A controversial plan to build exposed surface parking along the Bricktown Canal may not become a reality as developer Chris Johnson is preparing to change designs for property he owns on both sides of the waterway.
Chris Johnson, owner of USA Screen Printing, spent four months in 2011 debating his original plans with the Bricktown Urban Design Committee.
Those plans, which called for creation of parking lots on both sides of the canal just west of Mickey Mantle Drive were only narrowly approved after city attorneys advised the committee that it could not rule against the project over its designated use.
Johnson received a much warmer reception Wednesday as he advised the committee that he was planning to expand a 9,000-square-foot building so that it extended over the parking area along the east side of the waterway.
Johnson advised the remaining parking area will instead be used as a drop-off, with cars to be parked on a remote lot he recently bought along Reno Avenue.
Johnson also reported he had a major development deal fall through for the west side property, but he believes a significant project will still be built on what is considered one of the most valuable undeveloped spots along the canal.
Johnson said he wants to turn the expanded development on the east side of the canal into a family entertainment center similar to Dave & Buster's.
“I feel it's a better project,” Johnson said. “I'm ready to go forward … I've got to go forward.”
Johnson said he has a building permit for his previously approved project, but will be seeking the approval of the Bricktown Urban Design Committee for his amended plans next month.
“I think this is an improvement over what you had before,” Committee Member Tom Wilson said. “The parking is more hidden than it was before. I'm not sure I'm still personally comfortable with land use, but that's not an issue here. Generally speaking, I think you're moving in the right direction.”