The citizens committee tasked with guiding development of a new convention center is sticking with a site chosen south of the Myriad Gardens after hearing a proposal that the location be reconsidered.
The pitch by former Mayor Kirk Humphreys to reopen the discussion arose as the MAPS 3 Convention Center Citizens Subcommittee was being asked to approve a contract with firms Populous and GSB to design the $250 million project.
Humphreys cautioned that he was informed by the consultants that costs for the site, including previously proposed underground construction of exhibit halls, would likely run higher than anticipated.
“It's been some time since we made this selection, and there is a question in my mind as to whether we will have the money we need to have the square footage we want and put it underground,” Humphreys said. “What I really don't want to end up with is a lot less square feet than we need or another big box ‘Cox Center 2' next to the Myriad Gardens.”
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President Roy Williams, who participated in interviews of qualified firms for the design contract, responded that Populous and other firms applying for the job indicated the site will still work.
“Most of them felt we can get what we wanted,” Williams said. “Some say we will have to make some trade-offs. By and large, they felt we could build what we want.”
Another member of the committee, Devon Energy Executive Chairman Larry Nichols, responded he also felt as if the previous site selection was sufficient.
“We went through a laborious, lengthy and thorough process,” Nichols said. “To go with a process to look for a second site to build this is not very inspiring. It's wrong to start second-guessing the site right now. We've picked the best site.”
The committee and city staffers did agree, however, to add into the Populous contract that the firm assess costs and feasibility with the dealership site as one of their first tasks.
Populous is the third major MAPS 3 contract in which a firm hired for early analysis was later hired for overall project design, with Hargreaves Associates hired for both phases of work on the MAPS 3 park and Jacobs Engineering hired for both phases of design for the MAPS 3 streetcar system.
The overall project budget for the convention center is $250 million, including costs for design and site acquisition. The city council reallocated $30 million of the original $280 million budget to infrastructure costs, including possible relocation of an electric substation south of the Chesapeake Energy Arena.