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 economic impact do you think the Santa Fe depot will have on Oklahoma City?
If the transit hub conversion is done correctly, the Santa Fe Depot could be a significant help in improving the connection between Bricktown and the Central Business District. The Brewer family is to be commended to restoring the depot and keeping it maintained. But the depot never realized its full potential this past decade. The right improvements, including signage, landscaping and public spaces could go a long way in creating a better gateway for the state's premier urban entertainment district.
Are there any new for sale residential downtown besides Lisbon?
The Lison Lofts in Midtown and The Hill in Deep Deuce are the main areas where new for sale housing is still being built downtown. But there are a couple more potential developments I am tracking that may also involve for-sale housing.
Will the new OG&E building add money to the TIF basket for Project 180?
No. The Devon TIF is limited to the Devon Energy Center property. But the State Center property is in the original downtown TIF, meaning 50 percent of new property taxes from this project would go into that TIF. But also keep in mind, that TIF district is already halfway through its life-cycle, so the bump from this might not be as significant as one might think.
Any timeframe of when the Stage Center site will be cleared?
An appeal seeking to stop demolition of Stage Center has been filed by Preservation Oklahoma that will be heard by the Board of Adjustment next month. No demolition will take place until all appeals are exhausted.
Can you tell us any news of new retail planning to move back downtown?
I've encountered some confusion out there about the city planners' intentions in saying Park Avenue was ideal for retail. Note, they were talking about the Central Business District, not all of downtown, which I pointed out in the story. I think everyone involved agrees Automobile Alley is indeed turning into downtown's first truly viable retail corridor.
And the sooner the city gets started with converting the parallel parking spaces along Broadway into angled spaces, creating a narrower street, the sooner we will see Automobile Alley's full emergence as a retail corridor. I fear if this parking switch is delayed much longer (it's been four years in the making to date), we risk seeing some of these retailers dropping out or the momentum stalling. Public Works Director Eric Wenger recently assured me he is committed to seeing this work start this spring. I believe him.