Consultants overseeing master planning for MAPS 3 have completed a report that calls into question several aspects of the Core to Shore plan, including original assumptions that the area will attract retail and residential development.
Mike Mize, who is leading the Architectural Design Group in creating schedules and scopes for the various projects, delivered a report this week to the MAPS 3 convention center and park citizens' advisory groups that also called into question plans for a boulevard to replace the recently abandoned alignment of Interstate 40 south of downtown.
Mize said the report, co-authored with the original Core to Shore park planning firm Hargreaves and Associates and the urban planning firm Jonathan Rose Companies, was based on interviews with stakeholders in downtown and Core to Shore — an area extending between the old alignment of Interstate 40, the Oklahoma River, Bricktown and Walker Avenue.
“Since the adoption of the Core to Shore plan, several developments have taken place in Oklahoma City that will have a significant impact, including Devon tower, Project 180 — a makeover of downtown streets and parks — and the renovation of the Myriad Gardens, MAPS 3, I-40 relocation, the new boulevard and the SkyDance bridge,” Mize said.
The study, he added, has direct implications on planning for three of the biggest MAPS 3 projects — the convention center, Core to Shore park and a streetcar system.
“Perhaps the most important thing to come out of this is the Core to Shore plan did not look carefully enough at linkages beyond the new boulevard to the city core, Bricktown, the Arts District, MidTown and Automobile Alley,” Mize said.
Stakeholders were divided on ideas about the site south of the Myriad Gardens chosen for the new convention center. The original Core to Shore plan called for the convention center to be located further south: either south of the Chesapeake Energy Arena or south of Lower Bricktown.
“Some expressed concern that the selected site might create a southern boundary for downtown and may preclude the success of the (Core to Shore) park,” Mize said. “Some expressed that rather than hinder development to the south, the convention center might serve to create a more intimate atmosphere for the Myriad Gardens while defining the northern edge of the (Core to Shore) park.”
Mize advised that architects for the convention center should take those comments into consideration, look for opportunities to strengthen pedestrian links, and weigh the feasibility of adding residential and hotel development to the project mix.
Mize said stakeholders were “unified” in wanting the new boulevard designed to support pedestrians and that the width should be limited to four lanes, and not six as originally proposed by state highway engineers during the original Core to Shore study. The new report urges engineers to consider transitioning the boulevard alignment to the street grid at Walker Avenue and merging into Reno Avenue.
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Committee pushes for earlier start
Engineers overseeing planning for a new convention center say they're willing to look at hiring a designer for the project earlier than the current schedule of 2014 after continued criticism of the timeline by Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Carrier, a member of the MAPS 3 convention center citizens' oversight committee, has repeatedly warned city staff that by delaying design they are risking the convention center staying relatively empty when its set to open in 2019.
Carrier said meeting planners schedule convention several years in advance and without even a schematic design in hand, he has nothing to sell or book.
Fellow members of the convention center committee were equally insistent that a designer be hired as soon as possible.
Those requests were echoed Wednesday by members of the MAPS 3 citizens group overseeing design of a Core to Shore park, who noted they cannot recommend programming or a design for the park without knowing the layout and plans for the convention center, which will be built immediately north of the park.