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.
Have you heard any rumblings of renovations or new businesses going in between the Metropolitan and AA?
Expect some pretty rapid and impressive development between I-235 and Midtown and along Automobile Alley once the Metropolitan is built and the Central High reopens as the new home of the OCU Law School. What I'm tracking now is mind boggling.
Can you give us some estimated starting and completion dates for the major downtown and surrounding area developments?
Fassler Hall, I think it starts within the next few months, likely to be completed by early 2015. The Metropolitan, starts later this year, completion mid- to late-2015. Phase 2 of the Maywood Apartments, set to start later this year, completion likely mid-2015. The Steel Yard is set to start next spring, completion I suspect would be in late 2015.
What is the next exciting thing happening in OKC that most of us haven't heard yet?
I think the most exciting thing happening is the realization that the decades long scars that divided downtown are disappearing. These aren't just physical scars left by Urban Renewal, but also a fundamental disunity that is finally starting to crumble due to the increased influence of Generation Y, or what some people call the Millennials. They are not waiting to be given permission to take charge of our city's future as was the custom in years past. They are seeking out opportunities to change how our downtown is structured in terms of events, coordination, promotion, infrastructure and planning.
This means that districts that were once pitted against each other are now being pushed into alliances by the young professionals who can make or break them. Instead of seeing monthly festivals as competing draws, the Millennials are setting them up on a rotating basis so one leads to another, and they're now dreaming of how a future streetcar system might even allow for one massive staging of all the different events at once.
The Millennials also are heavy hitters in the better block movement, the effort to redesign the downtown boulevard, and planning for some of the MAPS 3 projects. It's true that they are often aligned and joined by Generation X (my generation), but without the Millennials, a lot of this could not be possible. Quite frankly, too many of my generation left Oklahoma during the oil bust of the late 1980s. So we owe a lot to the Millennials.
What's the latest on the Bricktown parking garage situation?
Don Karchmer is continuing to try to design a garage for Main Street just east of the BNSF railway viaduct that would provide much needed parking for the Central Business District and would include an extension of the Underground pedestrian tunnel under E.K. Gaylord to the garage. I am told the latest effort involves attempting a design that would allow for an easement for a rail spur through the structure if such access is needed at a later time. The project has been complicated by the protests of rail advocates who argued the original garage design would have hurt future passenger rail expansion.
Do you know if anything is going to be built on the SW/C of 10th and Hudson any time soon?
I think we'll get a better understanding of what's set for this property in the next few months.
Any updates on the old downtown library conversion project?
It's well underway, and we can expect completion next year. I hear pre-leasing is set to start soon for the apartments.
Any word from Downtown OKC on the next location and date for expansion of Spokies?
Regatta Park is my guess.