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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central Chat transcript, Nov. 9, 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 9, 2012 at 11:07 am •  Published: November 9, 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 9:31 a.m. Good morning everyone! Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:00 a.m. So .... what's on your mind today?
Guest 10:00 a.m. Do you know much about the restaurant going into the Packard building in Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:01 a.m. I've not had a chance to do a story on this one yet. But it's my understanding the restaurant is being launched by the owner of still missed Interurban Restaurant that was forced out of City Place Tower last year to make way for a Coolgreens. It looks like it will be a nice addition to MidTown.
Bob 10:01 a.m. Did the East facade of the Braniff building have to go before a review before they started putting it up? It does not seem appropriate fit for the rest of the building.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. I can see how people might disagree on the Braniff Building renovation. The renovation plans were submitted to the Downtown Design Review Committee, there was some debate (which I reported), and the plans did pass. The argument for the modern glass addition was that the previous facade was an alley facade that bore no resemblance to the rest of the building. Purists argue that even if it consisted of bricks, no windows and a rough finish, that it's still to be preserved. Others would argue that the building's legendary architect, the late Solomon Andrew Layton, likely did not intend to have that alley facade be a prominent representation of his work - that it was designed to be hidden away from public view.
10:06 a.m.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. The east side of the Braniff Building is seen in this photo taken last week.
Guest 10:07 a.m. When will the demolition and construction begin in Uptown on 23rd? (The Hotel/Motel Liquidation space.) How should residents of that area expect to be impacted?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. The property sale closed a week or so ago. The project still needs to go through design review, so we're probably looking at sometime this winter. I think the main impact will be the likely closure of a lane of NW 23 from time to time as the building is renovated, though even that's not a certainty. Otherwise... it sure seems as if it will be a nice change for that block and the overall neighborhood.
Brent 10:09 a.m. Is there a deadline date we can look forward to for a decision to be made on how the Stage Center site will proceed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. In the past I've been told it would be this autumn. I thought a decision would have been made by now. But these complicated deals have a timeline of their own. Be assured, things are going on behind the scenes.
Brent 10:10 a.m. In the past you have given hints about possible news worthy events not yet officially announced (skyscraper, corp. HQs, etc.), but have not seen fit to release the information you know or suspect. Generally, what is your criteria for sharing this information? In the past, you have not always waited for an official announcement.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. First, and foremost, I must feel absolutely certain that the information I'm reporting is on solid ground. It's easy to throw out speculation and rumor, and then claim you got a "scoop" when you luck out and such conjecture is proven to be correct. But there's a high rate of failure with that approach, and I feel like I owe it to readers that what I deliver can be trusted. So when I report to you, with no official announcement made, that planning is underway for a new tower downtown, please understand I don't do such reporting lightly. Multiple corporations are looking at possible headquarters projects downtown. Some appear to be in competition for premium sites, and it's not at all clear that the losers in these competitions will choose to build elsewhere, though it's also not clear that they won't. Hopefully this makes sense to you as to why I'm loathe to name names as I did a few years ago when I broke the news about Devon Energy and SandRidge Energy.
Dan 10:16 a.m. Steve, Tulsa's voters shot down the Vision2 tax Tuesday, which I understand to be their version of our MAPs tax. With the success OKC has seen with MAPs, why do you think Tulsans said "no"?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Because Vision2 had NO RESEMBLANCE to MAPS? Think about it. MAPS is pay as you go, no debt, and it requires a collective community patience that has been successfully formed with the prior MAPS programs. MAPS is also a reaction to failed early '90s efforts to "buy jobs" with job incentive taxes. MAPS also is, by design and intent, a city initiative that does not include the county or suburbs. Vision2 wanted Tulsans to approve a tax that wouldn't begin for several years and yet would be the basis of revenue bonds that were to be issued immediately so that money could be used to make improvements at facilities where bankrupt American Airlines employs thousands of Tulsa County residents. Then consider that the initiatives also distributed the revenues to suburbs and the county, and that Tulsa had minority representation in the group that was to oversee spending of the money. I was very surprised when I read reports of Mayor Mick Cornett making speaking engagements in Tulsa at the invite of Vision2 proponents and how his comments did not point out these differences when his hosts were making such strong comparisons to MAPS. The debt angle of VIsion2 alone is so far off from the basis of MAPS - we build our projects without debt. Vision2 would have diverted millions and millions of dollars to bond interest . I've heard critics say it would be like me wanting a new car today, but setting up a loan with 19 percent interest that accumulates for several years before I begin making payments....
Bob 10:26 a.m. Just seems odd... I presume it was less expensive to go with chrome and glass
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. On the Braniff Building? No, I've not heard even critics of the glass facade suggest cost was the motivation on that decision.
Dan 10:27 a.m. Message board rumors have suggested that (at least a part of) a major oil and gas company may be considering relocating some significant portion of their operations to downtown OKC from Houston. (I'm not talking about Devon). Care to comment? Are you aware of anything that should give us hope of this coming to pass?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. Message board rumors are message board rumors. I love and appreciate OKC Talk, I've been a member since 2005, and a lot of great information and discussion can be found on the site. But again, I'm not going to get caught up in speculation.
Bob 10:28 a.m. The same kind of thing is happening in the Chesapeake campus. Buildings in the core are all brick and the buldings East of Classen are all chrome and glass.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. Good observation.
Carrie 10:29 a.m. testing
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. You pass. It's working!
Carrie 10:29 a.m. Hello?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. Hello!
Carrie 10:29 a.m. Let's see. Comments from two guests and Bob, Brent and Dan. Feels a little clubby and sort of
Carrie 10:29 a.m. and kind of like a good ole boys club. That doesn't seem right.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. No, it's all about who gets their questions logged in first! Carrie, welcome aboard! What interests you today?
Pat 10:30 a.m. Any time lines for when the new boulevard decisions are made ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. A presentation is coming up later this month.
Guest 10:30 a.m. Does Steve take comments from anyone not named Bob, Brent or Dan?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. Yes. There's a guy named Nick who is almost always part of this chat. Nick! Nick! Where are you?
Speculator 10:31 a.m. OK, if I read the tea leaves correctly and am deciphering your cryptic hidden messages (I have the decoder ring), it's Devon that will likely add a new, but smaller, tower.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. Speculator, there are a lot of folks who think that Devon, which is growing quite rapidly, is indeed in the hunt for a second building. And there is, conveniently, property available to the west to do just that. That's groovy decoder ring you've got.
Speculator 10:32 a.m. Braniff Bldng is very Vancouver!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. And Vancouver is a cool city. So I guess you approve of the Braniff Building renovation.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. FYI - as I'm doing this chat, I'm listening to 1970s radio online (Spiral Staircase - More Today Than Yesterday is playing). This may very well cause many of you to question my judgment.
George 10:34 a.m. Have you heard anyting about outdoor concert venue on the river?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. Heh heh... yes.
Pat 10:34 a.m. Are you aware that OG&E is possibly searching for a new downtown HQ site ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. That rumor is out there.
George 10:35 a.m. If you had to guess when do you think the new convention center construction will start?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. I'm going to have a story on the convention center this weekend I hope is well read.
Speculator 10:36 a.m. Thanks! It doubles as a mood ring, too. You can't get 'em in Oklahoma. Heard Colorado will have a limited quantity when the recreational dope smoking begins.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Yes. The song "Rocky Mountain High" takes on a whole new meaning now, doesn't it? I suspect White Castle will announce a serious expansion in Colorado very soon...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Carrie! No questions or comments?
George 10:37 a.m. Do you have any additional information on the outdoor venue?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. Not at this time. The rumor is out there. I'm not sure it will become a reality.
Gary T 10:38 a.m. Hi Steve! Chatting all the way from Paris, France! I have noticed the streets around here are very pedestrian friendly that include bike lanes. I have seen several streets with four lanes (two each way) three foot curbs, bike lanes, car pass through, one way parking then 6-8 foot sidewalks, in that order. What are the chance OKC gets something like that in the new Boulevard
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. Wow Gary! I hope you're having a great time out there. I had always assumed that bike lanes would be a part of the new boulevard. But as the first plans came out, it was clear that engineers were hoping to design this as an Interstate business route corridor rather than an urban roadway. I suspect bike lanes will become a part of the discussion as the debate over the elevation is addressed.
Beverly 10:40 a.m. I know you are having a story on it this week but I still have aquestion about it. Will the new convention center be ran by the city or a third party?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. I don't know about that yet. Good question Beverly. What I can tell you is the national convention center industry is not performing as well as was indicated in the 2008 study that prompted city leaders to seek $250 million for the project.
Bob 10:42 a.m. WOW, rough cloud today... see complaints from them but no questions or comments
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. I understand Carrie's frustration. She likely didn't understand that the questions appear as I'm able to answer them. This is not designed to censor comments (I don't do that unless it involves personal attacks), but rather to ensure the chat is easy to comprehend and follow.
Brian 10:43 a.m. How abut the Myriad Garden restaurant? Any update since last week?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. It's still on my story list Brian - my editor wants to see it as well!
Pat 10:44 a.m. Do you expect any takers on the housing RPF for the new main street garage ?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Yes! I do!
I've visited with multiple respected developers who are wanting to pitch their plans for housing atop the future Main Street garage. I believe it's going to happen.
James 10:45 a.m. Good Morning, Steve! Let me say that I think these chats are FANTASTIC, and a great way to interact with your readers. I really appreciate this!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. Thanks James. My job has certainly changed since I first started at The Oklahoman in March, 1990.
Bob 10:46 a.m. What are your thoughts on the new sculpture in front of City Hall?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. I'm not really qualified to offer art criticism. I'm a big fan of public art, though obviously we'll all have our favorites and other works we don't think are so hot.
Royal 10:48 a.m. Steve, I've heard rumors of another high rise (40 stories) being built downtown. Any truth to this?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. I've reported myself that one of the towers being considered will hit an estimated 40 stories high. I'm sticking with that.
Carrie 10:49 a.m. What cloud?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. Carrie, what is your comment or question?
James 10:49 a.m. The old drawings for Core2Shore are a great dissapointment. I'm especially displeased with the idea of low density suburban style residental near the river. That being said, I also understand that these renderings are just IDEAS of what COULD be rather than what will be. My question is, how do you see the area developing? Do you see higher density, or are the renderings nore indicative of reality?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. I've talked to developers and real estate professionals about Core to Shore. No offense, but a drawing my kid might do of Core to Shore is about as relevant to the possible development of Core to Shore as anything done by the consultants hired by the city a few years ago. There won't be a Nordstrom's, a Barnes & Noble or Starbucks. There won't be big retail malls. If the city lets the market work out organically, we may very well see housing and some remaining older buildings converted to small offices, possibly even retail and restaurants. But if the city clear-cuts the area of all existing older buildings, as it did during the Pei Plan, I could easily see the area remaining dormant for several years despite the best intentions.
Pat 10:53 a.m. I thought I saw a truck load of dirt and a big back hoe digging from under the bridge on the canal extension over by the land run sculpture park. Did I see correctly ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Yep.
Bob 10:54 a.m. Sorry... should have been crowd.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. CARRIE! Join the conversation! Talk to us! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Carrie 10:54 a.m. It's about the Boulevard.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. Yes....
Steve Lackmeyer 10:54 a.m. ;)
Carrie 10:55 a.m. I just wanted to also say hello to someone from Paris, France. How incredible that is and just
Carrie 10:55 a.m. leaves me in awe of technology. But he touched on a curb question that I thought was awfully good and would also like to know about what the curb plans are and also how many stop signs are going to be on the boulevard.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. Hold on. I need a coffee.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Carrie, I don't think that level of design has been done yet.
Chris 10:56 a.m. Steve, are the design plans for the new convention center available to view?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. Populous was just hired a few weeks ago to do design work for the convention center, so the designs, even the most basic designs, shouldn't be expected for several months.
James 10:57 a.m. What's going on at the former Rok Bar?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. It closed. I do not know whether it will reopen with a new concept.
William 10:57 a.m. Steve, do you see the Maywood Apartments Phase 2 starting soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. If you're talking about the 4th Street apartments by Ron Bradshaw, I believe planning is underway.
guy 10:58 a.m. Is there anything that can be done to reduce the amount of panhandling in the downtown midtown area? i recently visited Philadelphia, and was accosted about 5 times in any 1-hour period of walking. It certainly turned me off from living there, and i can only suspect that others may feel the same if they had such experiences walking around the OKC core. Further, are there any reports/studies that show any effect or correlation between panhandling and the success of city-core-development (especially residential)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. Other cities have been much more aggressive in combating panhandling. City attorneys have been very cautious on this topic.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. I'm not away of studies on housing and panhandling.
Carrie 10:59 a.m. :)
Carrie 10:59 a.m. Can you find out?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. I'll put it on my list.
jet 11:00 a.m. Hi Steve, I noticed a new building being built east of the Devon Boathouse, is that the OU Boathouse?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. That might be the SandRidge pavilion ... I'll check and find out.
Cuatro 11:01 a.m. Based on the conceptual models of the new Central Park, the existing, brick warehouses seem to be missing. Oversight or intentional?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. What do you think?
Chris 11:01 a.m. Steve - can you tell me what is being built on 4th street across from Leo's BBQ? Noticed yesterday that the lot has been dug out and it appears piers for a foundation are starting to be constructed. Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. That is the apartment complex being built by Ron Bradshaw.
Bob 11:01 a.m. The panhandling situation is much better downtown and the move of the bus station East will make it even better.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. Possibly.
Pat 11:02 a.m. It seems like we are having a mini boom with hotels either under construction or to be developed. These all seem to be small to medium in size. Other than the convention center hotel, is there anything on the horizon with a substantial room count ?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Nope.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Folks, I've got to get back to writing my Sunday story. Great chat. Have a great weekend!
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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