OKC Central Chat transcript, Nov. 1, 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.

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: November 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm •  Published: November 1, 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 10:01 a.m. Good morning everybody.
Pat 10:01 a.m. Good Morning Steve, Please give me your best educated guess, which comes first, details for the SC site or something on the Preftakes black ? Thanks BTW, I saw the beard on your Stateline haunts story...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:02 a.m. The Stage Center tower site will come first. Expect some news to come out about it in the next 60 days. Yep, I've grown a beard. My wife and mother say they're OK with it, or at least haven't demanded I shave it, so I think I'll keep it.
Pat 10:03 a.m. SC site, Your best guess on over or under 30 floors......Thanks in advance
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. Close to 30, and let's just leave it at that.
Pat 10:03 a.m. Steve, It's being rumored that One North Hudson will be a boutique hotel, what's your opinion on these odds ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. I've been hearing housing.
Ronaldo 10:03 a.m. With all of the new residential hitting midtown, do you see a grocery store being built in the next 2 or 3 years?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Grocery shopping options will improve considerably within the next two years. That's an educated answer with some caution, not a guess.
Pat 10:05 a.m. Steve, with the numerous low rise housing developments lately, are we approaching time for a mid rise ? And if so, would this be in MidTown also ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:06 a.m. Mid-rise housing is being talked about, but I'm not sure as to whether the numbers work yet. The dirt will need to be reasonably priced. I suspect mid- to high-rise housing will most likely take place in Core to Shore.
Ronaldo 10:06 a.m. With Kevin Durant's restaurant going in is Randy Hogan done developing Lower Bricktown? Are those buildings sold or are the on long term leases built by Randy? If so who owns the surface parking? Are they free to develop after his rein is over?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Lower Bricktown still has one medium pad site by the Land Run Monument and a small pad site by the Residence Inn. The surface lots are owned by Randy Hogan, but under the review of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. As an aside, I'll note that when developers were first considered for this project, the Urban Renewal board took a strong stance against such pad style development when it was proposed by Sooner Development, a rival bidder to Hogan. Hogan's original plan, as I recall, did not allow for pad development to occur over 20 years (which is what has happened). Hogan remains in control of the surface parking.
Ronaldo 10:10 a.m. Are the PHF buildings that OU bought going to be used for biotech or are they going to turn into OU offices? It would be a shame to lose that momentum.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. I agree. I'm not sure it's entirely clear to anyone what's going to happen next.
Ronaldo 10:11 a.m. So is the rumor true that we may here news about a tower in the next 45 days?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. We might hear some new news about the tower being developed for the Stage Center site.
Justin 10:11 a.m. With the Union Bus Station now free and clear do you see an announcement on the Preftakes block coming before year end?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. Preftakes is staying pretty quiet about what he's planning next. But he's up to something. The One North Hudson building is being emptied out with the last tenants set to leave in April. He is boarding up the old Carpenter Square Theater. He has sealed up the old Dorn's office supply store and emptied out the ferrell cats living inside. The timing of all this seems to be more than coincidental.
Guest 10:13 a.m. Have you heard about a housing project coming to 12th and Shartel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:19 a.m. I'm aware that someone put out a rumor of this on the Internet with no details to back it up. More housing is coming to Midtown that has yet to be announced. Let me use this moment as an opportunity to clarify some misunderstandings. We have an interesting situation emerging where some folks are putting out information citing "sources" that directly conflicts with what I'm hearing from my sources. When I see such rumors reach a fever pitch with TV folks doing un-sourced stories about such rumors, and my readers start asking about them, I've not been shy about pointing out that what I'm hearing is in conflict. It's not meant to discredit anyone, it's not personal, and it's not some sort of reflection of what I think about the rumored development.
Steve 10:19 a.m. FYI - just realizing I've had the NewsOK Sports tag as my ID. Ugh.
Guest 10:20 a.m. What do you know about OU's new College of Medicine building?
Steve 10:21 a.m. It's a part of their master plan, and my understanding is that construction starts this next year. It will be built at Stanton Young and Phillips.
Guest 10:21 a.m. Anything new to report on GE's rumored research facility? What's the holdup on selecting a location?
Steve 10:21 a.m. There is no hold-up. Big real estate deals take time.
Guest 10:21 a.m. You mentioned in a recent chat that the next 60 days were going to be a very exciting time for downtown. Can you elaborate?
Steve 10:27 a.m. The scale and importance of the next wave of development, not just in terms of buildings, but in terms of added people to the downtown mix, the types of people being added to the mix, the advancement of downtown retail, and many more fundamental changes coming will finally begin to emerge. We're looking at changes that will truly bring life to downtown on weeknights. We're looking at a diversification of downtown's population and workforce. We're looking at 2014-2020 being an era of incredible transformation for Oklahoma City's urban core, and the public will be getting a good glimpse of all this fairly soon. Small print caveat: all of this is subject to change if Congress, the President, Wall Street or the folks at 23rd and Lincoln find a way to screw up the economy for Oklahoma City.
Guest 10:27 a.m. When do you expect Midtown Renaissance to release their plans for their 10th St block? Do you think we'll see something other than a 4 story square housing development that takes up the whole block?
Steve 10:29 a.m. Midtown Renaissance moves at their own pace, and that pace right now is already pretty fast. They have started work on the 1100 and 1101 N Broadway buildings, and are set to start work soon on a new garage and renovation of the Hotel Marion. They've started work on Fassler Hall and Dust Bowl. Everyone assumes that NW 10 and Hudson is their next project. I'm not so sure that assumption is correct. There are other projects, not yet announced, that could come first.
Gary T 10:29 a.m. Good morning Steve! Part of Pei's plan was to create the Galleria, a major retail center, for downtown. Do you ever think we will see significant density in terms of retail downtown (aka a mall) or do you see it a little more spread out like Automobile Alley or the H&8th area on Hudson?
Steve 10:31 a.m. I hope and pray a mall is NEVER built downtown. They don't work. They're not really even working that great anymore in the suburbs. One of the best things that happened downtown was that the Galleria did not get built.
I do see Automobile Alley emerging as a successful retail corridor. But even that momentum could be jeopardized if City Hall continues to indefinitely delay creation of much needed angled parking spaces being requested by Broadway merchants.
Gary T 10:31 a.m. Since Auto Alley is getting new shops about every month, do you think we are ever going to see a more pedestrian-friendly AA with angled-back in parking, not five lanes wide and perhaps some bike lanes? The angled parking was proposed several years ago but I have not heard anything about it since.
Steve 10:32 a.m. The city may someday experiment with angled back-in parking on a less traveled street, but I'm not sure City Hall engineers are ready to do so on a major corridor like Broadway.
Gary T 10:32 a.m. Can you remind us what is going in on the site of The Rise? I have heard a pizza place done by the BTT people will go in to the building north of 23rd on Walker, a seafood restaurant by A Good Egg Dining Group will go in on the NW corner of 23rd and Walker and the Pump Bar will go in to the old gas station north of 23rd on Walker. What else can we expect from this development?
Steve 10:33 a.m. We should hear an update soon.
Gary T 10:33 a.m. I know the city is in the process of acquiring the Santa Fe train station. The long term plans call from expansion into the parking lots north and south of Reno, just east of the railroad tracks. How far away are we from seeing movement on those two pieces of property?
Steve 10:33 a.m. The acquisition should be nearly complete.
Gary T 10:33 a.m. When can we start to see work on the Rock Island Plow Building begin?
Steve 10:34 a.m. The developers have filed for a building permit.
Gary T 10:34 a.m. In regards to Deep Deuce: The Maywood Flats will be built on the block north of Level where the metal building currently resides. The Maywood Apartments are currently under construction just west of that. Mosiac has broken ground on the area between the Maywood condos and the Brownstones. A Level East is proposed for the area east of Level and north of the Calvary church. The Hill homes are selling out faster than they can be sold. That pretty much takes up all the space in Deep Deuce from the train tracks to 4th street and the railroad track to 235. Where is the next logical movement for Deep Deuce? The block south of the triangle?
Steve 10:37 a.m. The old Mistletoe Express building, now home to Smith-Roberts engineering, takes up a huge block with a large one-story building and ample surface parking. It is a tempting target for developers, but I suspect the dirt won't sell cheaply. At some point we can also look to some sort of reboot taking place with the Flatiron development at 6th and Harrison abandoned by Grant Humphreys when the economic recession hit in 2009.
Terry 10:38 a.m. Good morning Steve, Both Deep Deuce and Midtown have great views of downtown, so I'm not surprised they are hot properties. What's surprising is that there were so many vacant properties before this recent wave of development began. What happened to these neighborhoods to create so many vacant lots? Was it Urban Renewal actions or were they gradually dismantled due to neglect which led to condemnation and demolition?
Steve 10:41 a.m. Good question. With Midtown, we had an area untouched by Urban Renewal. The neighborhood had a lot of homes and duplexes just 20 years ago, but many of them were falling apart, catching on fire, and ended up getting torn down. St. Anthony Hospital began to acquire a lot of these properties and essentially acted as its own Urban Renewal arm for the neighborhood until the city got involved in the late 1990s. St. Anthony continued to strategically buy up and clear properties they deemed blighted through the last decade.
Deep Deuce, on the other hand, was torn apart by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation during construction of Interstate 235. Urban Renewal also was active. By the late 1990s, Deep Deuce was a ghost - with the Calvary Baptist Church and Dr. Finley's office (now demolished and home to the new Aloft Hotel) being the last signs of life for the area.
Guest 10:41 a.m. What do you think becomes of Union Station?
Steve 10:42 a.m. Union Bus Station evolves into a restaurant, live music venue or something like that, the Union Train Station is tied into operations at the future Core to Shore park.
Guest 10:42 a.m. Has Maywood Phase II started construction yet?
Steve 10:42 a.m. No, but it's getting close.
hurley 10:43 a.m. What is the latest on the 2 professional soccer league teams attempting to be in the city?
Steve 10:43 a.m. They're still trying to make things happen behind the scenes.
Gary T 10:43 a.m. Is the movement of the Greyhound bus terminal to Reno and MLK a temporary move until the Santa Fe train station becomes a true multimodal station or is that their permanent place now?
Steve 10:44 a.m. It's wishful thinking that it is temporary, but I got no hint of that from Greyhound officials earlier this week.
Gary T 10:44 a.m. A young couple moves to OKC and asks you what area you think they should buy a home. They don't have kids and want to spend $150,000 to $200,000. Where would you suggest to them to buy?
Steve 10:44 a.m. I don't know. I'd need a lot more information to make such a recommendation.
Sid Burgess 10:44 a.m. Any thoughts on Uber?
Steve 10:45 a.m. They are in for a fight. The cabbies and limo folks don't like this set-up one bit.
Terry 10:45 a.m. I saw the latest graphics of the proposed convention center in your recent article and I'm really disappointed. I realize these are early massing studies, but the design seems so disjointed. Why build three separate buildings when one unified building would look far more impressive. This building will be the main focal point of the new Central Park, as well as for the Myriad Gardens, the Devon Tower, the Chesapeake Arena and even the new boulevard. For all the money, effort and trust the citizens of OKC have put into the MAPS programs to date, we deserve a dramatic design with interesting pedestrian experiences on all four sides, while paying particular attention to the elevations facing the new park and the Myriad Gardens. The convention center should also provide some great views outward from the center itself. Instead, it looks like they're overemphasizing a connection between the two parks at the expense of the whole design. Maybe the two parks would function better separately with the convention center acting as a buffer between them. That way, for example, if a rock concert was taking place on the Central Park oval it wouldn't conflict with a classical concert taking place at the Myriad Gardens. What's your take Steve?
Steve 10:47 a.m. My take: Oklahoma City may someday regret that the location of the park was predetermined before the MAPS 3 vote even took place and independent of any discussion of realities that might surround the park.
Steve 10:48 a.m. I'm not sure I ever saw a needs/cost analysis ever done for the park either. It's a project that was strongly promoted by Mayor Mick Cornett.
Steve 10:49 a.m. To those who hate the convention center - a needs analysis was done. It may not be up to everyone's standards, but it did take place.
Guest 10:49 a.m. You mention that Farmers Market area is on the rise... any new business
Steve 10:50 a.m. A yoga studio....
BethanySooner 10:50 a.m. With the announcement of the 10th & Shartel apartment/retail complex, and a rumored potentially large complex at 12th & Shartel (source OKCTalk.com), are you surprised that the northwest quadrant of Midtown is developing so rapidly versus the area closer to Hudson & Harvey?
Steve 10:50 a.m. I'm a bit surprised. As for NW 12 and Shartel.... I'm not verifying that to be real at this time.
Terry 10:51 a.m. How short on parking spaces is downtown right now? If we're losing opportunities to attract more business why don't they come up with some creative solutions in the meantime until new garages can be built, such as providing van transportation from the surface parking lots south and west of downtown?
Steve 10:51 a.m. The system is overbooked by about 110 percent the last time I checked. And yes, discussions are taking place about a shuttle system.
Terry 10:51 a.m. Have you heard any news as to whether or not the Sante Fe station deal is settled between the Brewers and the City? Wasn't there some stipulation with the TIGER funds that the deal needed to be closed about now?
Steve 10:53 a.m. The TIGER timeline shouldn't be hurt by the acquisition timing, which should be wrapping up shortly.
BethanySooner 10:53 a.m. What are some of the factors holding up the construction of office buildings downtown if there is such a pent up demand? We had the first announcement in February of 2012, and then rumors of as many as three or more in the pipeline and yet no announcements. Also, have any companies actually bypassed OKC recently because of the lack of office space?
Steve 10:53 a.m. Deals take time.
Terry 10:54 a.m. I haven't seen plans for Don Karchmer's Bricktown parking garage. Do you know where we can find them? I was just wondering because he's got his work cut out for him trying to accommodate future rail plans that may not even happen. Who knows maybe we won't even need the RR tracks anymore if Tesla's Elon Musk can figure out ways to transport us all in his hyperspace tubes.
Steve 10:54 a.m. He's still working on a plan that will address concerns of rail advocates while allowing construction of a garage to move forward. He is also quite serious about trying to incorporate housing into his plan.
Kelly 10:55 a.m. Is the Flat Iron project dead? I remember some drawings were posted a few years ago when the project was annouced. Very abitious, very interesting and VERY cool. I would like to see it back on track. Any chance of that happening?
Steve 10:55 a.m. Deep coma at the very least.
Guest 10:55 a.m. How are the cuts from the large energy company's in Okc affecting downtown development moving forward?
Steve 10:55 a.m. So far, downtown is fairing OK through all this. I don't see it really hurting. Not yet anyway.
Terry 10:55 a.m. With the Union Station restricted to transportation use, due to the federal grant the City received in the past, does this mean the whole building has to be dedicated to transportation? Can the City use even a small portion of it for park use or will they have to pay back the feds to have that option?
Steve 10:56 a.m. Yes, the city can pay back the federal money, as I understand it.
KevinOKC 10:56 a.m. There are still alot of signage problems on downtown streets including random I-40 directional signs pointing to the old route. The new signs at I-40 and Sheilds list downtown points of interest but, it is so small you can't read them. Who can change and update these?
Steve 10:57 a.m. It's a problem for sure. City streets department is responsible for the signage, I believe. As for the directional signs - they sure aren't as easy to read as the old wayfinding system.
T 10:57 a.m. What do you think makes Oklahoma City different than other big cities? What should architects/ developers/ businesses focus on to make Oklahoma City different than the other big cities?
Steve 10:58 a.m. Oklahoma City's charm is that it feels like a small town in a big city. Design can, and perhaps should, reflect that trait.
Guest 10:58 a.m. Steve. Regarding the retail rumor on Memorial. You tweeted Costco is going to Tulsa first, and has lost interest in the OKC market, at least at the Memorial location, due to competition from Wal-Mart/Sam's. The article published in Tulsa World did not seem to indicate that and I am certain I've seen articles published stating Costco's interest in this market more recently than the announcement of the Edmond Sam's. Has Costco really lost interest in OKC, and if so, what makes Tulsa so much more desirable for them even with its smaller size and slower growth?
Steve 11:01 a.m. It's not so much that Costco has lost interest as it is, according to my sources, that they're more comfortable testing the Tulsa market first because Tulsa's affluent population is much more concentrated in one area whereas Oklahoma City's affluent are more spread out throughout the community. My sources say Costco was looking at Memorial Road. But that there is no memorandum of understanding between the retailer and the developer at Western and Memorial, and that any interest in that site died months ago with the announcement that Sam's was set to build on I-35 in Edmond (which would sandwich a Costco store at Western Avenue between the two Sam's stores).
Ronaldo 11:01 a.m. Why would OU purchase the research park from PHF only to kill off any momentum for the local biotech community? That just doesn't make sense.
John 11:01 a.m. Steve, what do you think it is going to take to develop the Classen 10/Penn area? I drove through there the other night. There is potential, but still a long way to go.
Steve 11:02 a.m. It will take young people willing to become urban pioneers. It is happening already.
Ronaldo 11:02 a.m. Who owns the metal buildings on the northeast corner of NE 4th and Walnut. That land is one of the few remaining that could be developed that doesn't have existing structures or businesses in Deep Deuce that would be expensive to tear down/move.
Steve 11:02 a.m. Bob Meinders.
Tom 11:02 a.m. Steve, I'm familiar with the substantial investment in biotech (and other) research going on in the 13th & Lincoln area. I'm confident that research and funding will continue, if not increase.
Steve 11:02 a.m. I think you're right.
John 11:02 a.m. With all the development in Uptown do you have any predictions on where it will be in 5 years? Also, do you see any potential for the area immediately around OCU?
Steve 11:03 a.m. Uptown is going in the right direction. The street, however, is hostile to pedestrians. Changes will be needed for the area to make a complete comeback.
Ronaldo 11:03 a.m. With St.Anthony's selling land for residential. Are they planning on building all of their hospital buildings to the south after this latest expansion or just building satellite hospitals like Mercy and Integris?
Steve 11:03 a.m. Bit of both.
KevinOKC 11:04 a.m. When is the garage across from city hall expected to be completed? A lot of people are happy to see more parking in that area.
Steve 11:04 a.m. Next summer.
Kim 11:04 a.m. What's the status on the Pump Bar in Uptown? Looks like demo work is underway at The Rise, but nothing on the Pump Bar.
Steve 11:04 a.m. They had to overcome some design regulation issues with their desire to set up an old Airstream trailer as a food truck.
Midtownthunderfan 11:04 a.m. we are having a chili cookoff tommorrow and need a celebrity judge. Know of anyone who might want the position?
Steve 11:05 a.m. Heck yeah. Where and when?
Kim 11:05 a.m. Speaking of The Rise, so far we know about the 80's themed pub and the seafood restaurant. Have you heard about other possible tenants?
Steve 11:05 a.m. Yes, but the developer isn't ready to make those announcements yet.
John 11:05 a.m. Has Sandridge leased the space in the Braniff building yet? What is the timeline on completion for the former amenities building?
Steve 11:05 a.m. Not yet.
ABD 11:06 a.m. Any hope for for sale housing in the core coming online? Especially with the success of the Hill?
Steve 11:06 a.m. Yes.
Guest #1 11:06 a.m. Do you think the comments about Uber in the Oklahoman this AM will put this service in jeopardy?
Steve 11:12 a.m. No. Not necessarily. Uber is facing similar challenges in other states. Will Uber have enough of a constituency willing and ready to challenge the business interests (cabbies and limo operators) who see this service as a threat to their status quo and will try to prevent Uber from staying in business in Oklahoma City. They're definitely motivated to show up at the Corporation Commission and the city's traffic commission. Will Uber's customers show up as well? Some would say this is the situation we have with our liquor laws - that they are designed to maintain status quo for the distributors and manufacturers, and that the issue is the unhappy consumers haven't contacted their lawmakers to demand change. Money talks. But if the people are loud enough, they can drown out that influence.
Terry 11:12 a.m. Are we going to see new Central Park designs from Hargreaves soon? I'm a bit worried the City will just approve their last design without factoring in further public coment. The last round showed a Central Park that may compete with the Myriad Gardens. I'd like to see a new park that complements it instead. Many elements seem redundant with the Myriad. The large lake is great, but I wonder if it's borders are too stiff. Maybe they could design it to look more natural. One thing they should consider copying from the Myriad Gardens is to access the aquifer if possible. This would mean digging out to reach the depth of the aquifer to create the lake, but that dirt could be used to create some natural looking, rolling hills to break up the flatness of the site. They could even bring in huge boulders to create rock climbing opportunities. Even if they just created one long north-facing slope so that kids and grown kids like me could sled down it after a snowstorm or just roll down a nice grassy slope the rest of the year. I just feel like the Hargreaves design is too clean and disciplined. A good park design throws in a surprise or two for interest. That's why I don't mind a bit of chaos such as redeveloping the Film Exchange building to serve as a park restaurant/ souvenir shop/ 89er museum/ German beer garden (with the fake Alps, ie. rock climbing area nearby)/Japanese tea house/buffalo barn/shooting gallery/ bull riding arena/ Indian bingo parlor/ etc., etc. etc. Don't you agree that chaos can be a lot more fun?
Steve 11:14 a.m. Yep. Why is anyone surprised that Hargreaves has designed a park that might be seen as competing with the Myriad Gardens? Hasn't this intent been obvious from the start? Similar but bigger was what the firm explained during the MAPS 3 campaign.
Gary T 11:14 a.m. By the way, that was pure luck that you addressed the angled parking just before I asked a longer questions about it.
Nick 11:14 a.m. Is Uber going to be a success in OKC?
Steve 11:14 a.m. If it's not banned from existence....
Terry 11:15 a.m. I see a bit of concern about overbuilding hotels in Bricktown. It's a legitimate concern, but I'm not as worried as some. I think what OKC has created in Bricktown is incredible and will be more so by adding more people in the direct vicinity. The new hotels, and especially all the new housing in East Bricktown and Deep Deuce will ensure it's vitality. Even better is to see the move to add residences in the upper floors of the existing warehouses. That adds to the impression that the area is alive and kicking when visitors see activity in the upper floors day and night. All these new residents will add validity to the area and hopefully prevent it from becoming too touristy. That is the real danger I see happening to Bricktown. It has led to some OKC suburbanites turning away from Bricktown. Bricktown deserves more credit for serving as the initial impetus for OKC's resurgence. The new hotels and residents will add stability and more life to the area while making it more interesting and fun for everyone.
Steve 11:18 a.m. I'm not worried at all about the hotels. And I agree totally with the rest of your comment.
Pat 11:18 a.m. Any happening at the site for OKSEA ?
Steve 11:18 a.m. They're leasing.
Kim 11:18 a.m. Steve, how far away are we from hearing about a residential development in Uptown?
Steve 11:19 a.m. Few months maybe.
Kim 11:19 a.m. There is an entire block of boarded up house on 24th Street, just north of The Rise. Any talks of this block being sited for residential hosing?
Steve 11:19 a.m. Nothing that can be announced yet.
KevinOKC 11:19 a.m. During the Parade of Homes, I looked out some of the homes on The Hill. They are really nice. Are these the premium homes of all the downtown developments?
Steve 11:19 a.m. They are on par with the Brownstones as the nicest of the for-sale housing.
Guest 11:19 a.m. Still no word on the old Coaches location at the ballpark?
Steve 11:19 a.m. Nope.
Midtownthunderfan 11:20 a.m. Do people realize that the MLS franchise opportunity has closed? with MLS adding Orlando and now Miami, okc has very little chance of getting a franchise?
Steve 11:21 a.m. But, but, but .... two different groups want a team in OKC! Why shouldn't they battle it out until they cost the city a shot at even having a team?
Steve 11:21 a.m. Midtownthunderfan, I join you in slamming forehead against brick wall....
Terry 11:21 a.m. Where can we find the latest plans of the various schemes for the new boulevard? I'm specifically curious what they're planning to do at the intersection of Exchange, Western, Classen, Reno, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and Vine and any other streets they can throw into the mix. It's definitely a challenging intersection.
Steve 11:22 a.m. I'm curious as well. Hey. Wait. Where exactly is Hollywood and Vine located at in downtown Oklahoma City?
Guest 11:22 a.m. I agree with "Comment from Terry" about the convention center design....we need something dramatic that will add interest to our developing skyline....google pics of the Portland Oregon Convention center...what do you think?
Steve 11:22 a.m. I think others share your desire.
Terry 11:22 a.m. I've never understood the attraction to Farmer's Market other than the building itself. There's nothing around it except for industrial scrap yards. Is it because people want to see the area spruced up since it will become the western gateway to downtown?
Steve 11:23 a.m. Drive through the area again. You're lacking vision my friend.
Brandy 11:23 a.m. Steve, I saw a comment from you saying that The Aloft was scheduled to open in January, but I tried to book a large block of rooms for an event that same month and I was told by a lady who said she was the GM (very rude by the way) that they weren't opening until March or April. This property seems to have changed opening dates numerous times, should we be worried about the group running the hotel?
Steve 11:24 a.m. The developer told me last week he was looking at a January opening. As for the general manage... I'm not sure how to answer you.
Terry 11:24 a.m. What makes you think the Ambassador Hotel (old Osler) will be such a game changer?
Steve 11:24 a.m. For Midtown? Easy. It is another major anchor, and it will bring more life to the area.
Guest 11:25 a.m. I know this isn't technically your focus, but do you know what is being build on North May Ave. by the Alzheimer's Center? It looks to be a house; however, that doesn't seem to be the best spot for one.
Steve 11:25 a.m. I don't know.
Tom 11:25 a.m. Cornett v. Shadid. What's the latest on this race?
Steve 11:26 a.m. They both have fake Twitter accounts set up in each others' names to take pot shots at them and an opposition research group that we are told has NO ties to the Shadid campaign (just well-intentioned folks from out-of-town?) has filed a pretty aggressive open records request on Cornett. Convince me this race won't get nasty.
Cal McGoobaboob 11:26 a.m. Why is Rudy Construction so incredibly terrible?
Steve 11:28 a.m. Don't tempt me with questions that will get me in trouble with my bosses. Business desk is losing Jennifer Palmer today (a great reporter) and is tied up with doing three special sections. My editor doesn't need me creating any grief for him. I like my editor. He's a good man.
Thanks for playing!
Scott 11:28 a.m. Any idea on when Fassler Hall and Dust Bowl will break ground/open?
Steve 11:29 a.m. Ground has been massively broken this past couple weeks! I can't remember how long construction will take, but my guess is a year or so.
Terry 11:29 a.m. You've mentioned the Midtown Theater across from the Sieber, but I can't seem to find it. Where is it exactly and what's happening there?
Steve 11:30 a.m. It's being leased out to a church.
Guest 11:30 a.m. Do you see any development for the sw 5th and classen area?
Steve 11:31 a.m. Possibly. It depends on the ultimate design of the new boulevard.
jason 11:31 a.m. good morning Steve I am a big hockey fan any word on what they might do for any arena for the barons
Steve 11:31 a.m. I don't know. I know the city is wanting the Barons to succeed. This will become an issue, however, once the new convention center is opened in 2019.
Ronaldo 11:32 a.m. Does the city or a private person own the massive parking lot on Reno just north and east of the UHaul building. That is a huge area prime for a massive hotel or development.
Steve 11:32 a.m. That area is owned by Randy Hogan as part of Lower Bricktown.
Windfarm Applebaum 11:32 a.m. Any surprises going to come out of the planOKC symposium this afternoon, Steve?
Steve 11:32 a.m. I don't know. So I guess it's possible, right?
Gary T 11:32 a.m. Do you have any other guest bloggers coming up soon?
Steve 11:33 a.m. On OKC Central Live Chat? You bet.
Terry 11:33 a.m. In my view Project 180 is a huge success just by adding the much needed street trees to downtown. I know the process has been painful for downtowners, but I think it's a major gamechanger for downtown. Now completed areas have switched from confusing one-way traffic to two-way, with on-street parking, bike lanes, coordinated signage as well as the landscaping. With downtown definitely becoming more pedestrian friendly, do you think it can ever become the popular retail core for OKC it once was before?
Steve 11:33 a.m. Yes.
Guest 11:33 a.m. What role will the area between western and the core to shore area play in future development ?
Steve 11:34 a.m. I think the area, filled with cool old empty buildings, has tremendous potential. But the design of the future boulevard can either help that area or doom it.
Ray 11:34 a.m. So, do you know of any confirmed retail that will be in the Memorial/Western area?
Steve 11:35 a.m. Main Event, an entertainment venue, is the only confirmed retail I've heard of. Top Golf is looking at locations in Oklahoma City, but I am told there is no commitment by the group to the Western/Memorial location. I am also told there is no deal with H&M or Costco.
John 11:35 a.m. Who owns a majority of the property around Farmers Market? Are they willing to lease the building to retail/restaurants/bars in order to make the area more diverse?
Steve 11:35 a.m. There are a variety of owners. I suspect they like money as much as anyone else.
Guest 11:35 a.m. Outside of the ER expansion, is St. Anthony's planning more expansion?
Steve 11:36 a.m. Good question. I'm not sure where they are in their master plan with this latest project.
Guest 11:36 a.m. Do you know how Packard's New American Kitchen is holding up? Cool spot, but the food is spotty. When I pass by, it never seems to be busy. Hate to lose this place (especially the rooftop), but would defintiely like an improvement from current operations.
Steve 11:36 a.m. Yes, I'm hearing mixed reviews. It's tough to open a new restaurant these days - the labor pool is stretched pretty thin.
Waffleton 11:36 a.m. who owns the land where the old trolley barns are? Do any pictures exist of this site with the HQ of ORC and the trolleys/barns? I have not been able to find anything other than an old arial photo.
Steve 11:37 a.m. Which barns? I'm aware of at least a couple of surviving locations.
Guest 11:37 a.m. Are you still tracking any company relocation announcements that might benefit OKC?
Steve 11:37 a.m. Yes.
Jason 11:37 a.m. How far off in the future do you see OKC pushing to build a football stadium? If it were ever at that point wouldn't have to be with a roof? That way OKC could bid for NBA All Star games, football National Championships, Final Fours. Hopefully an NFL team!
Steve 11:37 a.m. I don't see it in my future. Not anytime soon.
Greg 11:37 a.m. What is the status of the Central Park?
Steve 11:37 a.m. It's being designed, buildings are being cleared.
Terry 11:38 a.m. Of all the future and current development, which ones do you think will bring the most benefit to OKC and downtown in particular? Project 180, the streetcar, the Boathouse District, Central Park, the updated Myriad Gardens, the new convention center, the Intermodal Transit Hub, the new boulevard, an expanded Bricktown, an expanded Bricktown canal, more connections (additional underpasses beneath the RR viaduct) linking Bricktown to downtown, fully built out Deep Deuce, fully built out Midtown, a thriving and revitalized Farmer's Market, demolition of the Cox Convention Center to allow new mixed-use development (to include extension of Broadway to Reno), reestablishment of Broadway as downtown's retail corridor, Devon Tower, Stage Center Tower, Indian Cultural Center or any others you can think of? As you can see I added a few from my own wish list. Also which one's do you think will have the least impact or God forbid even a negative impact?
Steve 11:39 a.m. I think you have a good list. I think a poorly designed, poorly thought-out Core to Shore park could have a pretty sad impact on that area's redevelopment.
BethanySooner 11:39 a.m. Have any companies actually bypassed OKC recently because of the lack of office space, or are they just in waiting mode?
Steve 11:40 a.m. Meh. it's more complicated than that. But yeah, we've missed out on some opportunities due to a variety of reasons including a tight office market with tight parking supply.
Guest 11:40 a.m. What's next in the pipeline for Bricktown?
Steve 11:40 a.m. Entertainment venues.
Terry 11:40 a.m. How serious is the current situation with the planning dept. and the loss of so many talented planner? What actually led to their departure?
Steve 11:41 a.m. The planning department has lost several key, talented individuals and the bleeding isn't done yet. It's serious. We have a City Hall that is run by engineers, and those who have left planning say that is a major reason for the department's misfortunes.
Steve 11:42 a.m. We have a city council, ironically, that cares about planning. Yet I've not observed them to take an interest in this situation.
vowl 11:42 a.m. In 100 years will people see OKC as an example of architecture from the 1990-2020 era?
Steve 11:45 a.m. No. Other cities have done far more with far more ambition. I'm sorry to say that. We've done great relative to our past. But we're not in the lead here. Show me what is daring and innovative in the design of the Core to Shore park and Bicentennial Park. The boathouses on the Oklahoma River are ambitious. Devon Energy Center is a home-run. But too many other developments fit the saying of an old friend of mine - "Better than crappy makes us happy."
Terry 11:46 a.m. I got a real kick when you actually ate breakfast and set up your morning chat at a Waffle House and Tyler wasn't even paying attention that day. Gotta love it.
Steve 11:46 a.m. Yes. Tyler has been missing out on the chat the past couple months, but still follows me on Twitter. He amused me enough that I'd like to meet him.
vowl 11:46 a.m. farmers market and capitol hill are the coolest places that need some love.
Jimbo Elrod 11:47 a.m. Is this your favorite part of the week? Answering questions?
Steve 11:47 a.m. Friday night when I go to sleep and can sleep in on Saturday.
Guest 11:47 a.m. How are you keeping up with the chat and tweeting at the same time? How many hands and eyeballs do you have!?!
Steve 11:48 a.m. I don't know.
Terry 11:48 a.m. How much was spent on the Myriad Gardens restaurant? Is there any interest yet from restaurant operators? I know you've been somewhat critical of it's planning and design due to the fact it turns it's back to the pedestrians and drivers on Robinson, then expects to attract white linen diners. Is there any way they could open up the Robinson side and give it more street presence?
Steve 11:48 a.m. Millions. It will be operated by the folks who own Boulevard Steakhouse.
Steve 11:48 a.m. Fix: Cafe 501
John 11:48 a.m. Steve, can you give us your Top Building Landmarks (Buildings that are of historic interest) for the following districts? Bricktown, Deep Deuce, Midtown, Auto-Alley, Uptown, Plaza, Western, Farmers?
Steve 11:50 a.m. Bricktown: Iten Biscuit Co. (it's hidden under the aluminum siding of the U-Haul operation). Deep Deuce: Calvary Baptist Church. Midtown: tie- Sieber, Plaza Court, Osler). Auto Alley: Hotel Marion, Uptown: Gold Dome. Plaza District: Lyric Theater. Western Avenue: Crown Heights church. Farmers - Farmers Market.
Gary T 11:50 a.m. Let me rephase that: What other guest bloggers can we expect to come up on the OKC Central blog or this chat?
Steve 11:51 a.m. I've invited some guests to blog, but they don't follow through after saying yes.
Guest 11:51 a.m. Can you check in with St. Anthony's and see what's in the pipeline? Maybe a blog post about it?
Steve 11:51 a.m. yep
guest 11:51 a.m. Any chance that Urban Renewal wilL force Randy Hogan to build structured parking and release some of the Lower Bricktown surface parking for more dense development. Is there a way for citizens to lobby Urban RenewaL on this.
Steve 11:51 a.m. Force? No. Encourage? Maybe.
Guest 11:51 a.m. Of the company relocations you're tracking, do you see any actually happening?
Steve 11:52 a.m. Yes.
Grumpy Cat 11:52 a.m. Thank you for clarifying your stance on rumors and sources. You often come across as a Grumpy Cat and it's very conflicting of you in real life. You stating your stance helps me better understand where you're coming from.
Steve 11:55 a.m. Yeah. I'm sorry about that. Truth time: I've not been sleeping well for the past several weeks. I'm working to get that resolved. So if I've been coming off as a grumpy cat - well, heck, yeah I probably have - now you know why. I apologize. That's the problem with this era for journalism. You get to see more of the reporter. We're real people. We have good weeks. We have bad weeks. I'm also dealing with a situation where readers are going with multiple sources of information (which is good) but don't always realize that some information sources play by different rules. They're not good or bad - it's just different.
Terry 11:55 a.m. Steve, I like your idea of putting the Humphrey's Ferris Wheel in the new Central Park. I've seen comments of even a carousel could be added as well which would be great too. The new Central Park is so big it will need something to attract people that they can't find at the much more intimate Myriad Gardens. What's your take on the whole idea of the Central Park? I like it, but not at the expense of ruining the Myriad experience. Plus it's going to cost a fortune to maintain.
Steve 11:55 a.m. I think my prior comments are sufficient.
Guest 11:55 a.m. Are we getting closer to having you tell us about the project that you're most excited about for OKC? You've mentioned it a couple of times, but never stated what it was, but it's been 30 days and you said you'd share.
Steve 11:56 a.m. It's delayed. But I'm not worried.
Chris 11:56 a.m. Steve - do you know if Cabelas is in fact looking at locations anywhere in the metro area?
Steve 11:57 a.m. This is one part of the Western/Memorial deal that's a bit murkier to me. It may have some truth to it.
Terry 11:57 a.m. Will we ever see another seafood tenant return to the old Herman's Seafood Restaurant at Classen and 16th? I loved that place in it's heyday.
Steve 11:57 a.m. Yeah. I wish. It's not for lack of trying.
Guest 11:57 a.m. Steve, you bring up the planning crisis for downtown OKC often, but you rarely offer suggestions as to how this can be remedied. Mick Cornett, Shadid, Wegner, Couch, none of them answer to the common person who wants better planning.
Steve 11:58 a.m. The remedy is with you, my friends. Show up at Plan OKC meetings. Talk to your council members. Tell them what you want.
Terry 11:58 a.m. Steve, you've mentioned many times how MAPS3 did not account for operations and maintenance for the current projects. How were the previous MAPS different and able to avoid this problem? Or did they?
Steve 11:58 a.m. The original MAPS program had use tax funds reserved for such purposes. The MAPS 3 use tax went into the general fund and much of it went for public safety needs.
Guest 11:59 a.m. Have you ever used the chat to ask yourself a question, anonymously of course, that wasn't getting asked but you were dying to answer?
Steve 11:59 a.m. Never. That would be dishonest.
Grumpy Cat 11:59 a.m. If you feel that someday OKC may someday regret the location of the park before the MAPS3 vote, then where would you envision the park being better located, in a dream world of course?
Steve 11:59 a.m. I wonder if the park wouldn't have been better designed linking up with the Myriad Gardens someway.
Guest 12:00 p.m. What's the holdup on the 235 - 10th St redo of the offramp?
Steve 12:00 p.m. Don't know.
Waffleton 12:00 p.m. The barns by the farmers market on the corner of exchange and 4th I think?
Steve 12:00 p.m. I've seen them. They are cool. I might do a blog on what I saw.
Ed 12:00 p.m. A large artificial stone monolith in the central park would make it a unique park. You can create activities inside and the outside surface area of the structure and add to the beauty of the park. Don't just copy other parks.
Guest 12:00 p.m. To me Denver's emphasis on urban renewal has sort of paralleled Oklahoma City's. How would you rate OKC's development relative to Denver's?
Steve 12:00 p.m. We are at least 10 years behind Denver.
Guest 12:01 p.m. Here's your chance: what's something you're dying to tell us?
Steve 12:01 p.m. It's noon. I need to end this chat.
Steve 12:01 p.m. 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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