Oklahoma City reporter Steve Lackmeyer answered questions from readers Friday during a chat about downtown developments. Read the entire chat recap here.
Topics discussed today include: replacing the U-Haul building in Bricktown, the future of Stage Center, location of a new convention center, redeveloping vacant buildings in Bricktown and new additions to Film Row.
On the future of Stage Center:
Let me first say on Stage Center that I recognize it's place in architectural history and I am not advocating for it to be torn down or preserved. I am sympathetic to all sides of this issue and I understand there are no easy options....
But JImbo, if I'm put in a position of simply calling how this game ends... it's coming down. I see no saviors on the horizon... and yes, this is now the most prime piece of land anywhere downtown. I'm tracking several MAJOR proposals for the site. It will like be an ambitious mix of retail or housing, or a substantial office development.
On replacing the U-Haul building in Bricktown:
The U-haul folks have been approached by numerous parties wanting to buy the building and restore it. This plan dates back to the founders of Bricktown... the U-haul folks so far haven't been willing to do a deal.
On placement of a new convention center:
It's good because it's within view of Bricktown (you can see the entrance to Bricktown down the street, where as you couldn't have that connection with the one favored by the mayor) and it's still within eyeshot and walking distance of the hotels.
The big knock is that it separates the Myriad Gardens and the future Core to Shore park. There are ideas out there on how to make this a good connector between the two, and remember the city is likely to have a LARGE conference hotel built in connection with the convention center. All in all, I'm not sure there was any ideal spot other the current Cox Convention site, but this one appears to be the one moving forward....
Now, final answer: if I were king of the world, I would have looked at the Stage Center site and adjoining properties to the west of the gardens and future park.
On redeveloping vacant buildings in Bricktown:
To elaborate... we've seen some progress in getting building owners to redevelop their properties. The Brewer brothers have done a nice job bringing life the old Hunzicker building (what used to be home to the haunted warehouse). They have life on both levels of the canal - Peach Wave Yogurt on the street level and a very popular Captain Norm's on the canal level. So that's progress. But what about the upper floors of buildings like the Spaghetti Warehouse you ask... well, I'm seeing some encouraging signs... but nothing definite yet.
On additions to Film Row:
Film Row is clicking. It's coming into it's own. New restaurants, new tenants bringing in hundreds of new employees, new creative firms, ongoing building renovations.... the deadCENTER Film Festival will have an incredible outpost there next year.
And there will be a screening room for about 70 people opening up this week as part the new Paramount OKC coffee shop and wine bar opening in the old Paramount Building!