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Steve Lackmeyer: OKC Central Chat transcript, Sept. 28, 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: September 28, 2012 at 10:57 am •  Published: September 28, 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 signing in at 10 a.m. to chat. You can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:00 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Gary 10:01 a.m. With the announcement of “the Rise” shops taking over that block that was once the Restaurant/Hotel/motel liquidation and surrounding areas, do you see the construction of the Tower Theatre ramping back up?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. A lot of people see the Tower Theater as the anchor that ultimately makes or breaks the Uptown 23rd corridor. Marty Dillon, the owner, has the best of intentions. But after several years of trying to put together the right mix of financing, historic tax credits and other tools of development, he has yet to pull it off. Development of old buildings is not easy for even the most experienced people in the business. To my knowledge, this is the first historic building redevelopment attempted by Dillon. Observers note it may be helpful if Dillon either partners up with someone like a Marva Ellard, Steve Mason or a Jeff Struble to get the job done, or seek to sell the property to a more experienced developer.
guy 10:04 a.m. i watched an (old) video presentation of Maps 3 updates which claimed that the old Carnegie Library would be converted into residential property. Do you know what the progress is on that?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. After a bit of a delay, developer Judy Hatfield has started renovations of the old library (it was never known as the Carnegie - that name was attached to the original library that stood at the same location until the 1950s). Expect the project to be complete in a year or so if my recollection is correct.
Rob Abiera 10:05 a.m. Hi Steve! Any progress on that update about City regulation of food trucks?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. I will have an update on the food truck situation next week.
Lack 10:05 a.m. What do you think about the reader comments of this article? Says a lot about what outsiders think of Oklahoma.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. I think one can find haters of just about any state other than New Hampshire (that's my random pick of the day). Don't let it bother you too much.
Gary 10:08 a.m. Popularise is helping Steve Mason and the Strubles see what people want to see properties used for in the Plaza District. Do you see this being used more in the Paseo, 23rd Street, areas off Automobile Alley or other up and coming areas in OKC?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. Gary, I've visited with Kristen Vails a bit about this effort, and I'm hoping to do a story next week. Yes, it sounds very promising. But I need to learn more about it.
Chico 10:09 a.m. how haas business coverage changed since the gaylord sold the paper?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. The Gaylord family did a great many things for our community. The business section has enjoyed the addition of two energy reporters under the new ownership, and I think we've had a great year so far. At a time when newspaper resources are stretched everywhere, I like to think we're improving our game and keeping our readers informed about what's going on in our city and state. Can we do better? Always. But I hope you're seeing the results of an enhanced business news staff.
Gary 10:12 a.m. I have a friend moving back from living in Brooklyn for the last 8 years and he is going to start up his own graphic design firm. Where would you recommend he set up shop?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. The section of Broadway known as Automobile Alley is home to a growing number of talented graphic design, public relations, advertising and marketing firms, including Ghost, Funnel, Saxum, the folks in what's known as Flack House (a collective of independents), and more. Being in the middle of all that talent would make sense to me.
demetri 10:15 a.m. Your promotion of the Foodies Restaurant seemed really like you were pushing a business. Can you do that for some other companies in town?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. I've given Foodies a spotlight because I find them to be an interesting story - a couple of young immigrants in a cool old diner trying to overcome incredible odds. In the past I've hosted lunches at Coney Island and Tratoria as they were devastated by Project 180. If there's a good story, I write about it.
Grant 10:16 a.m. Several times on these chats, you've said you know something but can't reveal it or will write about it later. What's with the secrecy?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Brianna Bailey is following these chats and I want to beat her at getting the story first.
Chris 10:17 a.m. Steve - do you know much about proposed development along I-40 in west OKC between MacArthur and Rockwell area? I've heard rumors that a BJ's, Oliver Garden, Qdoba, and ChickfilA are going to be built in that area or near the outlet mall. Really enjoy these chats. Thanks for your time
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. Chris, Jennifer Palmer has taken over coverage of the outlet mall area since it opened (I covered the early incentives and development phase of the project). I wouldn't be surprised to hear all those nationals might be interested in joining what's going on out there. The project has given the city's sales tax coffers quite a boost.
Josh 10:19 a.m. What are the plans at the intersection of Joe Carter and E. Sheridian in Bricktown at the old metal buildings? I had thought a apartment complex and Hotel was going in but havent heard any new talk if it is moving forward or any other plans.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. Gary Brooks and Any Burnett are making progress on their apartments and hotel development, but they've consistently warned this won't be a quick or easy project. They must work with the city on removal of decades-old storm drains and then they will have to remove any contamination from the soil. Don't be surprised if, despite their best efforts, construction doesn't begin until 2014. This is a tricky project - best wishes to them in pulling it off.
Gary 10:21 a.m. Do you ever write a story and think, “The comments on this are going to be so stupid and ridiculous”? If you do, does that change the information you put into the story?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. When it comes to the anonymous comments on the NewsOK stories, I pretty much assume that regardless off the topic (people like buying hot dogs late at night in Bricktown), it will spur comments about President Obama or Mitt Romney being evil, or this is why we need prayer in schools. The comments on NewsOK rarely play any role in how I write my stories.
levi 10:24 a.m. what have been your impressions of Ed Shadid. seems like he is ruffling feathers on the council. is he long for that jobb?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:25 a.m. Ed Shadid seems like a genuinely nice, well intentioned guy, but yeah, he seems to get under the skin of his colleagues quite a bit. Beyond that... this is a question better posed to our City Hall reporter, Michael Kimball.
Richard 10:26 a.m. Since I live in the area I think the Rise will be a great addition. However, why do you think people get so negative at a development because it doesn't look like classen curve, ect? Do people just need to chill out and wait?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:28 a.m. The Heritage Hills neighborhood put a lot of hard work - decades of hard work - into creating a very special place. I'd be surprised if they would support even a Classen Curve at NW 23 and Walker. They want to see the area cleaned up. I'm sure they're happy with the overall direction of where this is going - but it won't surprise me if Johnathan Russell is unable to win unanimous support for his project. There are just too many different ideas, too many smart people, too much passion to expect everyone will agree.
Gary 10:28 a.m. What is the latest on getting a roundabout instead of a raised section of the boulevard?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:29 a.m. The city-hired consultant, StanTech, is working up a report and until then, we can only wait.
Gary 10:29 a.m. What are your thoughts on the housing authority apartments at 9th and Robinson. It now seems dropped in the middle of a growing business district.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:31 a.m. I think the housing you are referring to is the "Tower Apartments," though it's obviously not really a tower at three to four stories high. The apartments are relatively well maintained, at least on the outside, and I've never heard of the residents being any problem for the neighborhood. There are a lot of vacant lots still awaiting to be developed in the area, so is it really that bad to have some public housing in the mix if it's not detracting from the neighborhood's overall direction?
Avery 10:31 a.m. Any updates on Richard McKown's next residential project west of LEVEL?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. McKown and architect Wade Scaramucci are working on possible concepts. We'll likely hear something from them in the next few months.
Russ 10:32 a.m. I think the Flackhouse is something different now, might want to check that out.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. Maybe. Zeeck is still there, so my answer is still essentially the same.
Nick 10:33 a.m. Hi Steve! In the video that accompanied your article about the Rise, it looked like the new facades of the shops along 23rd might just be EIFS or something similar to a cheap, strip mall facade. Are you worried that Land Run is skimping on the development effort or did the preliminary renderings just not do it justice?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. Johnathan Russell said the material will not be synthetic stucco. Architect Anthony McDermid said we're likely to see a mix of glass panels on the facade - we'll find out more when the project is reviewed by the Urban Design Committee. Preliminary renderings rarely go far enough in showing what is ultimately planned. I sense that Russell is very aware that he can't do a disposable development on this site, and he doesn't seem interested in doing that either.
Guest 10:35 a.m. The end of the year is nearing
Steve Lackmeyer 10:35 a.m. Yes it is. And I got my flu shot this morning.
guy 10:36 a.m. i haven't heard any talk of the subsidized hotel for the convention center in a long time. Where'd we land on that? If it happens, will it hurt all the current and new hotels in our core area? Do we really *need* it for the convention center to generate the business we hope it will?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. Guy, there is an ongoing effort behind the scenes to put together a package for a conference hotel. Several consultants have advised the city such a project will require a public subsidy of $50 million or more.
As for the rest of your question .... I can find six people who will say yes, and six people who will say no.
Nick 10:37 a.m. Does Chesapeake's continued land grab ALL OVER this city worry you?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. Does it worry you? I think there are a lot of people paying close attention to what's going on with Chesapeake, and our energy team - Adam Wilmoth, Jay Marks and Paul Monies - are doing a great job informing readers what is going on with this company with questions being posed by investors.
Nick 10:39 a.m. What do you think about the proposed parking for Calvary Baptist Church? Bad precedent for an up and coming neighborhood?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:40 a.m. I don't know enough yet about the project - I'm getting some more information on this later today.
Guest 10:40 a.m. The end of the year is nearing and Im patiently waiting to hear more on the new high rise. Have any new news been put out on the new high rise or where it will be built? Im too excited about this story
Steve Lackmeyer 10:41 a.m. I'm excited too. It's still very possible a story might break on a new high rise before the end of the year. Keep your sights set on what develops with the Stage Center property.
Nick 10:41 a.m. Is the new Main St. parking garage going to start construction soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. If I recall correctly. the Central Transportation and Parking Authority wants to start construction on the Main Street garage early next year.
Nick 10:42 a.m. What about the garage being done by Midtown R? Will that start soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. Nick, I don't think it will very long before work begins on the MidTown garage at NW 10 and Robinson, but I have not done an update recently on this project.
Nick 10:43 a.m. Is there any additional housing (excluding the Brooks/Burnett project) coming to Bricktown or Lower Bricktown anytime soon?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:43 a.m. Yes.
Jenni Carlson 10:44 a.m. Not cool.
Nick 10:45 a.m. What does OUHSC's purchase of the Presbyterian Health Foundation's Research Park mean?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:46 a.m. Nick, I'll be hosting my first Google Hang-out, tentatively set for Oct. 10, and this will be one of several questions we will be delving into at that time. And yes, this means many of you might want to consider setting up a Google Plus account.
Nick 10:46 a.m. Is St. Anthony Hospital going to expand again? There appear to be a lot of vacant lots around their campus that could probably be redeveloped quite nicely.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. St. Anthony continues to pursue their master plan development, and I'm pretty sure they're not done yet. Good question. I'll add an update on this project to my story list.
Nick 10:47 a.m. Is Wade Scaramucci working on something for his mom's Rock Island building yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:47 a.m. I think it's fair to say there are discussions taking place.
guy 10:47 a.m. That video i watched of Maps 3 also mentioned the development of The Edge, but i thought this was the one that was controversial to the Heritage Hill people along 14th street. I never heard what became of the plans or anything--will the Edge still be built on that lot on 13th? Has the design changed to appease the 14th street folks?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:51 a.m. Construction is set to start on The Edge next month. I have a great animation video of the project here:
The opposition in Heritage Hills was never unanimous - there were quite a few people who liked the project, and a hard core group of about two dozen residents who were opposed to it. Some concerns were addressed, other concerns were not. Some people clearly simply did not like the idea of any apartments, no matter how nice, being built in MidTown so close to Heritage Hills. I do not recall any opposition being voiced by those in MidTown.
Guest 10:52 a.m. What is the news on the new high rise in downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. I promise when I have something to report on a high rise, I'll be putting it in the paper.
Charles 10:52 a.m. So I hear there will be a new high rise. Any clue on when this will happen?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. Nothing I can report at this time.
Avery 10:52 a.m. Any hotels planned for downtown over 12 stories, besides convention center hotel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. Not that I know of.
guy 10:53 a.m. Is there any push for the buildings downtown to have more store front commercial space along their bottom floors? (There are an awful lot of streets you can walk downtown where the sides of buildings are "blank" for quite a great distance.)
Steve Lackmeyer 10:56 a.m. Ah yes, the blank walls, as noted by the late William Whyte... (I wrote about this topic at OKC Central: There are Urban Design guidelines that prevent the sort of development we saw in the 1970s, but ultimately, it all comes down to consumer demand. The market must be there for any space to actually attract the kind of retail tenants we all hope to see at street level. We're seeing progress along Automobile Alley. But the Central Business District remains a dicey proposition.
Guest 10:57 a.m. Wasn't the City looking to build 3 new garages? If so, is there an estimated time we might learn the locations of the other 2?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Two are announced: The city is building the 750-space garage south of City Hall, and a public/private partnership will build a 350-space garage at NW 10 and Robinson. I sense the city is waiting on a couple of potential projects to go public before making any moves on a third garage.
Nick 10:58 a.m. Yes? Details?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:58 a.m. Details on what?
Chris 10:58 a.m. I saw a map on the Chamber's website the other day of a rendering of the new maps park that included what looked like several neighborhoods of single family houses in the park along the river. I had not heard that aspect of the park mentioned before. Is this a real possibility and do you think people who buy houses in such a neighborhood?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:00 a.m. The park is one of the MAPS 3 projects and will be built over the next few years north of the new I-40, south of the future boulevard, and between Robinson and Walker Avenues. As for housing, etc., that's all speculation, though I do know of a couple developers considering building apartments in the area.
g 11:00 a.m. Steve, where do you think the Convention location is moving to?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. It may stay where it is targeted for now - on the former Fred Jones Ford site south of the Myriad Gardens. The MAPS 3 citizens committee rejected a suggestion that the site be reconsidered. I suspect the debate isn't over. If it were to move, and this is purely a parlor game type discussion, I suspect that southeast Bricktown, the site south of the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the lumberyard south of the Harkins theater could all be in play.
Guest 11:02 a.m. I hope P180 puts in as many hours on roads as they did on the civic center park. went to blue man last week on a saturday and they had dozens or workers for the park as my kid fell on a broken up sidewalk
Steve Lackmeyer 11:02 a.m. Yep.
g 11:03 a.m. What is your update on the convention center location? Share!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. See my prior comment.
Avery 11:03 a.m. Will Chase Tower ever be given a facelift?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. Under the current owner? Anything is possible. But not sure that's likely.
Nick 11:04 a.m. I read that the owner of the Santa Fe Rail Station on EK Gaylord rebuffed the city's offer and is working on a counter-offer. Are we going to see a compromise reached or is it back to the drawing board?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. It's all a part of the art of negotiation. It's not necessarily Glengarry Glen Ross, but it's not uncommon for these things to get a bit heated, with ups and downs.
Nick 11:05 a.m. More housing for Lower Bricktown...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:06 a.m. OK. Yes. I don't know of any further housing development planned for Lower Bricktown - I only know of restaurants being developed by Randy Hogan for that area. But there is some effort being taken toward housing in the rest of Bricktown. I'll report it when something is ready ...
Nick 11:07 a.m. Is MidFirst Bank moving downtown? Surely you know something...
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. If I did, I'd report it!
Rod 11:07 a.m. Any idea on what will happen with the old First National Bank Tower. Has such a beautiful first floor.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. The next chapter in the First National soap opera is set for next week when the deadline extension for owner Aaron Yashouafar to pay off his mortgage with Capmark hits again.
g 11:08 a.m. So wouldn't OGE make a lot of money if the city paid to move the transformer there?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:08 a.m. I don't know.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Nick just made a comment where he makes it clear he is not happy with Aaron Yashouafar and doesn't want Capmark to provide another deadline extension. I can't edit comments - or at least I don't know how, so I'm paraphrasing to avoid the use of name calling in this chat.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. Folks, that's it! 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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