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OKC Central with Steve Lackmeyer: Aug. 29 chat recap

Here's the recap of the Aug. 29 OKC Central Chat with Steve Lackmeyer

Oklahoman Modified: August 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm •  Published: August 29, 2014
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. Good morning everybody! We have little over an hour for this morning's chat, so let's get to it!
Nick 10:27 a.m. Hey Steve, I saw your teaser on Twitter yesterday. Do any of the questions you're going to answer at ConfluenceCon deal with the addition of new towers to our skyline?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Yes. I'll even show a graphic that I think suggests the potential lay-out of the Stage Center site.
david ball 10:29 a.m. how can the streetcar actually help alleviate congestion? will it have more than one car, or the ability to do so in the future?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. The city this week began the process of hiring a vendor to supply at least five streetcars for the start of the $130 million system. Bids will be due Nov. 13. This is a very significant step forward - really, the moment of realizing, "Yes, Oklahoma City is really getting a streetcar system." Meanwhile, behind the scenes, significant efforts are underway to get an expansion of the system into Capitol Hill. If this effort is successful, it could be a game changer for Capitol Hill, which I see as potentially becoming one of the city's best urban districts in the future. Will the streetcar alleviate congestion? To some extent, yes. But that's not the real objective here. If we are designing a city for future generations, then we must accept that statistics and studies are showing that Millennials are no longer wanting to own and drive cars. They want to live in the urban core with public transportation. This of course is not meant to be a broad brush assumption - obviously this does not mean every young professional has written off living in suburbia. But the trends are clear, especially among the highly sought after innovators, entrepreneurs and the creative class. And traditional fossil fuels are not getting any cheaper. Oklahoma City is seen as having a terrible public transit system. This streetcar system is being designed as the core of a much bigger rail system that Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City and Norman have been looking at creating for the past couple of years. And if this whole vision is realized, yes, it really could be a significant improvement to traffic congestion.
david ball 10:39 a.m. will the city ever have a serious bus system?
david ball 10:39 a.m. i am not hostile to the streetcar, i just wonder how many people it can move, what distance, and time used. light rail seems to make more sense.
Gary T 10:39 a.m. Good morning Steve! With the news of the $6.9 million loan for the 21c Museum Hotel development, when can we expect it to start construction?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Oops. Posted too many questions at once. David, I see the city taking a serious look at improving the city's bus system. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a MAPS 4 that focuses on public transit. As for the rest of your question, those are all good questions. I think we really don't know the answer yet.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. Gary, I've been told by the 21C Museum Hotel folks construction should be starting within the next few months.
Gary T 10:41 a.m. What do you think of the possibility of extending Classen Drive SE to 9th Street?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. That extension was funded through a prior bond issue, but it's my understanding the extension is no longer desired by Midtown interests or the city. I think it's dead.
Gary T 10:42 a.m. It seems like the Salvation Army building on 10th and Penn is getting closer to opening. Does that mean groundbreaking for the new Central Park could be closer? Also, is there any chance for a redesign to include the Film Exchange building?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. The Salvation has started its move. The city is eager to get started on the park. The Film Exchange building is almost certain to be torn down, though I must wonder if the city will regret this - it could be a great home to the arts agencies that will be displaced by development of the Stage Center block. The park designers, who are not from Oklahoma City, clearly want a clear canvass for their project and I've not seen any evidence they sincerely are willing to consider incorporating the Film Exchange building into the park. And I've not seen any real effort by the city to challenge the designers on this matter. So consider the Film Exchange building to be doomed.
Kim 10:46 a.m. Good Morning Steve, I asked a question last week regarding The Rise and I'm not sure if you received it. My question was, at which point do we stop blaming delays on a property being old or difficult to work with and start looking at the inexperience of a developer?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. I guess anyone is free to place blame where they see fit. The Sieber Hotel Apartments developed by Marva Ellard went through years of delays. But no one remembers that now - they just see how great the building is and what an asset it is to Midtown. It's odd to me that there are those who want to turn Jonathan Russell, the developer of The Rise, into a bad guy, when he's clearly still getting the job done (albeit slower than initially hoped) while people have come to accept owners of great old properties like the Sunshine Laundry, the Walcourt apartments just sitting empty and boarded up. If the idea of blame is to equal public shaming... well, I'll let you decide how you end up making such judgments.
Gary T 10:51 a.m. What vacant areas in Midtown should we be keeping our eyes on?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. The staging area at NW 10 and Hudson now being used as a construction staging area by St. Anthony Hospital is likely to end up being something pretty special.
Gary T 10:52 a.m. KC/Dallas jealousy development update? Worried/Not worried?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Not worried. Not yet.
Gary T 10:53 a.m. How long until a price of the Convention Center site is decided?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. We will likely hear an appraisal by the court appointed eminent domain commissioners within the next few weeks.
Kim 10:53 a.m. Are you aware of who the new tenants that replaced the retropub and cigar lounge are?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. It's my understanding there may be one new tenant but most of the space is being reconfigured to provide additional space for the remaining tenants.
CeCe 10:54 a.m. I was walking in Lower Bricktown this past weekend and noticed how bottlenecked certain portions of that area become especially near Harkins and Fuzzy's Tacos. Is there any new development coming or even announced for Lower Bricktown that may add more destinations for visitors?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Yes.
Hurley 10:54 a.m. who owns the large parking lot on the southwest corner of reno and oklahoma ave? Is it something we could see developed in the next 5 years and if so what kind of potential does it have?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Randy Hogan. Yes. A lot. Sorry, that's all I can say right now.
Dan 10:55 a.m. Hi Steve! What ever happened with the auto shop that's south of where the Blu Garten food truck court is going to be (NW 10th & Harvey)? I seem to remember talk that the city was going to crack down on all the cars they had around the shop and across the street, and I think there was talk about imminent domain to develop that area...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Film Row developer Chip Fudge was incredibly close to buying the property late last year. But while the outside lot was finally cleared of the junked cars, the inside of the building was still a mess. And the environmental surveyors were not able to get inside the property to determine the level of contamination on the site. But fumes coming from the ground outside proved to be enough of a concern to scuttle the deal. It's unfortunate. I can't imagine this property selling in a private transaction. Eminent domain, I suspect, may be the only answer.
Hurley 10:57 a.m. How long before downtown see some significant underground parking lots being developed or even thought about? I envision the area around the new city park being developed with underground lots instead of large above ground ones, is that realistic?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. It's expensive. We're seeing some examples of underground parking with residential properties. But beyond that.... I just don't see it.
CeCe 10:59 a.m. If you could build three things in the City Core what would they be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. A 24/7 old fashioned diner like the ones that do quite well in Dallas, Kansas City and all over the east coast; an Alamo Draft House cinema; and an Uptown Market with a pharmacy.
Forrest 11:03 a.m. What's the deal with the three story building at NW 4th and Dewey? Northwest corner. I don't know that you've ever spoken about it before but I drive by it all the time. With new development relatively close to the area, it's a prime spot.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. I think I know the one you are talking about - it's just north of the Civic Center park. It's a law firm with a generous supply of surface parking. I agree - this property has a lot of wasted potential.
Veronica 11:04 a.m. Do you think we will hear anything new in Bricktown this year?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. Yes.
David 11:04 a.m. When will this graphic on the Stage Center site be up on your blog?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. I will be sharing it at the Confluence conference on Sept. 6 at the Plaza Theater in the Plaza District.
David 11:06 a.m. Steve, Do you have any information about the restaurant that will open in the Parkside Building (assuming it is ever completed) - ownership group, concept, theme, price point?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. I don't think there is a restaurant tied to the property at this time.
KZ 11:06 a.m. Do you have any details about the construction at 122nd and I235?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. I've not seen the site lately, but I suspect you're talking about the new Baker Hughes complex.
Kim 11:07 a.m. Steve, has anyone in the City ever discussed rebuilding the bridges that cross the Oklahoma River closer to downtown and making them more aesthetically pleasing? You look are places like Pittsburg and Chicago that have these beautiful bridges crossing waterways and it just gives the city a different feel. Thoughts?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. I agree. Oklahoma City Public Works has historically seemed to be dedicated to boring infrastructure - at least in the post City Beautiful era (after the 1940s). And no, I'm not aware of any such thinking at City Hall.
CeCe 11:08 a.m. What are the plans for the cleared up lots immediately south of the Chesapeake Arena? Right now it looks as if it's a forgotten dig site.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. I agree. I think the city is waiting for work to begin on the boulevard before moving forward with what's next.
Veronica 11:08 a.m. What is with the empty Mexican restaurant on 16th and N Classen? Do you know anything about this place? It is in a prime location thta could help tie Classen to Plaza District.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. That building was previously home to Triples, and historically was the home to Herman's Seafood. I've encountered several people who have tried to buy the property. This is another case of a property owner doing nothing, nobody really saying anything about it, while criticizing someone who is trying to do something constructive with a another historic property. Folks, you're free to say what you want, criticize whoever you want - but don't count on always saying "Yep, he's a bad guy, blame away ...."
Terry 11:12 a.m. Has there been any news regarding the design for the new boulevard? ODOT better be taking a serious look at how this design could make or break current and future development. We don't need a super-wide super-fast boulevard to shuttle auto traffic in and out of downtown. What most of us want to see is an at-grade boulevard that provides a beautiful new vista to downtown while still providing for the continuous and uninterrupted flow of traffic (including pedestrian) with the existing street grid.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. And what is it in the history of work done by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that leads you to believe they will build the sort of road you are envisioning?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:13 a.m. (Must break for two minutes)
Terry 11:16 a.m. I'm excited to see the 21C Museum hotel planning going forward. This will really spur development on Classen Boulevard which I've always felt was underutilized and should be turned into OKC's grand north-south boulevard. Does the City have any plans to beautify Classen with landscaping, sidewalks, etc?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:18 a.m. Developers are beginning to concentrate on Classen - and yes, you are right, this is partially in response to the 21C Museum Hotel. No firms plans exist at this time for improving Classen Boulevard. But the discussion is starting behind the scenes. I suspect we will see an effort to include Classen Boulevard in the expected 2017 bond issue to be submitted to voters.
Kim 11:18 a.m. How many of the MAPS3 projects are completely paid for at this point?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. If I recall correctly, the city cannot bid out a project unless the money is in hand. The city is starting construction on the White Water venue on the river and preparing to bid out the first phase of the streetcar system and the first senior wellness center. So if my logic is correct, these are the three projects that are "paid for" at this time.
Terry 11:20 a.m. You've mentioned in previous chats that the lease on the EMSA facility in Midtown is about to expire. Do you think the property owner would entertain redeveloping that property similar to the Plaza Court building across the street on Classen Drive. I believe such a development would really add to the vitality of the roundabout at Classen/ Walker and 10th St. as the hub of Midtown.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. I really, sincerely believe the EMSA property may be the next hot property in play in Midtown after we find out who gets to buy the Villa Theresa school property.
Kim 11:21 a.m. I believe you mentioned that MAPS3 funding was currently ahead of the projected pace, if so what is the new projected total that the campaign will bring in and what happens with the extra funds?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. I don't have that figure, but I'll check with City Hall reporter William Crum for the answer.
Terry 11:21 a.m. I don't hear much mention of a rail connection from the future downtown transit hub to the airport. The existing rail line is there and it seems it would be a natural fit to want such a connection, especially now that Bricktown/ downtown may soon replace the Meridian corridor as the main hotel district. Is such a rail connection being contemplated?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Not currently.
Nick 11:22 a.m. Will you answer anything about Midtown R's next adventures?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Is there a question?
Terry 11:22 a.m. Did any elements of Stage Center get salvaged for reuse somewhere else?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:22 a.m. Not the architectural remnants.
Downtown Dweller 11:22 a.m. Seriously, what's up with the bean smell downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. That smell is from the Southwestern Producers Cotton Coop in Lower Bricktown.
Aaron 11:23 a.m. Steve, have any good recommendations for lunch within about 5-10 min of the capitol complex. Thanks.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:24 a.m. Kamps 1910 at NW 10 and Broadway and the Deep Deuce Grill are the ones that immediately come to mind if you're talking about walking to lunch.
David 11:25 a.m. Any updates on First National Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. Not at this time.
Daniel DeMoss 11:25 a.m. As a young professional who love in the urban core, I see the streetcar as a way to alleviate parking issues, more than traffic issues. I would take the streetcar places INSTEAD of driving my car, thereby saving a parking place for the suburbanites visiting the urban core.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. When The Oklahoman moves downtown, I fully expect to park my car in the morning and use the streetcar or walk to most of my destinations.
Daniel DeMoss 11:26 a.m. Any news on what the Plaza Discount Store will become?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. The space is being divided into three storefronts.. A variety store will be one of the shops, far better than the old discount store, and will sell the sort of staples one used to find at a TG&Y. I think the neighborhood will like what they see if it is set up as I expect.
Daniel DeMoss 11:28 a.m. What is the "Park Plaza District" that I'm seeing signs for along 6th, near downtown? Is this new? It seems like it would could be easily confused with the Plaza District by visitors.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Yeah. This was done by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. at the insistence of Rick Dowell, the major property owner in the area.
david ball 11:29 a.m. you might not be able to name it after anyone, but solving the city's education issues or transportation issues would be a much greater legacy than a huge park that displaces the best available area for future core city residents. sorry for the soapbox.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Don't apologize.
David 11:29 a.m. Steve, Any update on the project that could make Dallas or K.C. jealous? Is it still alive?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Yes.
David 11:29 a.m. Is the Century Center fully leased?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. Not yet. But close.
David 11:30 a.m. How long before we see a Great Wolf Lodge or equivalent in the River District?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. I suspect we'll see something develop within a few years.
Randy 11:30 a.m. Any news about potential development of cotton oil mill?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. As long as the owners insist on selling the property for $121 million, I don't see any prospect for development anytime soon. Should that change...
david ball 11:31 a.m. i think we should have a streetcar down 23rd street from MLK to May ave. and one on s. 29th through capitol hill. then run one from moore down shields all the way to n. 23rd. those people would actually use it. this ia a suggestion, not a criticism.
Guest 11:31 a.m. Regarding the three things you listed that you would like to see downtown i.e. the 24-hour diner, Alamo Draft House, and Uptown Grocery, do they have a chance of happening or are they pie in the sky wishes at this point?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. At least one of the three are possible within the next five years.
amaury 11:32 a.m. You talked, few months ago, about a law firm moving to SW 15th and Walker, by the river and little flower church to be by the future park. Any idea when the construction will start ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. No, I'll check with the law firm and get an update.
gorak 11:34 a.m. May have submitted my question too late again today, but would the project that might make Dallas and KC jealous make Louisville and Baltimore jealous as well? just curious
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Louisville, yes. Baltimore, I just don't know.
Nick 11:34 a.m. Did Baker Hughes relocate their research operation? Last week you said you needed to do an update. Are they still proceeding with their plans for a R&D center here?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Yes, they will be building their new operation at the Kilpatrick Turnpike, NW 122 and Broadway Extension.
Nick 11:35 a.m. What's the latest on a streetscape plan for Bricktown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. The city is working on plans now.
David 11:35 a.m. Do you have any information about what will be going into the Milk Bottle building?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. Something cool.
Veronica 11:35 a.m. Do you see Classen being a future route for the streetcar?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:35 a.m. Potentially.
Veronica 11:35 a.m. Which district do you think will have the most exciting news later in 2014? CBD, Bricktown, Plaza, Uptown, Capitol Hill, Midtown, Film Row, or Deep Deuce? Or are you excited about more than one.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. Bricktown - but maybe not until early 2015.
David 11:36 a.m. I'm very disappointed to read that there will no longer be restaurant in the Parkside building. The original plan included a restaurant with a patio and terrace jutting into the park and I heard that at one point Good egg would operate. I know things changed at Sandridge, but the building design still seems to provide for the patio and terrace. What will go in that spot if not a restaurant?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:37 a.m. There may still be a restaurant - but that whole project is really off of its original schedule. I'll do an update soon.
Nick 11:37 a.m. Let me clarify, what do you think MidtownR's next big project will be after the ones we currently know about? Where will their next project happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. I suspect Midtown Renaissance is in the hunt to acquire Villa Theresa at this time.
Guest 11:39 a.m. Have you heard anymore about Homeland remodeling the 18th street location?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. Nope. The Homeland CEO posted a message on a neighborhood forum indicating he was going to seek city incentives to renovate the store. I placed numerous calls to Homeland and never got any response. The folks at City Hall reported to me they had no such communication with Homeland.
Nick 11:40 a.m. Steve, will this afternoon's special chat include a format like this if we can't make it to Elemental?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. I'm glad you bring that up. An emergency popped up during this chat and Kelly Fry won't be able to make the chat. But digital managing editor Alan Herzberger will be taking Kelly's place. Alan is a whiz at all things digital. If there is interest, we'll see what we can do.
Ben 11:41 a.m. Not a downtown question, but are your worried about the safety of the Hefner goats/dog?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. The dog and goats are clearly popular, and someone (not City Hall) has created Twitter accounts for both Otto the dog and the goats. I can't imagine the city embarked on this experiment without taking precautions to ensure no harm will come to these animals. But yeah, sadly we all know this world is filled with pretty vicious folks as evidenced by the murder of a police dog this past week.
Guest 11:43 a.m. Have you heard if Saturn Grill is re-opening in Midtown, or if a different restaurant is opening in that spot?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. I've heard a different restaurant will be opening in that spot, though I doubt it will happen until the current St. Anthony Hospital construction is completed.
D from OKC 11:44 a.m. Do you know if the new blvd will travel over or under the elevated railway in bricktown.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. Under.
David 11:44 a.m. When will the work of the Journal Record Building begin? Is it still moving forward?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. The project is still on track.
D from OKC 11:44 a.m. I am still searching for a rendering of the new S. Bound I235 exit to the westbound blvd. Is one available for public viewing.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. This is on my to-do list.
Nick 11:44 a.m. Are we nearing an answer on who's buying Villa Theresa?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. I don't know yet.
David 11:45 a.m. Is Devon going to build and/or occupy the new tower on the Preftakes block? If not Devon, is it BOK? Both are rumored
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. Devon has stated they will not be building a new tower.
Gary T 11:46 a.m. When can we expect to hear something on Trader Joe's in NHP/CC area?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. I'm surprised we haven't seen an announcement already.
CeCe 11:47 a.m. I heard rumblings of someone purchasing the old Coach restaurant next to the ballpark and opening up a new restaurant. Have you heard anything about this? If so, any idea what type of restaurant it is going to be (i.e. upscale, pub, casual, etc.)?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. I've not heard that, but it would surprise me considering the team itself is being sold to a group affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hopefully a new restaurant will open at the ballpark - it's really a shame it has stayed empty for the past two years.
Gary T 11:48 a.m. Are there any more holdouts in the direct path of the park?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. I'm pretty sure most of the property has been acquired by the city.
guest 11:48 a.m. persistence pays off. Anything on the Baker-Hughes project--Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:48 a.m. As I understand it, it's still on track.
David 11:48 a.m. Your answer to my new tower question was very clever.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:49 a.m. It was meant to be.
Nick 11:49 a.m. Are you worried about the Journal Record project? Or it is just the usual delays?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:51 a.m. No, I'm not worried. I know a lot of you don't like hearing me say this, but I'll repeat myself - these deals are very, very complicated. They involve a lot of moving pieces and can involve dozens of parties that can create unexpected additional tasks and challenges to getting the deal done. When the project involves an old property, public assistance and tax credits, it's almost a miracle that these deals get done.
CeCe 11:51 a.m. Maybe I'm reading too much into that comment, but does that mean the Redhawks may be relocated? If so, is there any alternate use of the stadium?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:52 a.m. I don't think so. But I'm only privy at this time to what's been reported by our sports guys. Their reports suggest this acquisition was to create a better training environment, weather wise, for players coming up to the majors.
Damon 11:53 a.m.

Here's the recap of the Aug. 29 OKC Central Chat with Steve Lackmeyer

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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