Subcommittee recommends former car dealership for Oklahoma City convention center site

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 11, 2011
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Wenger said until the city council votes not to redirect the money, the budget will remain the same. Wenger also cited city council “instructions” in dictating that MAPS 3 central park could not be delayed to allow for the convention center to be started sooner.

When asked, Wenger again acknowledged no such vote had taken place and could not name which council member had given such instructions. Plans call for the park to be built south of Interstate 40 along Robinson Avenue.

Four council members reached by The Oklahoman on Tuesday — Gary Marrs, Pete White, Pat Ryan and Meg Salyer — denied giving any instructions. White added he was certain the rest of the council had not voiced an opinion on the park schedule.

The Oklahoman Archives show Cornett as having advocated for the park's completion by 2014 in conjunction with the expected opening of a new boulevard being designed to replace the current alignment of Interstate 40.

The committee disregarded the instructions cited by Wenger and voted to recommend that the park and part of the streetcar system be delayed to the end of the MAPS 3 timeline to start work in 2013.

Humphreys urged city staff and the city council to consider taking a fresh look at the park and development of the surrounding area known as Core to Shore, a largely blighted area between the current highway and the Oklahoma River.

“The park was conceived during Core to Shore,” Humphreys said. “Since Core to Shore was envisioned in 2006, a lot has transpired downtown. There was no Devon tower, the Myriad Gardens was a bunkered area that was not being used well, and now we have one of the great urban parks in America. Are we really going to build that park as originally envisioned when reality has changed?”

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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AT A GLANCE ...

Bad math?

A report by the consultant Populous suggests the following “cost premiums” for the three sites listed as finalists for a new convention center (per square foot):

• Bob Howard Ford dealership: $31 with a subgrade exhibition hall, $21 with an above-grade building.

• East Bricktown (Reno and Joe Carter Drive): $21.

• Core to Shore South (south of the arena): $4.

The convention center subcommittee on Tuesday was told consultants were instructed by city staff not to include utility relocation costs for the Core to Shore South site as they had for the other two sites. If the utility costs were weighed into the Core to Shore South site, the cost premium per square foot would increase to $55.

What's next?

The subcommittee recommendation will be submitted to the MAPS 3 citizens advisory board and then to the Oklahoma City Council. The subcommittee has asked Populous to change the firm's report to fairly and accurately reflect utility costs.

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