown was in there talking to some people, saying that he was running into some trouble with his new development, Mosaic. He didn't say who (e.g., the city), but said people were throwing up roadblocks and giving him headaches, causing a delay. Do you know anything about that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. It's likely just typical developer complaints. On a different morning on a different day, you would have heard any number of developers making similar noises. It's why they make the big bucks.
Casey 10:13 a.m. Do you think the loss of Russell Westbrook from the Thunder will have an effect on downtown development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. None. Westbrook is injured, not dead. And downtown development is predicated on far more than the Thunder going to the finals.
BethanySooner 10:14 a.m. Steve, you mentioned last week that construction on the central park was set to begin in 2014. Every timeline that I have seen pointed to the first half of this year. Has the project been pushed back?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. As I mentioned earlier, the park timeline is obviously not going to hold. It's just the way it is.
Pat 10:15 a.m. Hi Steve, What kind of probability that we'll see a high rise residential project within the next 3 years ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Make it five years and I'll say the odds are very good.
Pat 10:15 a.m. Still not worried about the Mystery Tower ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. I'm not worried - at all.
Marva 10:15 a.m. Will a shortened Thunder season have a negative effect on downtown/Bricktown development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. So have we all assumed that the Thunder are losing the next two games? Folks, downtown development is far more sophisticated than the team's win-loss record. Downtown was booming when the Thunder won only 23 games. Downtown will be just fine regardless of whether the Thunder get into the finals. Enjoy having a great team, and don't get too spoiled.
Dan 10:17 a.m. Good morning, Steve! I remember reading somewhere that the old downtown library (now the Carnegie, I think) was going to be renovated into housing. Is that still on track?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Dan, that's an excellent question. The last I heard, developer Judy Hatfield was looking at renovations starting this last month. I'll check and see if that has indeed taken place.
BethanySooner 10:18 a.m. On the boulevard design they showed some changes which could occur in the area surrounding the Farmer's Market. One item I was curious about was the 'modified' streets and intersections which included Klein and SW 2nd street. Do you know if this refers to streetscaping in that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. It means there will be modifications. Whether this will involve streetscapes is still uncertain - though I think momentum is moving in that direction.
BethanySooner 10:18 a.m. Do you know whether the employees of Boeing from Long Beach and Wichita have relocated to OKC yet? Also, what about Devon's Houston employees?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. The Boeing employees have been making the move, but the numbers have been in flux due to the sequestration. I'm not sure about the status of the Devon employees ...
Guest 10:19 a.m. Hi steve what do you think will happen in the Skirvin partners llc vs Marcus hotels law suit? Maybe a rebranding of the hotel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Look at the Skirvin lawsuit much as you would a really heated fight between and old married couple. It's easy to overplay the argument, but the outcome can be quite unpredictable. I know, that's not the clear cut answer you were looking for, but it's the best I've got.
Roger 10:21 a.m. Any speculation of a new high rise loft/condo in downtown OKC's future?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Give it five years.
Chris 10:21 a.m. Do you know if the downtown transit center on NW 5th will move/integrate with the Santa Fe mass transit depot?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. I'm told it won't easily fit in with the Santa Fe depot, though I wouldn't be surprised if there's an effort to move the transit center because it's current location is far more valuable as a potential development site.
BethanySooner 10:22 a.m. With the Sandridge announcement that the Braniff Building and the new Parkside Building will be leasable office space, do you think that tips the decision more toward housing for Rick Dowell's tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Rick Dowell, I suspect, now has to give housing far more serious consideration in light of this changing situation.
Roger 10:23 a.m. Two questions: Any movement when it comes to a new residential high rise for downtown and what's the latest on the streetcar development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. See prior answers on the high rise. Discussion continues on the streetcar routes, and a debate is brewing over whether the project should proceed as planned (though I'll be shocked if it's scrapped).
Tim 10:24 a.m. Any news on new high end hotels I.E. Four diamond and up?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. The only new high end hotel I see being developed downtown is a conference hotel to be built with the new convention center - and that won't be cheap for the city, which will be asked to participate in its financing.
BethanySooner 10:25 a.m. Other than the potential 'Mystery Tower' company, without naming names, are you aware of any other large to midsize businesses that are looking to relocate to OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Yes.
Guest 10:25 a.m. Two questions: Are we any closer to high rise residential in downtown and is the streetcar really going to happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. See prior answers.
CWJ 10:26 a.m. If you were a betting man, and knew a quirky bookie that took bets on OKC civic issues, would you bet on a quite zone for Automobile Alley?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. Absolutely.
BethanySooner 10:26 a.m. Who exactly is the Main Street parking garage going to accomodate as far as parking? It seems like a lot of spaces for the current area with the parking garages that are already over there.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. The last count I heard was 830 spaces. The parking system is over capacity, and the influx of new companies and housing is not expected to slow down anytime soon.
Chris 10:28 a.m. Are you worried about the 2nd mystery tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. There's a second mystery tower? Why didn't I get the memo on this?
Paul 10:29 a.m. Any final decision on the route of the trolley? What about the hub location?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Negotiations are ongoing between the city and owners of the Santa Fe depot for development of the hub. As for the trolley route, see prior answers.
Gary T 10:29 a.m. Happy Friday Steve! Sorry for the late check in. When are we going to see more movement on The Rise? Related question: I know there is a plan for a restaurant on the SW corner of 24th and Walker, but what about the three other buildings surrounding The Rise property? Are there any plans for them?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. The contents of the hotel/motel furniture liquidator's store were being emptied out this past week. The Rise, forgive me, is about to rise. There is a great plan for the old Texaco just north, which I wrote about in a story two weeks ago.
Gary T 10:31 a.m. Your article about the quiet zone on Wednesday stated there was $900,000-$1,400,000 funding gap. What do you think would be the best source for funding the gap?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Don't be surprised if the city council is asked to tap into unassigned bond funds to cover the gap.
Gary T 10:31 a.m. What are the chances the area above the Velvet Monkey in the Plaza District becomes a viable outdoor gathering space like the one above Rawhide on Automobile Alley?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. In the Plaza District, anything is possible. That would be a fun rooftop, wouldn't it?
Gary T 10:32 a.m. I saw that two more homes were approved for the SOSA district. How many homes can we expect to start this year in this distrcit?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. At last count, I think there are about a half dozen in various stages of planning.
Gary T 10:32 a.m. I drove by where the new parking garage will be going on Main Street. When is it expected to be completed and have they made a decision on whether or not to put apartments on top of it?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. Construction will take about one year. We'll find out about developer interest soon. But I'm not certain we'll see any responses.
Worthy 10:33 a.m. While I agree that it should be built, why do so many people give the leaders of the AICCM a pass. There clearly was a lack of leadership in managing and overseeing the project, despite no negligence found. There HAS to be blame.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. Yes, but lawmakers are often loathe to look at themselves in a mirror.
Guest 10:34 a.m. Any word/information on development of the area between I-235 & Broadway, north of 10th street?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. Nothing concrete yet.
Gary T 10:35 a.m. There used to be two homes to the west of the Braum's on 17th and Classen. I heard they were removed for the building of a new Braums on that corner. Any truth to that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. I'm aware of the rumor.
John 10:36 a.m. Thackerville's skyline now has three 14+ story buildings thanks to Winstar. Do you see southern Oklahoma's population growing with Winstar's growth along with new jobs in Ardmore with the massive Dollar Tree warehouse expansion?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Ardmore has long been a quiet economic powerhouse for the state - even if it's not well understood outside that region. I'm not sure about population trends there, but the city certainly has had good momentum going for the last decade.
Nick 10:38 a.m. Steve, your recent article about the quiet zone was mostly encouraging, but what kind of timeline do you think we're looking at for getting it started? Will we see a quiet zone started by the end of this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. No, under the best case scenario, I have trouble seeing a quiet zone becoming a reality in less than two years. Dealing with a railroad is a slow, time consuming process.
Snake Plissken 10:40 a.m. Speaking of the Skirvin, do you think there is any chance the Skirvin will expand and building a new tower north of its current location. I know they proposed that before, predicated on the location of the new convention center being located in north Bricktown, but do you think it could still be a possibility given the thriving downtown hotel market?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. It's possible. The owners would love to see such a scenario take place.
Gary T 10:41 a.m. What's the latest on the Staybridge Suites proposal?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Construction is set to start this summer.
John 10:41 a.m. What do you know about a possible riverside amphitheater?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. I had a story on this in Tuesday's paper:
Guest 10:42 a.m. There's something going on south of St. Anthony hospital in the lot on the NE corner of 8th and Dewey. This isn't the site of the ER expansion which is to the north next to Kaiser's. Do you know what they're doing?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. Yes, that's where the new parking lot will be built.
Terry 10:42 a.m. Any word on any potential occupants of the space formerly desired to be a "white tablecloth" restaurant at the Myriad Gardens?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. Nope.
Pat 10:43 a.m. Any large caruosel's coming to Bricktown any time soon ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Not to my knowledge.
Guest 10:43 a.m. Are you worried about the future of Nichols Hills Market and Classen Curve as quality retail/dining destinations? Some days it seems like Nichols Hills Market is turning into Crossroads and with what I've heard about Classen Curve that has me quite worried. What has been the problem with these developments realizing their full potential?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. See my answer earlier in this chat.
Guest 10:43 a.m. Anything new in regards to the canal front property that's owned or was owned by Chris Johnson? Such a prime piece of real estate, something has to be brewing.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. He's trying to do some deals. The dirt has become very, very pricey through various flips and we're witnessing the rules of real estate instilling some harsh reality into Bricktown development.
Gary T 10:44 a.m. What more can you tell us about the Cajun/Po-buy place going in where Pachinko Parlor used to be?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. It's my understanding the restaurant will be operated by the folks who own S&B Burgers.
Gary T 10:45 a.m. Do you think the temporary amphitheatre at the DT airpark will help with the Humphrey's development of that area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Not really.
Gary T 10:45 a.m. Any chance we will see something happen to the old Marco's Mexican Restaurant on 16th and Classen? With the Plaza district picking up steam, I would think a good restaurant there would do well for the neighborhood.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. Yes, but so far the owners seem oblivious to what is going on around them.
Tyler 10:46 a.m. Steve,any idea about development between the future Aloft Hotel and the existing Clark building in the Deep Deuce Area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. The couple who own the Clark building are tearing down the one-story wood frame railroad house to create a surface parking lot.
Nube 10:47 a.m. I for one appreciate anti-smoking laws in establishments. Recently electronic cigs have shown up everywhere. Have you heard any rumblings abour legislation in our city blocking these? I have seen people inside the "Peake" usings them and it looks so tras.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. No, but this is a good question.
Gary T 10:47 a.m. I know Dallas is making a huge push for the 2024 Olympics. If they get it, do you see Oklahoma stream lining funding for a light rail to Dallas for tourism dollars?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. I think an Olympics for Dallas could be wonderful for Oklahoma City - especially if a high speed rail corridor is established in that time period (which is entirely possible). A high speed rail corridor could make OKC a secondary hotel market for the Olympics.
Jeffrey 10:49 a.m. Good Morning Steve, Do you see Howard Pollack's Concert Venue along the river as complementary to the developing music scene in Bricktown or as something that could be in competition with the district?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. I don't know... I do like the direction Bricktown is going, especially with the maturation of ACM@UCO.
Pete 10:49 a.m. what is being constructed at Memorial and Western, Se corner?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. An On Cue gas station.
South OKC Guest 10:49 a.m. I noticed the lumber building south of the U-Haul building and north of the Farmer's Co-op is for sale. The surrounding area is frequently used as free overflow parking for busy Bricktown events. Any chance this land could be acquired and further developed as a Bricktown expansion area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. Yes, but it won't be cheap. So don't get your hopes up too much for something happening anytime soon.
BTown 10:50 a.m. This mystery tower, could it possibly be a new energy making the move to OKC? and if so are the plans for the construction to be more then what Devon has already done for themselves and the city?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I guess we'll have to wait to find out, won't we?
Gary T 10:51 a.m. There was a proposal in 2002 to restore the Farmer's Market. It was supposed to completed within four years and cost $4 million. Do you know if anything like what they proposed was done?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Gary, Better Block OKC is holding festivities at Farmers Market tomorrow. You should go and see the improvements!
Tyler 10:52 a.m. Good morning, Steve. It's me, Tyler. Just wanted to stop in and say what's good and keep up the good work. Dueces
MB 10:52 a.m. A high speed rail connection to Dallas at a price tag of multi-billion dollars for a two-week event like the Olympics? That hardly makes sense . . .
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. In that context, well, yeah....
South OKC Guest 10:52 a.m. This is several hundred miles off topic but in your humble opinion, Steve, what is the percentage likelihood that Tulsa will win the 2024 Summer Olympic bid?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. I think I've got better odds of winning a $220 million powerball lottery.
Tyler 10:53 a.m. What has come of the waffle house situation?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. There is one opening next to your house Tyler. Haven't you heard?
Kevin Durant 10:53 a.m. What's the Waffle House situation? You haven't addressed this yet today.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. It's opening next to Tyler's home. I look forward to visiting with both you of there when it's open.
Gary T 10:54 a.m. Tyler, I once saw a Waffle House with the "W" out and it was very accurate...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Alright folks, and with that bit of nonsense, I'm logging out now. Have a great weekend.
by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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