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.
What strategies do you think OKC has or can put in place to attract younger professionals?
Certainly progress has been made with the addition of the Thunder to our sports scene, the creation of ACM@UCO in Bricktown, the rise of the Plaza District, the growing community downtown, various rowing venues along the river, and a growing tolerance for diversity in the city (I'll leave it to others to comment on diversity statewide). Could the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber take a stronger role in promoting the local music scene (I believe they support our growing presence at South by Southwest in Austin) or the creation of an incubator for creative start-ups? Could more be done to spotlight the efforts of our young professionals and provide financial backing for their ventures?
Any thoughts on the possibility of Bricktown losing the RedHawks?
We're not going to lose the RedHawks. The Texans, however, are seriously looking at yanking away the Houston Astros triple an affiliation. I say let them take it away. The deal with Houston was never warmly embraced when they came in as a substitute for the Texas Rangers. Think about it: people haven't shown much excitement over the Astros since they hosted the Bad News Bears in the 1970s. I'd love to see the RedHawks team up with St. Louis, restore what was as strong a following in Oklahoma as any connection to the Rangers. This could be a great opportunity to further separate our state from a sometimes dominating shadow of Texas.
What are the chances OKC ever snags a major airline hub?
The airline system is not expanding. The hub system, if you take an honest look at it, has been contracting with the loss of various airlines. I just don't see it happening. But I'm also not sure this is as big a deal as it once was.
What is the possibility of a pedestrian corridor on Oklahoma between Main and 2nd?
The problem stopping a connection between Deep Deuce and Bricktown is that an extension of Oklahoma Avenue would require an expensive bridge crossing or a massive ramp up due to the change in elevation, and it would have to cross the Union Pacific tracks. And the Union Pacific railroad, from all that I've heard, is still a bit grumpy over the effort several years ago to make it contribute toward the cost of rebuilding the Walnut Avenue bridge one block south of where Oklahoma Avenue is cut off.
With things steadily moving along on Film Row, do you think it will take more of a center state for the deadcenter film festival in years to come?
Yes, absolutely. We've already seen a growing connection between the festival and Film Row in previous years. I look forward to seeing how the screening room at The Paramount might come into play this next festival.
How is the bike share program in and around downtown working? Any chance they will expand to, say, the Plaza District?
From all I've seen, Spokies is going very well. It was expanded to Automobile Alley last fall, and conceptual plans for the new Core to Shore park suggest including three to four Spokies stations for visitors. The program is administered by Downtown OKC Inc., so I'm not sure how it could work in the 16th Street Plaza District, which is well outside downtown's boundaries.
When are we likely to see progress on an Adventure District line?
The Adventure District line is part of a much larger debate about the planning and routing of the MAPS 3 streetcar system. At the end of the day, regardless of what is said by special interest advocacy groups, review committees, etc., the decision on all of this rests with the Oklahoma City Council.
Any word on if Old School Bagel Cafe downtown will be open on the weekends?
I talked to Mark Beffort, who manages Leadership Square, and it appears this decision has yet to be made.
What is the latest count of new hotels going into Bricktown? How do you think that will impact the proposed convention center hotel?
I'm going on memory, but I think we're looking at 11 hotels being built in or around Bricktown with even more yet to be announced. We could be looking at more than 1,500 rooms just in Bricktown. Yes, this could impact the amount of city subsidy needed to attract a large conference hotel to be built with the new convention center.
Why isn't there a Starbucks in downtown OKC?
Starbucks is trying to open another location downtown. At least that's what the folks in Bricktown told me (and others have confirmed.)