The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&As on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Read the complete chat transcript here.
Do you think 2013 Better Block OKC will be the catalyst that finally brings some real life back to the Farmer's Market area?
Yes. If you look at current development trends and the resolution of the boulevard design, it's difficult to see the area not becoming the next vibrant downtown historic district.
Have you heard anything about redevelopment of the Discount Dollar store in the middle of the block next to Urban Wine Works?
The 16th Street Plaza District is going through rapid, dramatic changes these days. Another update in the works.
The Plaza District is no longer struggling with empty storefronts. Instead, the challenge being taken on by the area’s civic leaders and property owners is to find a delicate balance between upgrading the quality of tenants along the block while maintaining the district’s uniquely funky and independent vibe. An example of this effort includes the departure of the mattress store, which was seen as having the same impact on NW 16 that the Hotel/Motel Furniture Liquidators has had on Uptown NW 23.
Will the Discount Dollar Store evolve into another venue someday? It’s quite possible.
When will the next stage of 235/Broadway Ext & I-44 construction start?
I’m still trying to recover from the trauma of the last round of changes. Must we rush it? But to answer your question, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation told Oklahoman reporter Zeke Campfield last summer the next phases of the interchange project are set to begin in 2017, beginning with the southwest quadrant of the intersection. Eastbound motorists on I- 44 looking to turn south onto I-235 will be affected at first, but all of that project's remaining phases should be completed within two years' time. Highway engineers also advised that the schedule could change, with work starting earlier than expected.