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.
Now that the CEO situation is settled at SandRidge and they are saying it's not for sale, what should we expect regarding their downtown projects going forward?
Let's assume that both Chesapeake Energy and SandRidge stay intact and in Oklahoma City, as promised by the new CEO's of both companies. Maybe they are less prominent and aggressive in community involvement than they were under Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward. But they remain intact, they continue to employ people, and they continue doing business. That's sort of what happened with Semgroup in Tulsa.
But with McClendon, we already have a man who took no vacation, and is clearly launching another major company with American Energy.
And I can tell you this morning I have it from great sources that Tom Ward is already searching for prominent and visible downtown office space.
Oklahoma City may end up with more great companies, not less, from the fall-out of changes at Chesapeake Energy and SandRidge Energy.
If you were to pinpoint one thing you thought was holding OKC back on more rapid growth, what would it be?
Quality of schools, followed by a tie between transit and liquor laws. I really don't see how our roads are holding us back - and the aggressive widening program Oklahoma City has pursued the past 20 years may actually be causing sprawl and other burdensome bad growth we may eventually regret.
When the Cox Convention Center is torn down and redeveloped, what do you see replacing it? Could you see a residential high rise there?
Well, you can make those assumptions. I think a discussion will occur first on whether the entire Cox Center block is razed, or whether the old Cox arena should be retained and only the exhibit halls are torn down. Either way, that site is prime land, and yeah, it could turn into offices, housing or both.
Do you genuinely have no idea what Preftakes is up to with his block of buildings? Or are you holding out while things develop?
Preftakes is requiring tenants to leave with no extensions at the end of their leases at 1 N Hudson (the old Hotel Black). He also has customers at the adjoining auto hotel on month-to-month contracts. The two buildings are considered historic and he knows he would face a huge and likely unsuccessful battle to tear them down. The floor plates do not work for big companies, and he's kicking out the smaller firms that are the only office users that can make this space work. So that would seem to indicate he's looking to change the use of the building.
The space would make for great housing, and could easily handle apartments or condominiums of up to 3,000 square feet. It's in a great location for housing, across from the new elementary, Devon Energy Center and the Myriad Gardens. Don't be surprised if the building is turned into housing.
When can we expect more news on the Uptown 23rd area, specifically the Tower Theatre?
Some big deals are about to pop soon. But I remain skeptical on any thing happening soon with the Tower Theater despite some assurances I've heard in recent weeks. I've not observed a commitment by the owner to either sell or get the project done.
Do you know if TEEMCO plans to utilize the existing restaurant space in the Gold Dome to still provide that function to the neighborhood or will it be renovated into office space?
The Oklahoman's real estate editor Richard Mize, made a great comment about the Dome a few months ago when he spoke about how the building was designed for a single tenant, and can only work best as a single tenant building. But can there be an allowance for a restaurant where the Prohibition Room was located? I don't know and the buyers don't know yet either.
Is anyone still trying to fight for the round-about idea for the Oklahoma City boulevard?
There are probably some voices still going for it. My observation, after watching a presentation trying to support such a design for the boulevard, was that the examples shown did not have any new urban development abutting these junctions. They did not appear to be good for building a downtown.