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.
When will work begin on the Marion?
The Marion Hotel is set for renovation as part of a tax increment financing agreement for a garage to be built across the street by the MidTown Renaissance Group. I don’t recall a timeline, but I suspect it will still be some time before we see construction start. The first trip wire on this project will be when the developers submit an application to the Downtown Design Review Committee.
The Marion is one of the oldest surviving structures downtown, dating back to circa 1904. It will also be one of the most challenging to renovate due to the tight footprint, roof damage and compromised structural integrity.
What's the future on Historic Tax Credits in our area?
Oklahoman capitol reporter Michael McNutt had an update on the story this week and it's clear Rep. David Dank is going to attempt another run at eliminating most if not all of the state's tax credits. Defenders of the historic tax credits say this is throwing out the baby with the bath water, that the historic tax credits are proven to benefit revitalization of older communities in cities and small towns alike throughout Oklahoma. Dank represents suburban northwest Oklahoma City.
When should the Osler be completed and how will parking for the hotel be accommodated?
The Osler is scheduled to be completed by late 2013. As for parking, there is a very large lot that is to the northeast of the Osler, east of the 1212 Building, and is open to the public but has not been well used because to date it was so isolated. I suspect that this situation will change with the surrounding buildings being redeveloped ... I am not hearing of any plans for any other garages in MidTown other than the one set to be built at NW 10 and Broadway.
Who are some of the civic leaders we should be following closely in terms of downtown development?
Good question. If I had to compile a list of downtown up and comers, it would include developer Richard McKown and architect Wade Scaramucci. Gary Brooks is almost certainly going to remain involved downtown. Andy Barnett is making quite the name for himself. Alison Bailey is a big player in urban core retail and marketing. Developer Steve Mason is almost too fun to follow! Keith and Heather Paul keep downtown's culinary scene interesting. I'll also add that we should include every major big name player on the Thunder with a big name as folks to keep our eyes on. I am tracking at least two other players contemplating downtown ventures in addition to the restaurant Kevin Durant is opening with the Hal Smith Restaurant Group.