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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central Chat transcript, Nov. 2, 2012

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: November 2, 2012 at 11:36 am •  Published: November 2, 2012

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:26 a.m. Good morning everyone. Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m. to chat. You can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. Good morning everybody! I hope everyone is having a great day.
Dan 10:00 a.m. Steve, when do you estimate work beginning on the Marion?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:00 a.m. 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.
10:00 a.m.
Nick 10:00 a.m. Hi Steve! I'm really enjoying your new book. Job well done, sir!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:01 a.m. Thanks Nick. Jack Money and I really enjoyed working on "Operation Scissortail" - it's really a great sequel to "OKC Second Time Around."
Mike 10:01 a.m. When should the Osler be completed and how will parking for the hotel be accomodated. Parking is REALLY getting to be a problem; very visible since the fence went up for The Edge construction. Will the City/Alliance consider another parking garage in Midtown proper. The other parking garage does not benifit Midtown but Auto Alley.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. 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.
Josh 10:05 a.m. Any word on why Harvey Street Grill is no more?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Josh, I too noticed the Harvey Street Grill has shut down. I used to go there occassionally, but on the last couple visits I saw some tell-tale signs they weren't doing so well. If you visit their page at Urban Spoon, you'll notice their reviews took a nose dive in recent months. The restaurant business is not for the faiint of heart. It's a tough biz.
ABD 10:07 a.m. Hello Steve! So glad to be talking to you! As a resident and renter in midtown I am clamoring to make the next step and buy. All current properties are way too expensive, but I was thrilled the other day when I noticed on Zillow a new condo project at 16 NE 3rd Street. It looks like its just presales only. Any word on if this is for real? Is there hope for any for-sale units under 250K in downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. ABD, I'm fascinated by the listing you spotted on Zillow. This may be some market testing being done by either Ron Bradshaw or Pat Garrett on the remaining undeveloped Maywood Brownstone pads. The development community is very aware of the market demand for housing under $250,000. It's proven to be a tough challenge. The Harvey, which pulled it off, sold out immediately. I'd keep my eye on any openings at the Harvey, and I'd also check out the Classen Glenn condos - an older property that is in need of some love, but is on an up and coming street. I'd also be curious as to what condos at Sycamore Square are going for ...
Coffee Slingers Creamer 10:13 a.m. Any info on why Markie's closed? What's up with the BBQ place going in that spot.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. Yep, Markies, a deli that operated across from the Memorial for more than a dozen years, closed a few months ago. I'd remind everyone - the restaurant business is tough. No offense to the folks who operated Markie's, but it never made a big impression on me. Blu's BBQ opened in place of Markee's, but I've not checked it out yet.
Josh 10:15 a.m. I am sure there is no new info on the Century Center, so I won't ask :)
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. I have little doubt we'll see Century Century renovated and brought back to life.
Nick Roberts 10:15 a.m. Is it in fact true that the second phase of Bradshaw's Maywood Apartments could begin very soon, much sooner than expected?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. He's been working on it ...
Ford Center 10:16 a.m. Are the CHK Arena remodel done? It's kind of trashy you can still see FOR on the top of the building.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. John Rohde has a great update on the arena renovation here:
Nick 10:17 a.m. Do you think we're going to see housing on top of the new Main St. parking garage?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. Yes, I think it's increasingly possible. The Urban Renewal Authority issued a request for proposals and I'm observing some interest with some of our city's leading developers.
Dan 10:18 a.m. Has anything happened with the Preftakes properties downtown? I know the P180 stuff has been killing business in that area, but haven
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Your question cut off Dan, but I think I get the gist of it. I'm constantly puzzled by Nick Preftakes and his direction with these properties. Is he really leasing them and simply not having luck at getting tenants, or is he warehousing the space for future redevelopment related by Devon? I don't think we have an answer to this question. On a related note, Pizza Town at 430 W Main has apparently closed, and neighbors report the building may be the next to be acquired by Preftakes.
Will 10:21 a.m. What's the future on Historic Tax Credits in our area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. Precarious? 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.
Nick 10:24 a.m. I drove by the ballpark and those "shrubs" along Reno are just not cutting it. In all seriousness, who do I need to contact about getting them replaced or organizing something where volunteers can do it?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Contact Councilman Skip Kelly, Mayor Mick Cornett, the Oklahoma City RedHawks and Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.
Josh 10:25 a.m. I seen the concrete barriers that block the two westbound lanes on I-40 being removed this morning. Do you know when all westbound lanes will be open?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. No, but I'll check into it.
Adam 10:25 a.m. Steve, who are some of the civic leaders we should be following closely in terms of downtown development? Any break out leaders you see happening in the next 1-5 years?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. 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.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. On the planning and public financing side, have no doubt, the big player is the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. I also want to be clear: those already in the lead, like Bob Howard's MidTown Renaissance Group, Chip Fudge and Marva Ellard should never be ignored!
Josh 10:32 a.m. I noticed this morning that the concrete barriers are being removed on the westbound lanes of I-40 at the east tie-in. Could all 5 lanes be open soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. Maybe. I'll check into it.
BethanySooner 10:32 a.m. Steve, with Deep Deuce filling up, do you think the demand for housing will migrate south into Bricktown? I know about the Gary Brooks development, but do you see anything beyond that? And if so, will it be renovations of current buildings or new developments?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. I think the upper floors of some Bricktown buildings will be converted to housing, and some efforts are underway but not yet public. I suspect we will likely see most future housing development take place north of Deep Deuce, on empty MidTown lots, and eventually in Core to Shore
Ronnie 10:34 a.m. Good Morning Steve! What is your take on the the 3 renderings released for the park design. What kind of programming would you like to see to help it stand out from the MBG?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. So let's see now... if I understand the plans correctly, they call for a lake or pond, similar in size to that at the Myriad Gardens, a restraurant, and a performance space, right? Hmmmm......
Steve Lackmeyer 10:36 a.m. I'm going to admit now: I've never fully understood the planning and logic with the Core to Shore park. I've not heard yet how it's operation and maintenance will be funded. I never heard a public outcry for this project. So consider me confused.
Brian 10:36 a.m. When will renderings be released for the new Marriott Spring Hill Suites hotel in Deep Deuce?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. The developer indicated he wants to start construction this next year. If so, that would suggest we should see something by summer...
Josh 10:37 a.m. Sorry for the duplicates. Having trouble with my entires.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. It's alright Josh. I try to weed them out.
Brian 10:37 a.m. Do you have a good hunch on where the next downtown parking garage will be? Not talking about the new one on Main St...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. Common sense suggests one will be needed for the new convention center, park and whatever is built on the Stage Center property.
I Heart Parks 10:38 a.m. Do you think our parks dept has capacity to care for the proposed downtown park? I see lots of needed maintenance in our current parks...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. No.
Renee 10:39 a.m. When will the public know the hotel operator for the new convention center hotel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. I don't know Renee. The city has said it must have a convention hotel for a new convention center to be successful. And they've started design work on the convention center...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Can design work truly be completed for a convention center without having some accomodation for the hotel?
JR 10:40 a.m. As a reporter, are you concerned about the lack of transparency behind the Alliance for Economic Development, which is funded by tax dollars?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. When the Alliance was first proposed, I was very vocal in questioning how the group would and would not be subject to the Open Records Act. I still have concerns that the set-up allows for deals to be worked on behind the scenes. But I'll also say that the Alliance has also been very responsive to my questions and has made the Urban Renewal Authority the most transparent it has ever been.
Ronnie 10:42 a.m. Steve, do you think that Lower Bricktown, say 20 years from now, will see any development? As in possibly some form of housing, maybe another parking garage? I just think that all of that surface parking is an eyesore and that the land is much too prime to be wasted like that.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Ronnie, critics of Lower Bricktown say that developer Randy Hogan is simply incapable of assembling such density and that Hogan will need to sell out and allow for new blood to make substantial changes.
Nick 10:43 a.m. Is it likely that Grant Humphreys returns to the Flatiron concept he once had? With growth of Deep Deuce expected to continue north, it seemsl ike that would be a good spot to develop and his idea was a cool one.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. It's possible, but unlikely. Grant Humphreys is staying very busy developing Carlton Landing at Lake Eufaula. I am tracking some other potential development of the site.
Nick 10:44 a.m. When do you think we'll see some renderings for the East Bricktown plans?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. Site clearance should start in the next few months. But this won't be a quick turnaround. It is very complicated. Could we see drawings late next year? Maybe.
Nick 10:48 a.m. Do you know when construction will commence on the 235 exit to 10th St?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. I'll have an update soon.
Jordan 10:49 a.m. What would be good urban anchors for the proposed street car route?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. A Walgreens or CVS?
OklahomaNick 10:49 a.m. When are the changes to the SantaFe parking garage supposed to begin?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Another good question. I'll inquire.
JET 10:49 a.m. Hi Steve,
JET 10:49 a.m. Do you know if a lease has been signed on the Myraid Gardens restaurant?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. Nope. Nothing longterm.
Nick 10:50 a.m. Do you think Hogan ever lets go of Lower Bricktown and lets someone else take a crack at developing what he should have? It's frustrating because his Centennial project was really nice and I thought portended better things, but it didn't and Lower Bricktown continues to disappoint.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:50 a.m. I understand.
Mike 10:50 a.m. Hey Steve, I'm excited about recent business openings along 23rd Street in "Uptown." With so many shops opening so quickly (Pizza 23, Orange Leaf and Grandad's, plus the forthcoming "The Rise"), is there something/someone specific driving growth there? Do you see this kind of pace continuing on 23rd?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I think 23rd is ideally set up for development. It's got great historic neighborhoods, Paseo, on both sides, it is bookended by OCU and the state Capitol, it has great urban fabric and architecture. If only the Tower Theater and adjoining storefronts can get renovated... we'll have a great new corridor.
Nick 10:52 a.m. Any renderings of this new St. Anthony ER pavilion that Upward Neighbors is moving for?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I've not seen it yet.
Nick 10:52 a.m. Pete, of OKCTalk fame, had a post about a local developer being ready to take over First National Center had JUDGE BILL GRAVES ruled to remove it from Yashouafar's control. We didn't get a name of said developer, but do you think they'll get their chance?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. No.
Nick 10:53 a.m. Does the loss of American Fidelity hurt the redevelopment efforts of 23rd St or do you think it's strong enough now to continue rolling?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. No, I don't think so. There are folks behind the scenes who are hoping it might be a good home for the Oklahoma City Public Schools administration. I've heard other ideas as well. I don't think the property will go to waste.
Josh 10:57 a.m. Any word on someone leasing the spot west of Cafe 7 on the northeast corner of Robinson and Park? A restaurant or retail would do very well there.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. I agree!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Wonderful. The que is empty at 11 a.m. - we're actually getting to wrap up on time today! Have a great weekend everyone. Be sure to visit OKC Central to view the calendar of activicites provided to us by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.
Nick 10:59 a.m. How did the evaluation of the Rock Island Plow Building go? Is there reason to have hope!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Verdict is out. But yet, there is reason to hope.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. good bye!
by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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