Oklahoma City reporter Steve Lackmeyer answered questions from readers Friday during a chat about downtown developments. Read the entire chat recap here.
We have a couple new high rises expected to be built within the next several years: the convention center hotel and Sandridge's new tower. What are the true chances we add a couple more to that list?
I am sticking with what I wrote in a column earlier this year: we are likely to see an announcement of another office or mixed-use tower downtown sometime this next year or so. I am seeing and hearing too much related to such a development to think otherwise. Add in the already announced intention by Sandridge Energy that it will build an office tower at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr and the city's determination to include a new conference hotel with the convention center and we are likely to see an ongoing transformation of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline.
Some people say the easiest sign of a drop-off in construction is a sky-scraper. Do you see currently less people building or do you see it increasing?
I see downtown construction continuing at a very robust rate for the next few years. Remember, we are about to see work begin on a new downtown elementary, the conversion of the old Central High into the OCU Law School, ongoing housing development in Deep Deuce and MidTown, and of course, the streetcar system, the new convention center and Core to Shore park. Expect more great things to pop up along the Oklahoma River.
Any chance the Humphrey's Flatiron project for Deep Deuce get revived?
A lot of people would love to see the Flatiron at Sixth Street and Harrison developed. That project was literally on the verge of construction starting in 2008 with a building permit taken out, plans submitted, and marketing underway. The project was based on a pretty aggressive pro forma that simply isn't realistic in today's market. Will another developer come in and find a way to help Grant Humphreys recover his costs to date on the project and do something new? Or will the project as designed someday become feasible? The site sure is great - it's prime real estate. There are no clear, easy answers.
Regarding the new apartments just west of Deep Deuce: why did the city not require that the outside be bricked? The white exterior does not fit the area. Related: What will be the exterior of the hotel right across the street?
The white exterior on the new Level went through Urban Design Committee. I think that section of Deep Deuce is taking on a look and vibe of its own. I suggest waiting for the Aloft Hotel to open before judging the area's new look. The Aloft will also be very modern in design, very different from the core of Deep Deuce.
I can't recall if the Aloft has any brick in the facade, but brick isn't the major component in the design if I remember correctly. Keep in mind, there was nothing left standing in Deep Deuce west of Walnut Avenue along NE 2 - it was all surface parking. I suspect some might argue with you that not every new development area in downtown must consist of red brick. I understand though that everyone will have their own preference.
Is there any chance we start to see some housing along Broadway in Automobile Alley? Maybe something like a 6-story apartment building on the NE corner of 5th and Broadway.
The deal approved Tuesday by the city council to do a hybrid TIF financing for a new garage at NW 10 and Broadway brings the Hotel Marion very close to being renovated into apartments. I suspect it may result in some more housing development along Broadway over the next couple years.