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.
What will downtown and the surrounding Oklahoma City area be like in three years?
The Bricktown skyline will be dramatically different in three years. A new skyscraper will likely be coming out of the ground. The boathouse district will be a 21st Century Delmar Gardens. Work will be underway on the new boulevard and park. MidTown will be as densely built up as Deep Deuce is now. And Deep Deuce will be fully developed as the first fully mature mixed use downtown neighborhood in the entire state. Yes, I see all this being quite possible in three years. Copy and paste this prediction. I'm sticking with it.
What will happen with the current police station?
The current police headquarters and court will be razed once the new buildings are completed. The big question is what will happen with the original 1937 police headquarters and jail, which has been mothballed for several years. The building was originally slated for demolition back in the late 1990s when the jail was shut down and operations were merged with the county jail. But a funding shortfall put that plan on hold. An internal debate is underway at City Hall. I don't sense the Oklahoma City Police Department is eager to keep the structure standing, and it's my understanding police administration wants to see it come down. It is in pretty bad shape, with fencing surrounding the structure due to falling debris.
But others question how the city can encourage private property owners to save historic buildings if it proceeds with doing so itself (the police building is part of the original WPA Civic Center project). Developer Marva Ellard submitted a proposal to redevelop the property, but it seems to be caught up in the debate and confusion over how to proceed.
As an aside, during a recent online webinar, Planning Director Russell Claus showed how a parking garage on the site, if done in conjunction with the owners of the many surface parking lots in the area, could trigger a huge redevelopment of the entire west fringe of downtown.
Are there plans to put in shopping storefronts in the new development where the Stewart Metal buildings currently are?