Transcript of OKC Central Chat with Steve Lackmeyer, Sept. 21, 2012

Oklahoman Modified: September 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers during his weekly OKC Central Chat. Participate in the chat every Friday at 9:30 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Business. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 7:36 a.m. Steve Lackmeyer will be on the chat at 9:30 a.m. In the meantime, feel free to add your questions.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:26 a.m. Good morning everybody!
Gary 9:28 a.m. Happy Friday Steve! With the renderings of the Edge coming out and looking great, what do you think will be the next great infill project in Midtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:31 a.m. Everyone should keep an eye on the large swath of property at NW 10 and Harvey. It was put out for development bids by the 10th Street Medical Corridor group, and then awarded to Vlair hospital for a new complex. But that project has been very, very quiet. .... could there be second thoughts? Or are the delays just reflective of regulatory red tape? I also think there is quite a bit of opportunity with the area just south of the new Go Go Sushi. It's owned by St. Anthony Hospital.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:33 a.m. By the way, those of you who follow me on Twitter know I enjoy quite a bit of banter with @OKCNightCourt. Well, the judge is here with me at Nebu. He's got his Thunder shirt. His question: is the parking garage on Main Street that will be built next year going to be owned by the city or will it be sold? My answer: plans call for it to be owned and operated by COTPA. He's also asking if COTPA can be a landlord for apartments proposed for up top? MY answer: no. Of course not. They struggle with retail. A separate developer would be involved with such an addition. However, recent discussions at Urban Renewal indicate the housing may be abandoned.
Brent 9:33 a.m. What is the status of the Myriad Gardens restaurant? Any restaurant opening on the horizon? Casual/formal?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:35 a.m. Some of Oklahoma City's most respected urban eatery operators warned the city they were going in the wrong direction with a restaurant designed and built for upscale, white table cloth dining with no operators on board or showing an interest in such an enterprise. They warned the concept would not work. Indeed, the city and Myriad Gardens Foundation have yet to find any takers...
Gary 9:35 a.m. How far is SandRidge from being done with the Braniff building? Also, when will construction on the amenities building start?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:36 a.m. Expect Kitchen No. 324, a new restaurant by the Good Egg Dining Group, to open early next year on the first floor. We should see the rest of the building be completed in 2013.
Gary 9:40 a.m. If the convention center stays where it is, what do you see being the best use of the space originally proposed to be for the convention center to the east of the center park? Retail facing Shields & Robinson and mixed use above? Hotel on the northern most area?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:40 a.m. OK, I'm back.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:41 a.m. I wonder if the city shouldn't step back, take a deep breath, and let the market figure out an answer to this question....
Brent 9:41 a.m. With the city council reporting surplus sales tax funds for the general fund, can I assume that MAPS 3 funds are ahead of schedule too? If so, do you know by how much and if we can expect some items to be increased from current projections (i.e. sidewalks/trails cutbacks reduced)?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:42 a.m. Yes and no. Keep in mind MAPS sales taxes also were down during the worst of the recession, and because it's a limited term tax, sometimes the surplus of today simply catches up what happened yesterday.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:43 a.m. The city is looking at tapping into healthy reserves to address concerns about the shortage in budgeting for the sidewalks
James 9:43 a.m. Now that Randy Hogan has been told "No." do you see hope for better development Lower Bricktown? And if you were playing SimCity with LB, what would you do there?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:45 a.m. Oh wow, you should see some of the cool stuff I used to create back when I had time to play Sim City I loved that game. There's quite the debate brewing over what has happened to date in Lower Bricktown and whether a new direction should be called for. Now that debate includes some of the city's most powerful people. Let's see what happens....
Brent 9:45 a.m. What authority, if any, does the Bricktown Association (or other entity) have to require the canal level eyesores such as sandbags, loose dirt, etc. to be removed and cleaned? And if they have any, why is it not being exercised (I've had several out of town guests complain to me about those very things)?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:47 a.m. The association has responsibility for keeping the canal clean. As for sandbags, loose dirt, the only such case of that I recall was at the Oklahoma Hardware Building, and I believe that's been cleaned up by the new owners, ACM@UCO. The association in general can call the city's Action Line, just like you and I, on code and litter and such.
Guest 9:47 a.m. Good morning Steve. How is Nebu for breakfast? The Edge looks to be a great addition if built as sold. Have you seen a timeline for construction and completion?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:48 a.m. I really like Nebu for breakfast. I hope Chef Phil won't be upset if I say I like their breakfasts better than their lunches..... As for The Edge, construction begins late next month, and if I recall correctly, we'll see some units ready for occupancy by spring, 2014.
Guest 9:48 a.m. Valir Hospital...? The rehab group?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:48 a.m. Yes. That's the deal I was referring to earlier.
Scott 9:48 a.m. Any speculation for the Villa Teresa property?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:49 a.m. I hear the Sisters are still very much mourning the loss of this great school, and it may be a while before any sale is contemplated. Have no doubt - this property will be in high demand. There will be pitches for housing and offices.... that's pretty much a given.
Jill 9:49 a.m. Are you hearing anything on the OCURA property at 4th and EK Gaylord in terms of who purchased it and/or plans? I noticed it was purchased by an LLC that was created this August.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:50 a.m. Not yet. I hate LLCs. ;)
Kerry 9:50 a.m. What would you think of a City ordinance that would require developers in the urban core to also include a 3D model in Google Earth so that city officials and the public could see how a building interacts with the surrounding neighborhood?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:50 a.m. Kerry, there are some openings currently in the Oklahoma City Planning Department.... just saying....
Tom 9:51 a.m. When will Devon employees be 100% moved into the new Devon Tower?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:51 a.m. 100 percent? Funny you should ask that....
Steve Lackmeyer 9:52 a.m. Some answers will have to be found in future stories.
Guest 9:52 a.m. I think 'The Lost Ogle' hacked into the system and is messing with both of you!! ;-D
Steve Lackmeyer 9:52 a.m. Nah. It's just me struggling with CoverItLive....
Bryan 9:52 a.m. Whats the latest on the Kevin Durant restaurant?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:53 a.m. Before Kevin can begin grilling steaks and setting tables, the design of this building will have to be addressed in a manner that satisfies the concerns of the Oklahoma City Urban Reneal Authority.
Jack 9:54 a.m. When will the new I-40 be totally complete
Steve Lackmeyer 9:55 a.m. In our lifetime hopefully. Until the boulevard design is settled and the road is built, and other connections are finished.... we're probably looking at 2015-2016... that is a blend of ODOT's schedule and my skepticism.
Randy 9:55 a.m. Steve: how long have you been with the Oklahoman? I recall working with you when I was at Integris back in 1995 or so....
Steve Lackmeyer 9:57 a.m. I started at The Oklahoman as a full-time reporter in March, 1990, just shortly before my graduation from Oklahoma Christian University. I covered crime those first few years, then, after the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, I made the move into covering downtown, etc. (to this day I can't stand violence)
Tom 9:57 a.m. Why can't the city change the requirement for sidewalk width? 5' wide sidewalks are a bit ridiculous.
Steve Lackmeyer 9:57 a.m. Good question. I don't know...
Matt 9:57 a.m. Any new mumblings about the potential mystery tower? Anything new on stage center and ne 4th/gaylord? Thanks Steve
Steve Lackmeyer 9:58 a.m. My answer on this will be the same each week until you read a story that updates either topic: Stage Center is almost certain to be torn down. And there is a high likelihood a very big development will be pitched for that site.
Gary 9:58 a.m. Steve Mason bought the furniture and bedding store in the Plaza District and says it will be used as “retail.” Any clue as to what he is going to do and when it might start?
Steve Lackmeyer 9:59 a.m. I'll have an update soon on Steve Mason's growing involvement in the 16th Street Plaza District.
Dan 9:59 a.m. Steve, has there been any more talk about the acquisitions on NW 23rd & Walker (ie. the "Going Out for Business" Furniture liquidator eyesore)?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:00 a.m. All reports up until now have been premature. But I do believe the furniture liquidation store will soon have it's last going out of business story.
LarryS 10:00 a.m. Hi Steve, do you know of any plans for more housing in Bricktown? There seem to be a LOT of bars in Bricktown...if housing were built then more retail would be encouraged...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:01 a.m. Housing is in the works for several of the old warehouses - or at least being attempted. And remember, Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett are planning a big housing project on E Sheridan.
jet 10:01 a.m. I was on one of the Devon boats and the guide mentioned that someone had purchased an old ferris wheel was restoring it with hopes of putting it next to the Oklahoma river. Have you heard anything about this? I'm not sure how that would be received, if true.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:03 a.m. I reported extensively on this several years ago. Grant Humphreys, who developed Block 42 in Deep Deuce, bought the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel on eBay when it was being replaced with a bigger, more modern ferris wheel with LED lighting. That ferris wheel was disassembled and put into storage for use as part of a development on the old Downtown Airpark along Western Avenue on the south shore of the river. The development, however, was put on hold when the economy tanked in 2008. I do not sense anything is moving forward with the site anytime soon.... don't be surprised if there are talks about using the Ferris Wheel at a different location.
Tom 10:03 a.m. Trivia Question: What day is the 20th anniversary of the Bricktown Brewery?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. I don't know. I hadn't thought about this, but I imagine it's sometime this fall or winter.
Erick 10:04 a.m. What are the chances of changing the property tax structure for certain areas of downtown (or all of it) to where vacant lots are taxed more than lots with structures on them?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:04 a.m. Such an approach has been taken in other cities. I am not aware of any such effort in Oklahoma City.
David 10:04 a.m. The boulevard discussion have become very quiet lately. Have you any updates?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:05 a.m. An independent, out of state engineering firm (StanTech) was hired to come up with alternatives to the elevated roadway design pushed by ODOT. We're awaiting the results of that report.
LarryS 10:05 a.m. You think maybe we could suggest to Kevin Durant to include apartments or condos above his restaurant?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Kevin Durant really has very little to do with the restaurant other than he is associating his name, good will with the operation. The restaurant will be owned and operated by the Hal Smith Group, which also owns Louie's, Charleston's and Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill. The building will be owned by developer Randy Hogan. And it is Randy Hogan who decided to push for the current one-story, parking oriented structure that is so unpopular with many of my readers and with civic leaders.
Gary S. 10:07 a.m. What ever happed to the Restaurant / Club project at 1501 Broadway? I believe they were going to call it broadway Station.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. The club died. The property is again for lease. Heritage Hills residents effectively argued it would not be a good addition to the neighborhood.
Michael 10:08 a.m. Speaking of the Boulevard... the rumor mill has been pretty mum about it lately! Any updates there or are we just waiting to hear something?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:08 a.m. Just waiting for that report by StanTech
BJR 10:09 a.m. Steve: Have seen the drawings for the proposed development at NW 23rd and Walker? It was fairly impressive.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. Looking forward to seeing them soon.
Tootie. 10:10 a.m. What is the current status of the downtown trolley (the one with metal tracks) and the transportation hub?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:10 a.m. Design and planning are continuing.
Tom 10:11 a.m. What is your sense of how the new Paramount Theater is doing? Their business model seems a bit odd, what with having to become a member before you can learn what movies are showing. I've felt that OKC would be able to support a legit arthouse movie theater in addition to the "
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. The theater membership is cited by some as an unfortunate example of how decades-long regulations upheld by the ABLE Commission with resistance to change or reforms creates unintended hardships for business owners and consumers...
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. I do think there's a demand for a screening room, coffee shop like Paramount OKC. I'll be going there Saturday night after going to Movie Clubbed at the Oklahoma CIty Art Museum.
Scott 10:14 a.m. Many of the Midtown residents (Sieber for example) seem to have dogs and I assume the pet population will continue to increase. Does anyone ever talk about the need for other dog parks other than the one at the Myriad Gardens or even more small areas of green space located throughout the area?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. Good question Scott! I've not heard such talk, but this may be a topic for a future OKC Central column. Please email me if you live in MidTown, own a pet.
Tom 10:15 a.m. in addition to the Art Museum. Ther approach strikes me as self-defeating.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. I understand the frustration. The membership is not an approach chosen by The Paramount. I'm told it was pretty much their only option due to our state's beverage laws.
Jill 10:16 a.m. Speaking of Steve Mason, have you heard any plans for the 8th Street properties he's purchased?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. Not yet.
Erick 10:16 a.m. You said that housing is in the works for several of the old warehouses; is the Meineke building apartment project still on life support?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. I have hope we'll see something done with that property.
Andrew 10:16 a.m. Speaking of the ferris wheel, have you had a chance to visit the Humpheries new development on Eufaula, Carlton Landing?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. Not yet, but I hope to soon.
BethanySooner 10:17 a.m. Steve, I've been wondering who the future tenants of the Dowell Tower might be, do you have any insight? Also, could it be possible that Sandridge might lease or purchase that space and then possibly not build a tower to the east of their current building?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. Anything is possible. Dowell is going slow on the building, and he has in the past indicated he will be leasing to smaller tenants - law firms, etc.
Michael 10:17 a.m. Sorry, there is a huge lag whenever I post.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:17 a.m. No problem.
MDZ 10:18 a.m. Are you concerned by the recent exodus seemingly by so many city planners? What are some ways that public works, transit and planning can better integrate their efforts?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:20 a.m. Yes. The city has lost almost all of its most respected, innovative planners in the past year. I've talked to some of these folks. They say they are frustrated by the unprecedented dominance of decision making at City Hall by engineers. They say they feel like planning has been diminished as a consideration on public works projects, MAPS and other big initiatives.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. The city manager, the assistant city manager, public works director and MAPS 3 coordinator are all engineers - and they are the ones calling many of the shots on hiring of MAPS 3 consultants, land use, etc.
Nick 10:22 a.m. Are you at all worried that construction of the Edge will lead to Legacy v2.0 with the end result being a disappointment?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. No. Go look at the animation now posted at OKC Central.
Nick 10:22 a.m. Any renderings of the new 10th St. exit yet?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. Nope.
Gary 10:22 a.m. Any chance we get someone with deep pockets to build a Gaylord Texan style resort on the spot of the Cotton Mill?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Not if the sale price remains set at $121 million for the dirt.
Nick 10:23 a.m. Rock Island Plow Building is going to be redeveloped starting in the first half of 2013? Yay or nay?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:23 a.m. Nay. Take out "first half..." and I say "possibly..."
Jill 10:24 a.m. We've got the same issue with dogs in Deep Deuce. Especially now that one of our pocket parks has been made off limits to dogs. Sadly, it had the softest grass and my dog loved rolling in it. The Myriad Gardens dog park has fake grass. I'm hoping for a really big dog park with real grass in the new central park.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. What pocket park was made off limits to dogs?
Jill 10:26 a.m. The one on Walnut and 3rd with the sculpture.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. I didn't know that. Interesting.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. Sounds like a column or story on downtown dog ownership, etc, may be in order.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. Folks, I've got to log off now. Have a great weekend. And please consider joining me at the 8 p.m. screening tomorrow with the Movie Clubbed guys!
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. Read more about Movie Clubbed at www.okccentral.com

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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