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OKC Central Chat transcript, Sept. 20, 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: September 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm •  Published: September 20, 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 11:03 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. I've got Chip Fudge, pioneer developer of Film Row along W Sheridan Avenue as my guest this morning. We are logged in to today's OKC Central Live Chat from Chopt, the new coffee and sandwich shop on the southeast corner of Shartel in Sheridan at the Hart Building. Questions and comments about Film Row will get priority order this morning.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. Good morning Steve! Chip, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to talk to us normies.
Gary T 11:05 a.m. Chip, what do you think is the biggest thing holding Film Row back? Is the homeless population nearby?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. CHIP: I don't believe the homeless population is holding us back. We have a great collaboration with Tom Jones, director at City Rescue Mission. As we've redeveloped real estate, the homeless folks have not been an issue. The surprise to me is that it has been a non-issue.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. By the way.... this is not Scott Wright.... another Cover it Live quirk. Sorry folks. We've seen it before!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. TIFFANY, CAN YOU FIX THIS IN THE TRANSCRIPT? (Tiffany is Scotty on this USS Enterprise journey)
Dan 11:08 a.m. This question is for Chip-- When looking at the planned streetcar routes, it didn't appear that Film Row was going to be serviced by it. Do you think this will hinder or help spur development for Film Row?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:09 a.m. CHIP: The initial streetcar route did involve Film Row. Unfortunately the last iteration left us out. I think it would be a great benefit to have a streetcar in our district. Hopefully whenever a renovation of the Fred Jones plant is done, this issue can be revisited.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. STEVE: Was it a disappointment that the OCU Law School decided to reverse its decision to move into the old Fred Jones building?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:11 a.m. CHIP: It was a huge disappointment to me. With that said, I am thrilled they have the presence in the old Central High School. I also believe that the Fred Jones Manufacturing building will be a great rehabilitation project for some entity. It has to come. It is one of the greatest buildings in Oklahoma City in my opinion.
Ronaldo 11:11 a.m. Chip, what are your thoughts of the Film Exchange buildings in Central Park? Can they be saved?
Tiffany 11:12 a.m. Yes, I'll fix the transcript. No worries. Keep chatting!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. CHIP: I would really like to see it saved. I believe it can be saved. Unfortunately I've been out of the loop on this because I've been out of town.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. STEVE; Thanks Tiffany!
Gary T 11:13 a.m. Chip, how long until you see Film Row development expanding up to Main or down to California?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:14 a.m. CHIP: I've been trying to acquire buildings on both streets. My biggest disappointment was not acquiring the Main Street Arcade which I think would have been perfect to retrofit. Right now I'm trying to acquire buildings on California Avenue.
Guest 11:14 a.m. What are the highlights of Film Row? Joeys, Chopts, what else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. CHIP: No. 1 - DeadCENTER Film Festival. And now KOSU. IAO Gallery. The event space at The Exchange. The Paramount.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. STEVE: I will add that FIlm Row is now hosting a monthly art walk festival called "Art Walk Premiere." Tonight, many of you will be thrilled to learn that food vendors will include the legendary Bobo's.If you've not heard of Bobo's, it is the most popular and happiest way to cut a year or two off your life span.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. CHIP: We also host the annual Gay Pride Parade, we also hosted a nationally sanctioned bike race in June and we hope to have it return next year.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. STEVE: Film Row is no longer Skid Row.
Terry 11:19 a.m. Hey Chip, What's happening development-wise on Film Row right now and what type of development would you be most excited to see on Film Row or nearby? By the way I knew a girl in high school named Candy Fudge. You're not related are you? Both of you have great names by the way.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. CHIP: I am not related to Candy Fudge, though I know everything about her because people often ask me about her. She is an architect in Denver.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. CHIP: We are completing the sliver building, which should be occupied in December. It will be home to Butzer-Gardener Design. In the first quarter of next year we will start work on the 800 W Sheridan building, which is a pre-statehood building just west of Hart. We're excited about the new school currently going up two blocks east of us and a law firm is building a new building between the school and Film Row.
Jane 11:21 a.m. Chip, what is your vision for film row in 10 years? Do you see it more as a boutique office district or more of a restaurant/bar scene? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. CHIP: Honestly, I'm not sure. My goal is to restore the old buildings, hopefully attract a creative class of tenant, and if the bar and restaurant scene develops, that's a win for our district.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. STEVE: How many people now work along Film Row?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. CHIP: (adding it up now).... I'm guessing it's between 400 and 500.
Jane 11:23 a.m. Chip, do you see any speculative building renovations happening anytime soon along film row?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. CHIP: Yes, as mentioned, the 800 W Sheridan Building. My goal is to make the front third of it restaurant or retail, and on the back, half of one building will be a garage for my motorcycles and the other will be storage space.
Chad 11:25 a.m. Chip, what is the end goal for Film Row? Do you see a true mixed use area with residential and retail along with the restaurants and offices there now? Or, do you think it will continue to be mostly business due to the proximity to the CBD?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. CHIP: I would love for there to be some residential here. But it's so much cheaper to building commercial space compared to residential space. I'm hoping other developers will build residential in our area.
Gary T 11:26 a.m. Chip, what do you see as the best use for the Fred Jones Plant and how long until it happens?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:27 a.m. CHIP: I don't own it. But I believe it would make excellent living/loft space. It would be excellent space for a university or commercial offices.
Ted R. 11:27 a.m. What is the future of CMR and the old CMR building on Classen? What do you hope Film Row will be in 5 years?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. CHIP: I sold that building seven years ago. The current owner is looking for tenants or a buyer.
Guest 11:28 a.m. Chip Would you favor a special tax on Film Row Properties to fund street car operations there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. CHIP: I believe the BID tax is sufficient for what we're doing.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. STEVE: Chip led in the expansion of the Business Improvement District to pay for irrigation and maintenance of new landscaping added as part of the reconstruction of Sheridan Avenue. Without that assessment, the landscaping would not have been included by the city.
Jane 11:30 a.m. Chip, what would you like to see in the final design of the downtown boulevard? I think it has potential to really tie the west side of Oklahoma City in with the core.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. CHIP: I prefer the previous plan for a grand boulevard - I don't want the Interstate dumping traffic out on to California Avenue as proposed in the grid plan (where the boulevard is not built and instead the state and city simply use the existing street grid).
Mark 11:31 a.m. Chip, with the announcement of the Stage Center Tower do you see mid to high rise projects in the future moving west into the film district area or heading south towards core/shore? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. CHIP: Actually both, because that's where the vacant land happens to be.
Mark 11:32 a.m. Chip, what was your initial attraction to this part of town, and what were your first steps when you decided to really get involved in the revitalization of this part of town?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:33 a.m. CHIP: The cool Art Deco and mid-century modern style of buildings here were what initially drove me to the area. I wanted a place to be a headquarters for our companies and the Hart building seemed a perfect place to do that if we could redevelop the rest of the street appropriately.
OK Joe 11:35 a.m. Regarding the City Rescue Mission and future development; have you had any conversations regarding the impact that the opening of the new Salvation Army center on 10th/Penn will have on migrating the homeless population being serviced by the City Rescue Mission? I.E. if the City Rescue becomes more of a long-term transitional/residential center for low-income families how does that change the potential future development of California Ave between the Myriad Gardens and Classen Ave.?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. CHIP: I think that's a positive opportunity for redevelopment of California Avenue.
Mark 11:35 a.m. Who is scott wright?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. STEVE: Not me.
Terry 11:36 a.m. Hey Chip, Who designed the Film Row streetcapes at the 3 intersections (Shartel, Lee and Dewey)on Sheridan? The film motif is really cool.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. CHIP: David Wanzer. I like it. He is a designer who offices with Hans Butzer and Jeremy Gardener and Laurant Massenat. David originally brought the concept of redeveloping the Film Exchange building to me and was looking at me to invest and shared the story of the district with me. Now we are partners in the Sliver building project that is going up just east of the Hart Building.
Tom 11:38 a.m. When is the art walk (day/time)?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. CHIP: I believe it starts at 6 p.m.
Ronaldo 11:39 a.m. Chip, what are your thoughts on the Taco Bell and Sonic that create the end of the potential development of the very urban Film Exchange district? Can they be purchased and torn down?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. CHIP (he is trying to laughing now): Call Cliff Hudson.
OK Joe 11:40 a.m. How does the development of the new tower at Stage Center influence your vision for film row along the Eastern part of California Ave? Will it naturally be the first place to look for upcoming renovations/infill?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. CHIP: I consider myself a preservationist. Because of that I am disappointed we will likely lose Stage Center. With that said, I was on the board of the Arts Council and recognize what a financial disaster it was to keep operational. I believe Rainy Williams will do an outstanding job of adding to our skyline with his vision if the tower gets built. I believe this makes California Avenue more likely to be developed and obviously much more valuable.
Mark 11:42 a.m. Chip, beyond film row what comes to mind when you think of oklahoma city in 2030?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. CHIP: As one who grew up watching our central business district being vacated during my early years, it thrills me to see our urban core being redeveloped in such a fun, cool interesting way. I believe developers like Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg, Steve Mason, Marva Ellard are doing a great job of spearheading our individual districts. It's exciting what I see happening over the next several years.
Terry 11:44 a.m. A place called Film Row should have a movie theater don't you think?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. CHIP: We do! We have a screening room at The Paramount. We have the deadCENTER Film Festival and our Friday night previews will show outside screenings on the outside wall of the Paramount (including tonight).
Kim 11:45 a.m. Chip, you mentioned that if a bar opens up in the Film District that's a win. But are you actively looking for a bar for one of your properties? Are you open to the idea of a bar in one of your properties? The reason I ask is because I've heard of several owners looking to open a bar in the Film District, but didn't receive warm welcomes. Thanks for your time this morning.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. CHIP: I would love to have a bar in the Film District. I'd be happy to talk to anyone who wants to call me.
Guest 11:46 a.m. Any chance you can get ahold of the old "Irwin" building across the street from 800 W. Sheridan (north side of Sheridan) and remove the group of guys that sit on the stoop dealing narcotics all day?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:46 a.m. CHIP: I would love to. It's on my list to visit with Bob Irwin about. Just haven't gotten there yet.
Guest 11:47 a.m. I drove by the Deep Rock Building the other day. Any plans for that property? It looks like an interesting space.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. CHIP I own it, it's currently leased to a catering company.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. TIFFANY, CAN YOU ALTER THE 11:46 answer to show it was from Chip? Thanks
Jane 11:48 a.m. Chip, do you have any interest in ground up developments along film row or are you solely focused on renovations?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. CHIP: My passion is restoring historic properties. I could care less about building from the ground up.
MB 11:49 a.m. Would appreciate comments from both of you on the economics of redevelopment. Refurbishing these old buildings must be highly capital-intensive, given the need to bring them up to modern code standards. Do most developers prefer to reap returns on that investment from a quick re-sale at profit, or to extract payback from long term ownership via rents?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:50 a.m. CHIP: it's incredibly capital intensive. The state and federal historic tax credits help drive these redevelopments. Thank goodness I have a day job because I don't have to make my living off the real estate. These jobs wouldn't get done without state and federal historic tax credits as well as the infrustructure supported by tax increment financing.
Bob 11:50 a.m. Chip, I know you don't own the bus station but I think it would make a good place for a Panera with a reading room upstairs for the kids from the school. Can you make that happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. CHIP: I love the bus station. I think it will make a great jazz and blues club.
Mark 11:51 a.m. Chip, I am someone who is seriously interested in getting into historical building renovations in and around the okc core. What are the first steps and things you look at when deciding whether or not to take on a project? How did you first start out? Thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:54 a.m. CHIP: The first think I look for are historically significannt buildings. Those typically built in the 1920s and 1930s qualify. We hire historians to document the history of the buildings to apply for inclusion on the National Register and verify they qualify for tax credits. I would suggest contacting someone like Catherine Montgomery if you are considering a building for tax credits and I would be happy to visit more with you. Catherine was very helpful in what we've done.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:55 a.m. Chip has to run to another appointment now. He gave us an hour, which I really appreciate. Now we'll back track and get to other questions for about another 30 minutes.
Guest 11:56 a.m. Do you know what is going on with the building at 1 East Main? A lot of lumber and steel out front by the buffalo yard. Who owns that building are there any plans for redevelopment there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:56 a.m. Don Karchmer owns the property and he is trying to figure out how to build a parking garage on the site without upsetting plans for future rail connections on the east corner of the property.
Gary T 11:57 a.m. The website says more than 95% of the property for the upper park has been acquired. What in that area has not been acquired and is the city going to use eminent domain to acquire it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. An update will be done soon.
Gary T 11:57 a.m. -I noticed this past weekend that the parking structure for the Aloft hotel was going up. What does that mean in terms of timeline for completion? Spring of 2014?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. That's my bet.
Gary T 11:57 a.m. -Where do we stand on the Western/Classen/Reno/Boulevard intersection decision? What are the chances they just go back to the street grid?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:57 a.m. The last I heard, all of this is still being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration.
Gary T 11:58 a.m. -Related question: why did the city choose to not demo the old on/off ramps to/from the old I-40? Specifically, there are three on the site of the future convention center.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. I don't know.
Gary T 11:58 a.m. -Are you aware of any developers actively trying to buy properties adjacent to the new park for housing/office/other?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:58 a.m. Not yet.
Ronaldo 11:58 a.m. What is all the dirt work going on north of Calvary Baptist church on the SE corner of Walnut and 3rd.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. I believe that is simply a staging site for construction of the Mosaic apartments being built at NE 3 and Oklahoma
Joe 11:59 a.m. I'd like to move downtown, but the rents are too high. What are the most reasonably priced areas?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:59 a.m. I suspect prices will level out as more supply comes on line.
Ronaldo 11:59 a.m. Have you heard any timelines on the GE complex location being announced?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. No
Ronaldo 12:00 p.m. Any news on the mystery towers, or a date on when we will hear more news on the Stage Center Tower.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. This winter.
Terry 12:00 p.m. Hey Steve, What's the chance of additional low water dams and locks continuing further east on the Oklahoma River? I've always thought the NE side of town has the potential to be the prettiest section of OKC with all the trees and rolling terrain. Any new development there could really help it's impression as the poor part of town and bring new hope to the citizens there.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:00 p.m. I've heard discussions from time to time, but nothing serious.
BethanySooner 12:00 p.m. Good morning Steve. Great article regarding developers upping the quality of their projects. Hopefully this will serve as an encouragement to all future development as well as an admonition to those who try to go on the 'cheap' without regard to the bigger picture of improving the quality of life for all of OKC citizens. You can see the progression from the Arts at Legacy Quarter to the Level Urban Apartments to these newest proposals. Thanks for calling the public's attention to the effort that these developers are going to.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Thanks!
Ronaldo 12:01 p.m. If the boulevard is built along the city streets and it is integrated back into the grid.... what will happen to the land that used to be part of the interstate? Will it be auctioned off by the state, fed, or city? Who actually owns that land? This land is prime real estate and could have game changing developments on them.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:01 p.m. Lots of if's in this question that are hard to contemplate at this time.
BethanySooner 12:02 p.m. You mentioned a lot that is being readied to go out for proposals at Lee and Couch. Exactly which corner is this?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. It's across from the Civic Center Music Hall.
Ronaldo 12:02 p.m. If housing were built in Farmer's Market area, would it be between the Farmers Market building and Trosper Park or would it be along Western? This area has a lot going for it in being a potentially trendy area and next to a park with a lot of potential.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:02 p.m. I agree with you
Terry 12:02 p.m. Steve, What plans are proposed for expanded rail service to OKC? So far I've heard Amtrak may expand north into Kansas and that interurban lines may start up to service Edmond, Norman and Midwest City. Any talk of Amtrak expanding east or west? Also would the Santa Fe station be the hub for all this or would they need to have another station?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:03 p.m. There's so much going on.... I'm trying to do a story on all this.
Dan 12:03 p.m. Steve, I know that there were plans for angled parking on Broadway a while back, but I haven't heard of anything moving forward on this. Is the finalization of the streetcar route keeping this from happening?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:03 p.m. I talked to some folks on this ... efforts are ongoing, but it's going very slow.
Dan 12:03 p.m. I read somewhere a while back that an auto shop on NW 10th between Hudson and Harvey was going to be put in imminent domain for development. Do you have details on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:04 p.m. It's a potential target, but no action is being contemplated currently
Ronaldo 12:04 p.m. Are there any new developments south of the Oklahoma river besides the Airpark and Native American Center that are churning? Anything in Stockyards City that could be worth getting excited?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:04 p.m. Not really.
BethanySooner 12:04 p.m. At the Downtown Design Review meeting the architect for Ron Bradshaw's Maywood II Apartments mentioned that a local group was putting in an 8000 square foot restaurant fronting Walnut. What can you tell us about this? Also, do you know why Mr Bradshaw went with a different architect on Maywood II?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:05 p.m. The restaurant deal isn't done yet. As for the architects... well, I'll have to let others speak to that.
Ronaldo 12:05 p.m. Is Sandridge selling any land on Broadway? Rumors of a REPSOL takeover are all over the web....
BethanySooner 12:05 p.m. Is anything being planned to go in south of the proposed Fassler Hall/Dust Bowl building on that vacant lot on 10th street?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. Nothing that has been announced
Terry 12:06 p.m. Steve, Any news from the city as to what they intend to do with the Cox Center? I'd love to see that ugly building torn down so they could extend Robinson back down to the arena at Reno. This would also open up the opportunity to connect the Bricktown canal with the Myriad Gardens lake which both use the same aquifer. Can you imagine with the Myriad Gardens at one end and the Boathouse District/Land Run sculpture at the other end, just how cool would that be?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:06 p.m. No, it's too early.
Terry 12:06 p.m. After reading your article about the Classen-10-Penn area, I drove down 10th Street. Not a bad area, but neither is it a great area, however, there is a lot of potential there being so close to downtown and OCU. One thing stood out. Why is the entire north side of 10th St. vacant except for the VFW Post and the Baptist Church? Were they trying to put in some sort of linear park?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:07 p.m. The city bought all that land to widen NW 10, and cleared a lot of homes in the process. The city has been approached with some pretty cool development proposals, but for whatever reason, they've not been very responsive from what I've been told
OK Joe 12:07 p.m. Morning Steve! Do you know if there is an existing map of the old streetcar/trolly line's that existed pre-WWII? Curious both from a historic perspective and whether that would be anything to consider when building out the new version as those city planners would have naturally (and maybe unintentionally) been more focused on developing a "walkable" city.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:07 p.m. Yes. I'll post it at OKC Central this weekend
Jane 12:08 p.m. Steve, I have on twitter that you really care about public education. What would it take for you to enroll your own children in OKCPS?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:08 p.m. A school board I could trust would be mandatory.
Mark 12:09 p.m. Steve, do you know of anyone interested in the Baraniff office space that is going to be up for lease soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. I suspect it won't be long before that space is filled.
Mark 12:09 p.m. Steve, clearly Aubrey McClendon wasted little time in starting a new business after leaving Chesapeake. Have you heard anything about what Tom Ward is up to these days?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:09 p.m. Ward is following a similar path.
Mark 12:09 p.m. Steve, have you ever been able to interview Mickey Clagg or anyone else from the MidtownR group about what their long term vision for midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:10 p.m. They're not big into doing that kind of thing. But their actions speak very well about their intent.
OK Joe 12:10 p.m. With the looming loss of 500+ high-paying jobs at Chesapeake Energy do you foresee any slow down in private downtown development that is geared towards commercial retail and young professionals? How much of an economic slump could the city take and still see these investments by developers such as yourself?
Steve Lackmeyer 12:10 p.m. Hard to say.
Aaron 12:10 p.m. Steve, any recommendations for lunch on the northeast side of downtown or along 23rd? I'm in the area and will be meeting someone soon. Thanks.
Steve Lackmeyer 12:10 p.m. Backdoor BBQ
Steve Lackmeyer 12:11 p.m. Guys, my battery is about to die. This has been a great chat!
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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