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.
What are the projected opening dates for dust bowl and Fassler Hall? Is there anything else new and exciting for midtown soon to be announced?
I believe it is set to open later this year. Expect to hear more housing and retail announced for Midtown.
Have you heard what stores and restaurants will be going in on the ground floor of the Edge?
A pending deal could bring some retail that I suspect will be very popular with Midtown residents.
It looks like the Plaza Discount Store is going to be downsizing and rebranding. What kind of retails establishments would you like to see in the remaining spaces?
I visited with Steve Mason on Wednesday. The store is going to reopen with a new name, new operator, and overall, a far better product mix and presentation. And yes, the bars will be coming off the windows. I visited with Steve about this property several weeks ago soon after the sale was closed. At that time the question was, what would be the best fit for the Plaza District? What is needed by the surrounding neighborhoods?
I apparently was one of a handful of people who suggested Steve drive around suburban neighborhoods to see what retailers they have nearby. One realization that came out of this was that Steve saw Westlake Hardware stores, Lowes, Home Depots, and various other retailers with items that are needed on a regular basis. Without such big box retailers showing an interest in the urban core, and the fact such chains are not expanding much these days, neighborhoods like the Plaza District seem like ideal locations to revive the old fashioned variety store concept.
When I was growing up, you could go to a TG&Y, get some basic grocery items, toys, hardware, cleaning supplies, school supplies, kitchen items and more. The Plaza Discount Store, on one hand, provided this service the surrounding neighborhoods. But it had a very poor presentation (women's bras next to kitchen staples) and was cluttered with junk that was not selling and just took up space. It also had an entire row of shelving dedicated to paper plates instead of storing excess supply in the back room. I think the new store will be a great addition to the Plaza District, Gatewood and Classen-10-Penn.
How long until we receive an update on the Wheeler District plan?
Blair Humphreys is in discussions with potential developers and plenty of work is going on behind the scenes. I suspect we will hear more later this year.
With the redevelopment of the DT Airpark eminent, do the concert promoters have any interest in establishing another outdoor venue elsewhere in the future?
Howard Pollack is a veteran concert promoter and he is determined to maintain an outdoor venue in Oklahoma City. I am not sure amphitheater is facing immediate displacement from the airpark. But I do suspect the venue will need to move within the next couple of years. As an aside, is it just me or does it seem as if buzz for the Zoo Amphitheater has died since the Zoo Trust terminated its operation agreement with Pollock while a lot of acts, a lot of activity has taken place at Pollack's new venue at the Downtown Airpark?
When do you think Dowell will have an announcement on his residential Tower? And what is he doing with the Dowell Tower?
One caveat: when Dowell first started talking about this project, he was looking at a 10- to 15-story tower. When I checked with him a few weeks ago, I didn't ask if the height had changed. I'm hearing it will now be only a few stories high. As for Dowell Center, he is awaiting completion of the Parkside building and Kerr Park by SandRidge Energy before finishing the building.
What does the Arts Council plan on doing with their land?
The property does not belong to the Arts Council of Oklahoma City - it belongs to the city. And it is being offered for redevelopment by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority.
If we can't even figure out whose responsibility it is to maintain the tunnels, what are the chances that we'll ever be able to extend and improve them?
They were improved by the business improvement district. I don't see a scenario in which they ever get extended.
What is next for the plaza district? Where does it expand to?
Classen-10-Penn is a distressed neighborhood with a lot of great old homes. Younger people are buying into the area, homes are getting renovated and repaired. So it's possible we may see a great connection between the two.
What would you most like to see added to Bricktown?
A visitor/history center on the barren plaza of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark could do wonders for the city and its tourism market.
Which tower prospect has you the most excited?
The one at Main and Hudson.