If you haven’t cruised along Sheridan Avenue lately, the Hampton Inn is really beginning to take shape. The nine-story, 200-room hotel will be the tallest building in Bricktown when it opens later this year. But that honor may be surpassed by the Cotton Exchange, a 12-story building proposed for the corner of the Bricktown Canal across from the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. I talked with developer Gary Cotton today and he says plans are proceeding, and schematic designs are underway.
Have no doubt, McDonald’s is coming to Bricktown. Site work began this past week. So, with that underway, one has to wonder if the blue metal building next door, last occupied by the now defunct Fox Collision, might soon disappear and be replaced by a more ambitious commercial venture. Imagine … a huge pad, next to McDonalds and across from Bass Pro Shops and within eyeshot of the highway … and big enough to include its own parking.
Ok, first things first…. hopefully this post is not as challenging as my past ones. I’ve tried to follow Mr. Hill’s instructions on making photos easier to download. This is especially important today as I provide some quick blog only updates on downtown projects. The above building is the future Candy Factory, which is being developed by Jeff Moore and Chuck Ainsworth. Observers have been waiting to see if this long dormant building at the main entry to Bricktown might finally be brought back to life.
I talked to Chuck today and he reports interior demolition is underway, and that he hopes the project will be completed by 2009. He’s also eager to see work start on the neighboring American Banjo Museum.
Here’s a drawing of the project published last year:
The project, which was originally planned as a mix of residential, retail and some office, has since been switched to retail, office and “some” residential.
Will anyone fight to save this fire station from being torn down in 50 years?
Oklahoma City Fire Station 37, built in 1996, Oklahoman Archives
I’ve been thinking more about the city’s decision to build a new fire station at the east entrance to Bricktown. Old Downtown Guy suggests we shouldn’t be trying to mimick designs of stations of decades past – but rather come up with a new design that still complements the area.
So here are some stations that caught my eye cruising the Internet. The first one, shown above, is located in Ashland, Oregon, and is clearly the pride of the community. The story below is from the city’s web site:
Ashland Fire & Rescue Station #1
Owners: City of Ashland – Keith Woodley, Fire Chief/Project Manager
Architects: Peck Smiley Ettlin Architects
Contractor: Adroit Construction
What started out as a small early 1900′s auto service repair and gas station and later converted into a fire station is now the site of one of the most attractive buildings in the City and probably one of the most attractive fire stations on the West Coast.Prior to the City’s commitment to reconstruct the fire station, the old fire/gas station was considered by manyin the community as an unattractive site with dangerous ingress and egress access.
Since the building’s completion, the community has embrace the building with enthusiasm.
The street activity along the frontage clearly demonstrates a positive aesthetic impact as well as a financial benefit shared throughout the Downtown area.In an age when projects of this type do not consider “human scale” design or orientation or have such recessed parking bays, they create a “missing tooth” in the Main Street façade.
Also, new fire stations are typically built near the city’s fringe – fragmenting any potential lationship to downtown businesses and the community. Ashland Fire & Rescue Station #1 shows vision for future developments in the City.The Historic Commission would like to thank not only the citizens of Ashland for providing the funds to build the station, but also the Ashland City Council for providing the necessary direction and vision for our community’s future.
Columbia, Missouri, Peckham & Wright Architects
A neighborhood emerges… so what’s next?
This flat iron style building at NE 5 and Harrison has stood empty for years, and not too long ago it was threatened with demolition as developers sought to replace it with a truck stop. Now we know what’s about to happen next…
You may have read last week’s story about Grant Humphreys moving ahead with plans to renovate the old flat iron building and build an adjoining five-story retail, office and housing complex. The design changes, which included a glass elevator rising up to a rooftop garden, was approved by the Oklahoma City urban Renewal Authority.
The above view is what one will see from Interstate 235, which makes me wonder how this project might change the downtown skyline. We’ve already seen how Humphreys’ Block 42 changes the view from southbound I-235. The design is certainly unique – I can’t think of anything like it downtown or elsewhere in this city.
Grant says he has the financing to get this done. He’s overcome the obstacles and is ready to move forward this spring. And observers are intrigued by his reports of promising discussions with a potential grocery. So … what will this all mean for the emerging Flat Iron and Deep Deuce neighborhoods?
So now that the Oklahoama City Council has approved buying a site at Sheridan and Lincoln, at the east entrance into Bricktown, for a new fire station, what should it look like? City officials promise the station will be designed to fit into Bricktown. Should architects get some inspiration from the fire department’s early days? Here are a couple of stations from from the OCFD’s early, early, early days. (photos from the Oklahoma Historical Society)
Couple of thoughts today…
Expect the city council to consider once again a sale of space inside the Journal Record Building to the Oklahoma City Public Schools administration. This will fill up a large amount of space that has sat vacant since the city bought the building after it was damaged by the 1995 bombing of the nearby Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The sale will bring hundreds of workers to north downtown, and will almost certainly be a nice bump for nearby businesses like Markee’s Deli.
Today’s Main Street column looks at panhandling and how downtown Oklahoma City is trying to do away with what is regarded by most merchants as a threat to continued development. And in many cities, enforcement to eliminate such solicitation is stepping up as far as the courts will allow.
I’ve provided some examples of what’s being done in other cities. What have you seen that you think might be effective in Oklahoma City? Or do you think panhandling should be allowed?
Looking for something to do Thursday evening? Urban Neighbors has the following to offer:
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce President Roy Williams will speak this coming Thursday at an Urban Neighbors (U.N.) meeting in the revived Mid-Town district. Roy Williams will offer information and answer questions about the upcoming March 4th vote regarding improvements to the Ford Center. The Chamber’s campaign is known as the Big League City campaign (www.bigleaguecity.com). ”This is another great example of how Urban Neighbors is bridging the gap between downtown residents and the city of Oklahoma City” said Urban Neighbor’s President, Brett Price. “As an organization that represents residents of downtown Oklahoma City we feel it is our duty to inform not only our members but also any person that would like to voice their opinion” Price further commented.
Election Day regarding the Ford Center vote is March 4th and all registered voters living within Oklahoma City are eligible to vote. This proposition will not raise taxes. If approved, the temporary one-cent tax would begin when the Maps for Kids sales tax elapses on January 1, 2009. The tax would last 12 months, with an additional three months if the City acquires an NBA team. Over 15 months, it will raise approximately $120 million. All improvements will be owned by the City of Oklahoma City.
Timing for the election is driven by the Super Sonics’ application to relocate to Oklahoma City, which is scheduled to be considered by the NBA Board of Governors in April.
The next monthly social for Urban Neighbors will be Thursday, February 21, from 5-7 p.m. at Café Do Brasil. Representatives from the Midtown Association will be on hand to talk about developments in this emerging and exciting part of downtown.
You don’t have to be a member or downtown resident to attend; you just have to be enthusiastic about downtown. This is a great opportunity for downtown residents and friends of downtown to socialize, and for all to become engaged in the city’s forward motion. Free appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Café Do Brasil is located at 440 NW 11th St #100 in Oklahoma City.
I just spoke with Oklahoma City City Manager Jim Couch, who says that the city did obtain an appraisal for the property to be exchanged for a site at Sheridan and Lincoln for the new Bricktown fire station. The appraisal information wasn’t included in the city council packet but is available for inspection at the office of Assistant City Manager Jim Thompson, he said.
The city maintenance yard, once transferred to Bob Meinders, will provide the developer with an uninterupted block of property on both sides of Sheridan Avenue at the east entrance to Bricktown.
Couch also said he thinks the city has adequately communicated with Bricktown merchants about the placement of the station and at this point doesn’t see any reason to delay the property swap and sale.
Interesting tidbit from this week’s Bricktown Urban Design Committee. Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, and Avis Scaramucci, owner of Nonna’s and a member of the committee, both acknowledged receiving emails concerning the proposed Holiday Inn Express. And a partner in the development team for the hotel, John Sweeney, reported reading comments at www.okctalk.com. Sweeney spent part of his interview with me answering questions and comments registered on the online forum.
On Tuesday Oklahoma City officials met with Bricktown merchants and updated them on their desire to build a fire station at the east entrance to the entertainment district. Several Bricktown merchants are worried about the department’s chosen location because they fear it will result in fire engines racing along Sheridan Avenue, endangering pedestrians on busy summer evenings.
At the meeting, city staff acknowledged they did not survey other cities to see whether fire stations had been built in urban entertainment districts and if so, how that worked out. After the meeting, Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, called the meeting a start, not an end, of the discussion.
A glimpse at the agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting of the Oklahoma City Council shows city staff is asking council members to approve a $771,000 purchase of the property at Sheridan and Lincoln - the very location that concerns several Bricktown merchants. The transaction would also transfer ownership of a former city maintenance yard at Sheridan and Byers to the owner of the proposed fire station property. The council item does not call for any competitive bidding for the city property. The council item also does not include an appraisal for the city property.
City staff did not communicate at Wednesday’s meeting the purchase was scheduled for Tuesday.
Previously, city staff sought to locate the fire station in Deep Deuce, which is turning into the first true downtown neighborhood with a handful of housing developments being built between NE 4, NE 2, Walnut and Oklahoma Avenues.