Q: What, in your observation, is the biggest impediment to walkability yet to be addressed in downtown Oklahoma City?
A: If Project 180 and the boulevard are both well-executed, it will then be a question of how quickly developers can build attainable market-rate housing downtown to meet the demand that we know exists. Building downtown is more expensive than building on a greenfield out in the sprawl, and I'm hoping that the city will circle the wagons around making it reasonable profitable for more developers to get involved. I would also add that the Riverwalk is on the cusp of being a truly great place, but it would appear that some landowners are wrecking the game for everyone by not moving forward with development on their unsightly parking lots. Here comes the part where I cough into my hand and it sounds a lot like “Eminent Domain!”
Q: What shift, if any, have you noticed in discussion and prioritization of walkability since you first visited Oklahoma City in 2007?
A: Not to soft pedal it, but I have to say that OKCers seemed to be shockingly pro-walkability, even back then. Being named the “least walkable city in America” by Prevention Magazine seems to have done its job. The proof of the pudding for me was the Engineering Department's acceptance of the lane reductions we proposed for Project 180, and the one-way to two-way conversions. Their old-school transportation consultants said it would cause gridlock, and our progressive ones said it wouldn't, and they trusted us. In a city where the car has been king for so many years, that takes courage.