I agree with the suggestion that Des Moines, Iowa, might surprise some people who might not think of it as being an urban hot spot. But I too have heard a lot about development in this city. So here’s our You Tube downtown tour of the day.
Chaos at Couch Park/Kerr Park today as storms destroyed nine tents set up for the first Farmers’ Market of the season. Photos provided by Downtown OKC Inc.
So, yes, it was a rough day out there today. Since the downtown Farmers Market was started a couple of years ago, its had the bad luck of being hit with drought or crazy storms. But the folks at OSU-OKC are dedicated to making Farmers Market a part of downtown’s revival, and I’m told they’ll be back next week. So, assuming the weather doesn’t go nuts next week, wouldn’t it be nice if the market were shown a huge vote of support next week with large crowds?
Things are cooking up in the Plaza District. Here’s the latest from the Plaza District Association:
Second Fridays in the Plaza will never be the same, as Live on the Plaza walks transform the district streets into an open atmosphere of art and entertainment.
The Live on the Plaza walk, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, will feature Plaza District businesses showcasing performing and visual art, including Struble Studios, DNA Galleries, PhotoArt Studios, Plaza Java Cafe and Performance Dancewear, who will host live ballroom dancing by Rose of Sharon Expressions.
Kids can participate in making recycled art creations, or watch as artists paint live. Musical performances can be found at Plaza Java Cafe and the Convergence Collective.
To cap off the evening, deadCENTER Film will screen the shorts from their upcoming Festival in June, a perfect chance to preview all the festival will have to offer. These screenings will be shown in the courtyard of Struble Studios. For more information on Plaza District Happenings, contact Kristen Vails at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 642-0318.
And now, a visit to the Plaza District by Dave and Angi:
I’ve been thinking about all the downtowns I’d love to visit and learn from, and I think one of the cities that really keeps me curious is Charlotte, North Carolina. After all, it was this city, perhaps, that gave OKC leaders the initial hope that they too could land a major league team (Charlotte, home to the Hornets, and then deemed worthy of a quick replacement team when things went south between the city and Hornets owner George Shinn). And now, this in: Charlotte has a light rail system going downtown and to the city’s airport.
Voters approved creating light rail in 1998. The system opened in November, and reported initial ridership averaging 8,700 daily weekdays. By February, ridership was up to 14,000.
Charlotte has transitioned into a major financial center, and its downtown skyline includes a 60-story tower built for Bank of America. The city is home to seven Fortune 500 companies and its population is 630,000.
Here’s a link to the skyscraper page forum on Charlotte.
And here is a slideshow of downtown Charlotte:
Finally, let’s take a ride on the LYNX, shall we?
For those who might be interested in the latest about the “Top 10 Hells on Earth” debate, the article in question has had a change. OKC is still listed. But the byline is now “AskMen Staff” instead of Nick Clarke.
I wonder what that’s about.
It’s always interesting to step back and look at downtown development in light of what’s going on elsewhere. Sure, we can visit the Tulsa World website and find the usual sibling bickering between OKC and Tulsa on any story that suggests OKC is doing something right with its downtown.
I’m not talking about that.
Instead, first let’s consider this blog by Texan “Durango”:
“Can the Star-Telegram please name the cities that envy Fort Worth? The only big city I’ve ever been to with a deader downtown than Fort Worth is Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ironically I was at a convention in their very nice convention center, that, apparently, unlike Fort Worth’s, is frequently used. It even has a large hotel attached to it that, unlike Fort Worth, they did not have to provide tax incentives in order to get someone to build a hotel. And though downtown Tulsa was not very lively it looked real nice, with a wide pedestrian walkway connecting the convention center to the downtown core. I was there on a Sunday. A lot of towns are pretty dead on Sundays.
Maybe the Star-Telegram should send a reporter to some other cities that really are both vital and revitalizing. Geez, just drive east 30 miles and see all those construction cranes all over downtown Dallas. Visit the downtowns of Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Chicago, Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix or even Oklahoma City and San Antonio and you’ll see very vital, booming, growing downtowns with downtown residential buildings being added.
Nothing happens or is happening in Fort Worth that hasn’t already happened elsewhere. For any city to envy Fort Worth Fort Worth would have to be trendy, would have to be doing something someone else isn’t already doing. The Star-Telegram needs to knock off their phony transparent civic boosting. Fort Worth is a perfectly nice town. Quit pretending it’s something it’s not.”
Now that’s a twist. You always hear about Fort Worth being a model downtown. And on my last visit, the city’s center – especially Sundance Square – was teaming with people enjoying a night on the town, strolling from restaurant to restaurant, listening to street musicians, hanging out at the Barnes and Noble.
It seemed. So much. Better. Than. Downtown Oklahoma City.
Sure, Saturday night, downtown Oklahoma City was packed with people. But tonight, well, I’m not so sure (I’m home now so obviously I’m going on a hunch).
But Durango has a point that can be said in any city getting too cocky about its downtown: one can always do better, and there’s likely another city that has pulled off the same miracle, the same triumph, the same incredible transformation. Or maybe it’s not the same. Maybe better.
I was intrigued by what I saw on visits the past couple of years to downtown Wichita, Denver, Fort Smith (yes!), Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Boston and San Antonio.
My last visit to Kansas City was about seven years ago. I’m pretty sure it’s changed a lot since. So where would I go, if my editors paid the tab?
I’ll start the list, and then you provide some additional suggestions for my bosses just in case they find that elusive money tree.
- Kansas City (last visit: 2000)
- St. Louis (last visit: mid-1990s)
- Houston (last visit: early 1990s)
- Little Rock
- Memphis (last visit: 1993)
- Nashville (last visit: 1990)
Yeah sure, there’s plenty to see and take photos of in Bricktown at night, but what about the rest of downtown? Here’s some intesting angles taken tonight along an increasingly vibrant Automobile Alley and in Maywood Park, which is awaiting the last element needed to make a neighborhood complete – residents.
If you’ve not seen the Sieber Hotel lately, it’s looking better than it has in decades.
I’m not sure if I’ve seen a developer go to the lengths of getting things ready as I have Marva Ellard, a classic case of a “building hugger” who did more than just talk about saving an old building. On Friday I discovered Marva cleaning a glass table in one of the show units at the Sieber, which she is converting into apartments.
It looks like AOL has removed the reference to OKC being one of the 10 worst places to visit. According to a travel item AOL did with some web site I’ve never heard of, they justified ranking OKC as more dangerous than Baghdad because of natural disasters, and went so far as to claim the May 3, 1999 tornado destroyed most of the city.
Anyway, Solitude at www.okctalk.com fired off some complaints to AOL, and here is the response he received:
Thank you for your phone call regarding the content provided to us through askmen.com. Our AOL editorial team looked at the material and were unanimous in their agreement that inclusion of Oklahoma City in that kind of negative list was wholly unfair and poor quality journalism. We have since edited/modified the list online and plan to monitor our content relationship with askmen.com in a more careful manner. Our apologies for the inappropriate nature of the listing for Oklahoma City. FYI, one of the AOL VPs was in Oklahoma City this past December and was appalled at the description of your city by the askmen writer. Mr. Werther described Oklahoma City as a dynamic city that rivals many that we’re familiar with here on the East Coast. He told me to feel free to include his feelings in any responses to this unfortunate incident. Thank you again for taking the time to contact AOL.
AOL Executive Assistant
Sure enough, OKC is no longer on the aforementioned list.
But it is still on the site that generated the original story. Here’s a bit about the writer from his website:
Nick Clarke is a professional writer living and working in Marbella, Spain. In his twenties, he’s not your usual crinkly copywriter; instead, he prides himself on supplying his clients with content that is fresh, inspired and innovative. With Nick, you’re assured of copy that today’s readers will be able to connect with.
Nick studied at Sussex University, and graduated with a degree in English Literature and Media Studies. He has worked on a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, and specialises in popular culture and travel. He particularly enjoys writing about all that is beautiful in the world, including luxury hotels, trendy restaurants and the latest gadgetry for the home. If it’s hip and gorgeous, Nick will have something to say about it.
When he’s not writing, Nick enjoys spending time with family and friends, catching up with the latest releases at the cinema and eating out.
He is currently working on his first children’s book, to be published later this year.
So here is the dilemma I’ve faced from the moment I started featuring the designs of a future convention center by architectural students: the local architectural community wants to see the public engaged in discussion and debate over design. Yet some annonymous folks in the online community have trouble with “tact.” I suggested as much in a column and faced a firestorm of criticism, taunts and jeers. And that’s fine, as a journalist, I should be prepared to accept those who don’t like my writing, reporting or observation of events.
But the drawings I’ve featured are by students who are just getting started. Is it fair to subject their class work to the same scrutiny? Just as I was finishing up my Sunday story tonight, my email popped up with suggestions that posters on this blog were being too harsh on the students.
This blog is a whole new world for me – no safety net, and lots of risk. I want to encourage discussions and debates. But at this late hour, I’m shutting off comments on the convention center post. Please know I’m doing this with the best of intentions, and I’m certainly not someone who advocates censorship.
In just the past three months you have made this one of the top five most popular blogs at www.newsok.com. As always, I’m truly appreciative to you the readers, and I draw much of my inspiration from you.