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.
Love to see 23rd full of so much life last week during Open Streets. Do you think this will help with the idea to redesign 23rd street to make it more pedestrian and bike friendly?
NW 23 in Uptown was one of the city's earliest streetscape projects, along with Automobile Alley. I think, looking back, that although both projects were well intentioned, they were done in a way that would not take place today. Correcting Automobile Alley's deficiencies is far less complicated - angled parking spaces are being added this weekend.
Fixing NW 23 is more complicated. It had angled parking spaces. They were changed to parallel spaces and a median was added about a dozen years ago. That was, according to many I know, a mistake. The median only encouraged faster traffic. The change in parking reduced spaces. To fix NW 23, the city council, mayor, city manager and city engineers must come to a change in thinking.
For years they've put traffic as their top concern. If the traffic flow was rated at a failing grade, that was the top priority to fix. But a failing grade for pedestrian flow has for years been of little concern. Only when both performances are judged equally will you see, in my opinion, an effective solution to NW 23 that would likely require the removal of the median, the addition of a turn lane, and the removal of an eastbound and a westbound lane so you end up with a three lane street (engineers reading this are horrified at such a suggestion for a major street like this). But it can be done. Through traffic, if frustrated enough by a street like this, will switch to other corridors and disperse more evenly.
What's the latest on the quiet zone downtown?
Planning and engineering is underway.
What do you think the short-term and long-term effects of the Buy For Less investment and the TIF district creation along NE 23rd Street will be?
The northeast community is very loyal to merchants and retailers who do right by their neighborhoods. I think this development, if done right, will be a source of pride for NE 23 and will spark other development in the area with much needed help from tax increment financing and other tools available through City Hall.
Have you seen any firm plans regarding the area around the new 21c Museum Hotel as far as accompanying development?
Developments are in the planning stages. The area is going to take off.
Do you know when OG&E and Rainey will have the latest on their new building/development?
I suspect we'll start hearing new details after the Festival of the Arts.
Any information yet on what they're going to use the former Paseo Underground building as now that they've discovered the nice facade?
Yes! It's going to be home to Pizzeria Gusto. Read my recent story here: http://newsok.com/surprise-facade-surfaces-on-once-doomed-building-at-uptown-shopping-center/article/3947335
Any updates on the progress of the Steelyard apartments?
Work is ongoing. Part of that involves site monitoring, testing. We're likely looking at construction starting late this year.
Have you heard anything on when construction might start on the apartments at 10th and Shartel?
The last I checked, we're looking at later this year.
Any updates on Trader Joes coming to OKC?
I keep hearing they're looking at the Classen Curve area.