The new report also warns that to successfully launch a park in Core to Shore, the city will need “an aggressive strategy for development of the adjacent blocks (that) will require significant participation by both the public and private sector.”
Reprogramming and restoring Union Station, located just north of the new I-40 and immediately west of the SkyDance bridge, could add an attraction on the south portion of the Core to Shore park. The study notes that the former train depot could also provide a place for a destination restaurant, though it doesn't mention the ongoing struggle to find a tenant for a similar restaurant built in the Myriad Gardens.
Stakeholders were again divided about proceeding with construction of the Core to Shore park in an area surrounded by blight. The original Core to Shore study suggested the area would see retail, office and residential development with construction of a boulevard, new convention center and park.
Those conclusions were later rejected by a national panel of experts convened by the Urban Land Institute. City planners, meanwhile, discovered this past year that developers were not ready to pursue housing in Core to Shore even the offer of a $4.5 million federal grant.
“There are some concerns about building a park with nothing around it, that there would be no eyes on the park, resulting in safety concerns,” Mize said. “There was some support for the ‘If you build it, they will come' strategy, with the understanding that parks can be catalysts for private development.”
Another early assumption — that $30 million should be spent from MAPS 3 to acquire and relocate an electric substation that is east of the proposed Core to Shore park — also was rejected by stakeholders interviewed by the new report's
Study isn't final word
Members of the MAPS 3 convention center citizens' oversight committee applauded much of the report. Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy, and former Mayor Kirk Humphreys further questioned planning for a new boulevard.
The report noted Broadway and Robinson both show equal promise as potentially “great streets” or boulevards — a suggestion reiterated by Nichols.
Public Works Director Eric Wenger, meanwhile, assured the committee “everything is on the table,” including planning for the new boulevard. But he added a new boulevard may still be needed with increased closure of Reno Avenue for special events.
Mize said the study will not be the final word on any project.
“This is a guideline of potential issues for architects and engineers to consider as they design these three MAPS projects,” Mize said. “The fact of the matter is it provides a broad based matter that needs to be considered.”
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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.