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 10:30 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Read the complete chat transcript here.
Any developments in the works for Film Row?
Yes. Big developments are being looked at for Film Row. Stay tuned.
Good morning Steve and happy Friday to you! Do you think the influx of housing near the Civic Center will hinder or help development in other parts of DT/BT/DD?
I think the influx of housing around the Civic Center will only help development of downtown - especially when it comes to the lack of restaurants in the area. When Tratoria Il Centro closed, it left a big hole in the area. Civic Center patrons basically were limited to the Art Museum Cafe as the only restaurant within reasonable walking distance from the ballet, philharmonic and plays at the music hall. The influx of housing should help support the opening of more restaurants in the area. And this in turn will just generate more activity throughout downtown.
What is the projected finishing date for all of Project 180?
I think we're still looking at it being another couple of years. A lot of work remains to be done - Park Avenue, E.K. Gaylord, Main Street will take time.
It looks like the new Salvation Army on 10th and May is pretty close to completion. When can we start to see Central Park construction? Are there any more holdups?
The last timetable I saw was for work to begin later this year.
Any information on hotels not yet announced for Bricktown? Are we nearing a saturation point in the district?
We will see at least two more hotel deals announced soon. I'm not sure it's a question of whether Bricktown will be saturated with hotels as much as it's a question of what happens if Bricktown overtakes I-40/Meridian as the city's primary hotel corridor.
Has momentum in Sosa slowed to your knowledge?
No, not at all. There are at least a half dozen new homes being built in the SoSA or Cottage district of Midtown.
Are there any developments in the works that you are excited about that will surprise us?
Yes. Bricktown, Central Business District, Automobile Alley and Midtown.
Anything exciting happening in Capitol Hill? Do you think that area is going to hit the radar soon or is it 5-10 years or 15 years away?
I've said this before - Capitol Hill has incredible potential. A strong effort is underway behind the scenes to find a way to extend the streetcar system into Capitol Hill. Once that happens, I expect it to really take off.
Any updates on the new Wheeler District proposals? Any idea on how soon construction can begin on the first stage of housing?
Blair Humphreys has previously indicated some early, quick start development involving existing structures will take place this next year or so.
Are there any out of state developers looking at developing in Midtown?
Oh yeah. The out-of-state folks' biggest frustration is that they fear they've entered the game too late. But they haven't. They just need to do some extra homework and realize that downtown is transitioning from one phase to another.
Anything exciting in the works for the Plaza district that we haven't heard yet?
Keep your eye on the Plaza Shopping Center recently purchased by Steve Mason.
What do you think OKC could do to make itself more marketable to national retailers?
Oklahoma City's "weakness" in this area is actually its overall strength - our city is more diverse, with upper middle class and wealthy neighborhoods spread out throughout the metro instead of just a few concentrated areas. And Tulsa's "strength" in this area may be its weakness - I wonder if the way it has its wealthy residents all in concentrated pockets prevents it from moving forward as a community the way that Oklahoma City is moving forward. When locals show Oklahoma City is a better market than Tulsa, the nationals will follow. And that is happening.