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.
What are the plans for the old store front just North on Walker & 24th?
I believe you are talking about the old Overhead Garage Door place. It is being renovated into the base of operations for the Good Egg Dining Group, which owns Tuckers, Cheevers, Iron Star BBQ, Kitchen No. 324 and operates Republic.
Several years ago there was a great plan to build a 4-5 story retail/office/condo area on the lot south of the Coca-Cola BT events center. Do you see anything starting anytime some on that spot?
No. That proposal was pitched by Bob Funk when he still owned the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
How is the construction of the canal/river connection coming along?
I went by Regatta Park last week and crews were well along in pouring the cement/concrete (not sure which material) lining to the canal extension under the I-40 bridge.
I suspect it won't be much longer before the canal extension is completed; the river needs to be refilled with water for regatta season.
Is the downtown Panera dead or are they looking for another site?
From what I'm hearing, it's still in the mix, but maybe not where they first targeted.
Is the city council doing anything at all to enhance more green living here?
They're building green buildings like the new Bricktown fire station, they've added electric charging vehicle stations downtown, they're adding bike lanes, sidewalks and trails. They're doing recycling.