Yet another building along Automobile Alley is about to go through an upgrade – this time it’s the former Ernest Istook headquarters, now home to Frontline Church, at 712 N Broadway. Years ago the second floor windows were bricked in and covered with stuco. Now that damage is about to be reversed if renovation plans are approved this week by the Downtown Design Review Committee.
We’ve seen a lot of this sort of work along Broadway, which is always overshadowed by Bricktown. And curiously, we see little or nothing of this sort of improvement by property owners in Bricktown. Automobile Alley had a lot more boarded-up buildings a decade ago – now they’ve all been improved one way or another (only exceptions are at the corner of NW 10 and Broadway, which are slated to be fixed up by Greg Banta).
So here I go again, asking difficult questions aimed at Bricktown: why can’t this district take the same sort of pride in their neighborhood that is demonstrated by the folks along Automobile Alley?
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is moving forward with building a four-story new headquarters at NW 4 and Broadway and is releasing renderings by architect Frankfurt Short Bruza. Read first story here.
What’s Fresh Today at Downtown Farmers’ Market? The Navy Freedom Band!
FROM DOWNTOWN OKC INC: The OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market returns to Downtown Oklahoma City’s Couch Park, Wednesday, June 11 with a full slate of vendors and these fresh goodies and a performance by the Navy Freedom Band!
The market is open every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Couch Park located between Broadway and Robinson at Robert S. Kerr, across the street from The Skirvin Hilton. The market runs through September.
Live hammered dulcimer music will be provided by the Oklahoma City Arts Council “Out of the Box” musician Dustin Cooper.
Items available include fruits, vegetables, nuts and baked goods many of which are certified organic. In addition to a wide array of food items, the market offers herbs, bedding plants, fresh cut flowers, a handmade skin care and craft items, and art displayed by local artists. Every item sold at the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market is 100% Oklahoma made or grown.
Visitors will also enjoy entertainment, as well as cooking demonstrations by The Skirvin Hilton’s executive chef Andrew Black. Don’t miss Chef Andrew’s cooking demonstration from 11:30 – 12:30 each Wednesday at the market and catch Chef Black’s Farmers’ Market cooking segment on KWTV’s morning show each Friday!.
This year, downtown restaurants will provide a $5 lunch special on Farmers’ Market Wednesdays. Participating restaurants on Robinson Avenue include Sub Stop, Interurban, Quizno’s, City Bites, Ground Floor Café and Crave. Just ask for the “Downtown Farmers’ Market lunch special.”
The OSU-OKC Downtown Farmers’ Market is sponsored by OSU-OKC, Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For more information regarding Downtown Farmers’ Market call (405) 235-3500.
The 8th Annual deadCENTER Film Festival will take place in downtown Oklahoma City Tonight, Wednesday, June 11 through Sunday, June 15.
deadCENTER will offer screenings of more than 90 films in just five days including Oklahoma films, Sundance award-winning documentaries and everything in between. In addition to the vast selection of quality films, deadCENTER’s high-powered networking events, Panel Series, and legendary parties solidify its designation as the “Top Festival in Oklahoma”.
“deadCENTER was founded – and continues to be run by – filmmakers,” said “Rainbow Around the Sun” producer and deadCENTER chief operating officer Kim Haywood. “Being a filmmaker and running the festival are very similar – the deadlines may be different, but the magic stays the same.”
Back this year by popular demand is deadCENTER’s Panel Series. “The Panel Series is like a two-day film school,” promises program director Melissa Scaramucci. With topics exploring funding, animation, screenwriting, music, and networking, the Panel Series offers those inside and outside the industry new information as well as connections vital to their success.
Screenings begin at most deadCENTER venues on Thursday the 12th and continue throughout the weekend. The downtown venues include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Harkins Bricktown Theater, Kerr Auditorium, Independent Artists of Oklahoma Gallery, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library as well as two f*r*e*e outdoor screenings.
The festival kicks off tonight in the street on historic Film Row on Sheridan between Dewey and Lee. Set up your lawn chair and get ready to rock the night away with a F*R*E*E screening of “Rainbow Around the Sun” that begins at 9:30.
“Rainbow Around the Sun” is an Oklahoma City produced rock musical that stars Matthew Alvin Brown as Zachary Blasto, a hard-drinking, talented songwriter and performer who creates vivid musical fantasies in order to avoid dealing with the downward spiral of his personal life. When faced with the impending death of someone he loves, Zach must choose whether to face the loss or surrender fully to the madness of his imaginary musical world. Directed by Kevin Ely & Beau Leland.
All-access passes are available at every venue for $100, screening passes are available for $50, and tickets to individual films are available for just $10. All access passes provide access to every film and every fabulous party!
Schedules and more information available online at deadcenterfilm.org
The committee is meeting today and they’re once again considering a request by Water Taxi to replace the cheap white buckets and plastic line chain with black pipe railings. Committee didn’t like this request last month – they asked for a railing to be more “historic.” I’ve been going through a lot of old photos of the wholesale district, and committee members might be surprised by what is the genuine historic standard for railing – pipe railing.
UPDATE: Well, what do you know – Bricktown Urban Design Committee has reversed itself and agrees the pipe railing is appropriate.
I’ll try to post by mid-day Wednesday. If I’ve not said it yet, let me say it now: THANK YOU. Thanks for participating in this blog and making it an easy transition for me as I venture into this new media world. I’m learning much from you the readers, and you are indeed having an influence over the questions I ask and what stories I pursue.
Tom Corcoran, for anyone who might be interested, happens to be chairman of Irving, Texas-based Felcor Lodging. He is the company’s co-founder and the “Cor” in Felcor.
He’s also one of 150 top hotel executives from around the country meeting this week at the Skirvin as part of the annual summer summit of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
I don’t know how Mr. Corcoran or his peers are spending their free time while in Oklahoma City. But my sources tell me that at least some of these executives are indeed meeting with downtown property owners and real estate brokers and looking at doing deals – especially in Bricktown.
That’s the question asked of me on my latest posts with the category added “In tribute to Mary Jo.”
So, here’s your answer:
Mary Jo fought for architectural past
By Steve Lackmeyer
|Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 4B
Mary Jo Nelson wasn’t a cheerleader for the chamber of commerce, or someone who simply took a news release and rewrote it verbatim. Her questions were tough, and she went to great lengths to get the truth out when nobody wanted to dare say the rich and powerful were heading in the wrong direction as they sought to create a new downtown. Her influence on this city was in full display Monday as friends, relatives and admirers gathered for the former Oklahoman reporter’s funeral. Mary Jo was 80.
As the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority was targeting hundreds of buildings for demolition, Mary Jo was reminding us what was being lost and what was in danger next. She authored an entire series detailing the history and importance of the few old buildings remaining. By the time I started covering downtown years later, the damage was done — with one notable exception: the Skirvin Hotel.
Between 1996, when I was first assigned to cover downtown, and 1999, when the city council agreed to actively seek a developer for the property, I wrote 23 stories detailing the hotel’s history, its plight, ties to the community, and examples of successful hotel restorations in other cities.
I now confess to all the editors who grew exasperated with my coverage: yes, I was trying to steer the public’s attention to the Skirvin hotel. But blame Mary Jo. She unknowingly taught me how to bring readers’ attention to at-risk historic buildings. She wouldn’t let readers forget the city’s architectural past.
Blame her as well for my reminders every now and then of the architectural relics that continue even now to suffer from neglect in the courtyard of the Santa Fe Parking Garage. The items, placed when the surrounding offices were occupied by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, include a lion’s head ornament from the Terminal Building, an exterior light fixture from the Patterson Building, the grinding wheel from the area’s first grist mill, a spire and cupola from the Baum Building, marble from the Biltmore Hotel and a finial from the Criterion Theater.
Chamber folks, prompted by inquiries from Mary Jo, promised in 1994 they were going to move the collection to a safer spot, but never did. Mary Jo cared about these items because they are the last vestiges of a past she believed were carelessly discarded. They continue to suffer the abuse of fun-seeking skateboarders and vandals.
I spoke for what became the final time with Mary Jo last summer after writing about how an architectural gem like the Baum Building was replaced during the Urban Renewal era with the much-derided and now empty Century Center Plaza.
She loved that column. She hated Urban Renewal.
Times have changed. Urban Renewal’s latest work involving historic buildings was the restoration of the Skirvin Hotel and the preservation of the Centre Theater facade as part of development of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
For those in the architectural and preservation community who are mourning her death, just know she probably wouldn’t be too interested in flowers or tributes. If I had to guess, she’d probably much rather see that passion go into saving those forgotten downtown relics.
Here is a far better picture of the old India Temple Building, which is covered with a fake concrete tilt-up facade and may be in jeopardy of being torn down. To learn more about this building, go to www.dougdawg.blogspot.com or read about it here.
It used to be a weekend like this would be a big deal … but now, it’s just part of the mix. Don’t say there’s nothing to do downtown this weekend:
Red Earth Festival Kicks off with Friday Parade
When the 22nd annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival opens at the Cox Convention Center Friday June 6, 2008 in downtown Oklahoma City, OK, more than 1200 American Indian artists and dancers from throughout North America will gather to celebrate the richness and diversity of their heritage with the world. For three exciting days Oklahoma City will be at the center of Native American art and culture in America.
Through the years Red Earth has matured into one of the most respected visual and performing arts event of its type – setting the standard for many of today’s Indian art shows held throughout the nation. At Red Earth, guests can sample the work of some of the nation’s most celebrated artists, with opportunities to purchase contemporary and traditional examples of beadwork, basketry, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings, graphics and cultural attire during the juried art show and market.
The dance competition at Red Earth is one of the rare occasions when dancers from America’s Northern and Southern tribes can be seen together in one venue. Red Earth dancers represent the elite of Native American dance, some of the most gifted and accomplished in the world. The masters, each in their own distinctive tribal dress, exhibit their originality and skills in one of the most prestigious of all native dance competitions.
A grand parade, unlike any other parade in the world, opens the 2008 Red Earth Festival on Friday morning beginning at the Cox Center at 10:30 and winding through Downtown. The streets of downtown Oklahoma City will vibrate in Native American tribal spirit as representatives of more than 100 tribes, in full tribal regalia, make the Red Earth Parade one of America’s most unique.
The Red Earth Art Market opens Friday, June 6 at 11 am and the first Grand Entry of dance competitors begins at noon inside the Cox Convention Center Arena. Grand Entries are scheduled at noon and 7 pm Friday and Saturday, and at noon on Sunday.
The Red Earth Run, a 5k run and 2 mile fun walk, scheduled at 8 am Saturday June 7 on Regatta Park River Trails along the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City, is open to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities.
The Oklahoma RiverFest, presented by Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy, will take place June 7-8 at Regatta Park located on the Oklahoma River.
This year’s event will pay special tribute to the United States Navy and will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Commissioning of the USS Oklahoma City Submarine. Navy interactive exhibits, a Navy band and former crewmembers from the USS Oklahoma City Submarine will be on hand for the celebration. The third annual Oklahoma RiverFest serves as the official kickoff of Navy Week in Oklahoma City.
Besides launching Oklahoma City Navy Week, the two-day festival will feature the wimgo Dragon Boat Team Challenge, the RiverRide bicycling event, Devon Energy River Cruises, the Riverwind Casino RiverShow with jet ski and water ski performances, Red Earth RiverFest RiverRun, Lamar KidsPlay inflatable park, OGE Energy Corp Kayaks & Paddle Boats, Chesapeake Boathouse tours, rowing demonstrations and many other attractions.
The highlight of RiverFest is the increasingly popular Dragon Boat Team Challenge. Introduced two years ago at RiverFest, the friendly competition features 10 paddlers rowing colorful boats with hand-carved dragonheads to the beat of an on-board drum. Companies and individuals can sponsor a Dragon Boat Team for the Saturday, June 7 competition.
The Oklahoma River Ride is a 10-mile and 16-mile family friendly ride on the Oklahoma River trails as well as a 30-mile bicycle tour to northeast Oklahoma County. All cycling events will begin and end at Regatta Park. Participants can register for the cycling events at Wheeler Dealer Bicycles located at 2729 NW 50th St. or www.wheelerdealerbicycles.com.
The Oklahoma RiverFest at Regatta Park will be open Saturday, June 7 and on Sunday, June 8, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Regatta Park is located east of Bricktown on Lincoln Boulevard and the Oklahoma River.
The RiverFest Launch Party takes place on Friday, June 6 at Regatta Park. Reservations for “Rhythm and Ribs on the River” are $45 per person. Contact Oklahoma RiverFest at 405.602.1531 to make reservations.
For more information about the Third Annual Oklahoma RiverFest visit click here
JUNE 2008 EVENTS
OPEN LATE FRIDAYS, JUNE 20-OCTOBER 10
Beginning June 20, the OKCMOA will extend its Friday hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., giving local and out-of-town visitors a cultural outlet to begin their weekend. These new hours are in response to visitor inquiries and the desire to be more assessable at popular times. The Museum has considered the Friday night time slot for several years and performed extensive research, tracking visitation patterns and downtown’s residential growth. The Museum will offer visitors the full service of its galleries, education and film programs, store, and cafe on both Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
June Films: French, Opera, Italian, Hebrew and then there’s deadCENTER Film FestivalPriceless: A French Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Thursday, June 5, 7:30p;
Friday and Saturday, June 6 – 7, 5:30p & 8p
Jean, a shy young bartender, is mistaken for a millionaire by a beautiful seductress named Irene (Audrey Tautou). When Irene discovers his true identity, she abandons him, only to find that a love-struck Jean has no intention of letting her get away. Jean’s comical attempts to gain her affections gradually evolve into setting himself up as a gigolo at a luxury hotel, until Irene finally starts to warm to her persistent suitor. Against the atmospheric backdrop of the south of France, this romantic comedy is a fresh re-imagining of the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In French with English subtitles. Director: Pierre Salvadori 2006 France 104min. PG-13 HDdigital
Opera in HD from Teatro La Fenice, Venice:
Sun, 8 Jun 2008 2:00 PM
La Rodine is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini set in France during the Second Napoleonic Empire (1852-70). The courtesan Magda de Civry, provided for by the banker Rambaldo, meets the young Ruggero Lastouc at a party at her home. She later meets him in disguise in a Parisian café where she falls in love with him. Just like a swallow flying away towards the sun, Magda abandons the banker and goes to live with Ruggero on the French Riviera. This performance was the 2008 season premiere of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia. Director: Graham Vick. Conductor: Carlo Rizzi
SPECIAL PRICE: $20 Adults/ $18 Members, Students, Seniors. Advance advanced tickets go on sale now. Call 405-278-8237
In response to a story I wrote about a proposed master plan for Bricktown, I heard this complaint from Phillip – and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this:
I, like most locals, avoid Bricktown like the plague. There are too many other places to go eat and see a movie without the parking hassels and the stupid metermaids circling like vultures just waiting to write you a ticket…..I got a ticket once even though I was legally parked…why you ask?…because my license sticker was out of date but within the 30 day grace period….the judge dismissed it with costs as soon as he read it….then he shook his head with disbelief.
Now, here’s the question of the day: How is the city encouraging urban development if one can park at Quail Springs Mall and not worry about getting ticketed for an out-of-date plate sticker while parked, and yet they face that strong possibility when they are downtown or in Bricktown?
And here’s another question of the day: With the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office having a substation at Quail Springs, if the meter enforcement folks are required by law to ticket for out-of-date plate stickers, wouldn’t the sheriff’s office have the same obligation?