So if you read my column today, you now know that there likely are some growing pains ahead for downtown, especially in regards to parking.
The Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority will likely be pocketing some money from selling garages to Devon and SandRidge. So, if it were to build a new garage or add parking, where should that take place?
Ideas that have been floated around:
- Add on to the east City Center garage
- Tear down Century Center Plaza and replace it with a bigger garage
- Tear down the middle tower of First National Center (the ugly one) and replace it with a high rise garage.
Any other ideas?
OK, coffee talk time. The best posts involve you, the readers. You’ve traveled the world, or at the very least, you think you have because you’ve spent too much time either on the Internet or watching the Travel Channel.
So, what would you do to liven up the Myriad Gardens without diminishing the gardens?
I’ve long dreamed of creating a miniature version of NYC’s Bryant Park, truly a magical place that brings the community together. Below are some photos of Bryant Park – I challenge you to not just add your comments, but also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any photos or images that might help illustrate your ideas.
Sure, we have fountains downtown. But not like this one.
Yes, we definitely need a Merry-Go-Round.
Why in the world are there no cafes or restaurants around to take in the view of the Myriad Gardens?
Several of you have asked to see all of the images provided by Devon Energy for the new tower. So here you go. Above, the entire block is shown with One North Hudson to the left and the Colcord Hotel to the right.
A park will front Sheridan Avenue in front the tower’s “podium.”
Water pools will surround the property, with a grand public lobby and rotunda atrium looking out on the park.
The rotunda will light up at night, providing passersby a dramatic view of life inside Devon Energy’s new world headquarters.
Another look at the rotunda entrance.
Looking up at the rotunda, where people will be able to walk along bridges on the upper floors.
More models of the new Devon Energy tower and headquarters.
Schematic and floor plan for new Devon headquarters.
Several of you have asked to see all of the images provided by Devon Energy for the new tower. So here you go:
While catching up on Tulsa news, I found this tidbit on downtown Tulsa finally completing improvements that will eliminate trains having to blast their horns as they pass restaurants, lofts and businesses:
“Oh, it will be a great improvement,” says downtown developer Michael Sager. “I mean, the trains are wonderful as they are on the open plans echoing. They knock you out of bed at night, so it will be a great improvement for all these residential projects.”
Workers at nearby restaurants say no train whistles will be nice. The new gates that are going up will keep cars and people from going across the tracks when trains are coming through, also making crossings safer.
“Train intersections, people get antsy and want to take off,” says Jamie Young with the Blue Dome Restaurant. “Every so often, somebody gets unlucky about hitting that train intersection.”
A similar effort is getting underway for Oklahoma City, with Urban Neighbors and Downtown OKC Inc. both wanting to end the whistles and horns as trains pass through along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks between NW 13 and NW 6.
As I mentioned yesterday, with all that’s going on in downtown Oklahoma City, there seems to be some really cliche OKC/Tulsa bashing going on. And that’s really just sad. Neither city can truly prosper for long if the other is in a death spiral. Both cities should be rooting each other on, cheering on each other’s successes and appreciating differences between the two.
OKC residents should be traveling up to downtown Tulsa to marvel at the Art Deco architecture, catch a concert at Cain’s Ballroom, stroll through the Brady District and enjoy a drink at Arnie’s (yes, I know it’s not the most glamarous bar in Blue Dome, but that’s why I like it. It’s real!). And politics aside, if experience of OKC is any indicator, the construction of a ballpark in downtown Tulsa’s Greenwood District will pay off dividends to the city for years to come. And if I get the chance, you can bet I’ll catch a concert at BOK Arena, which is truly stunning to look at.
So, in the interest of going against the OKC/Tulsa bashing wars of the week, I suggest you visit The Tulsa World and read today’s update on development around BOK Center.
The good news is the spam filter with Word Press is very, very aggressive at nabbing spam. You’ve been spared countless rip-off pitches.
But sometimes it gets too aggressive, as it did with my own comment this morning, and it did with several of you earlier this week. Please be patient and know I’m trying to keep tabs on the filter several times a day to ensure your posts are not lost for long. If you don’t see your comment posted within a few hours, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I believe almost all of the comments that did not post immediately this week were eventually recovered.
By the way, last week I discussed tweaking this blog. Yesterday’s post is an example of my trying to get a bit more advanced in display of art. I hope it worked out ok. Still trying to figure out how to overcome the font differences.
The model and renderings for the new Devon Energy tower drew rave reviews this week. But Tulsa blogger Michael Bates wonders how it will tie into life on the street.
Sad, but true, when Devon Energy announced plans to build a skyscraper that will not just be the tallest in the state, but one of the tallest in the surrounding region (bigger than anything in Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Dallas, Fort Worth, New Orleans and Austin), I expected Tulsa’s online community to react with bitterness and resentment.It’s weird, really. You rarely see the OKC online community trashing Tulsa – there’s a lot of admiration for downtown
Tulsa’s Art Deco skyline and enthusiasm for any efforts to revive the area. And there is admiration for the design of BOK Arena, and shared celebration over the renovation of the Mayo Hotel.But in Tulsa, pretty much any good news about downtown OKC is greeted with a mix of cheap shots, cliché insults and vows of “it will never happen.”But there are exceptions. I’ve long been a fan of www.batesline.com because its author, Michael Bates (also a columnist at Urban Tulsa), isn’t afraid to ask the unpopular questions. And his latest post may cause some discomfort for Tulsans and Oklahoma Citians alike when it comes to the new Devon tower:
Over at TulsaNow’s public forum, some participants are feeling tower envy, wishing for some deep-pockets oil company to build some new skyscrapers in downtown, but we have to recall that Oklahoma City took a pass, for the most part, on the building frenzy of the late ’70s, early ’80s oil boom. While OKC’s tallest building is of that era, the next tallest is from the ’30s. From the late ’60s to the early ’80s, Tulsa built five new skyscrapers: Fourth National Bank (now Bank of America), Cities Service Building (now 110 W. 7th), 1st National Bank (now
First Plaza), the BOk Tower, and the Mid-Continent Tower — the addition that stands beside and is cantilevered over the original Cosden Building at 4th and Boston.There are rumors of even more tall towers in Oklahoma City, and some OKCers are giddy at the thought of “filling the gaps in the skyline.” The thing about filling those gaps is that the new skyscrapers have to touch the ground at some point, and how these towers meet the street is what matters most to downtown’s vitality. It may look beautiful from five miles away, it may have a great view from the top story, but how does it look to someone walking by on the street?
Bates may very well be onto something here, and it’s a thought that Jack Money and I contemplated in our 2006 book “OKC Second Time Around.” We discovered the writings of William H. Whyte in files maintained by late Bricktown developer Neal Horton. It was easy to see why Whyte’s writings attracted Horton, who was trying to reinvent the old warehouse district as an old towne district that would bring life back to downtown streets:
“As Horton and his partners raced ahead with their grand plans, they followed other downtown renovations like those on Dallas’ West End, Pitsburgh’s South Side, and New York City’s South Street Seaport with great interest. They also took notice of comments made in a 1983 Time article by William Whyte, a renowned critic of modern city planning who had visited Oklahoma City in the early 1980s. “The Blank Wall is on its way to becoming the dominant feature of many United States downtowns,” Whyte complained. “Without the windows or adornment to relieve their monotony, the walls are built of concrete, brick, granite, metal veneer, opaque glass and mirrors … designed out of fear – fear of the untidy hustle and bustle of city streets and undesirables – the walls spread fear.”
- OKC Second Time Around
In his book “City,” Whyte included this study of how the shopfront for Saks Fifth Avenue created a vibrant urban corner in New York City.
In our book Jack and I then noted the obvious – that in Oklahoma City’s rush to improve, it had also built an ample supply of “blank walls” The towers built during the Urban Renewal era fit perfectly into the very sort of design criticized by Whyte. Even older buildings like the historic Pioneer Telephone Building had their old storefronts sealed with brick and marble.
Quoting Whyte again:
“By eliminating the hospitable jumble of shop fronts, restaurant entrances and newsstands, the walls deaden the very city the buildings claim to revitalize.”
Bates’ questions might just apply as well to the proposed new headquarters for the Oklahoma City Greater Chamber. Or drive down Automobile Alley and look at how Steve Mason has brought life back to the1000 block of N Broadway.
Leadership Square – one of downtown’s most admired Urban Renewal era office buildings. But does it have the sort of street-frontage that brings life back to the street?
Pioneer Telephone Building – a marble fortress?
Look for something big – and complicated – to ensue when the following people are found gathering in one room: Assistant City Manager Cathy O’Connor, the city’s economic development coordinator Brent Bryant, City Attorney Kenny Jordan and private attorneys Dan Batchelor, Leslie Batchelor and John Michael Williams.
Along with Urban Renewal director JoeVan Bullard and assistant city attorney Dan Brummit, they were the dream team that put together the complicated financing package for the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, and many of the same names were involved with bringing Dell Computers to town, finding a way to finance the Native American Cultural Center, and almost certainly ongoing work in Core to Shore.
Keep all this mind as I quote from today’s story about the impact of the new Devon Tower on downtown’s tax increment financing district:
O’Connor sees no shortage of takers for any increase in TIF funding — and she said she strongly believes Devon’s project will be followed by more high-rises in the immediate neighborhood.
“There is an element of spin-off here,” O’Connor said.
Well now, isn’t that interesting? Now, let’s put this together with what I’ve written previously about veteran developer Nicholas Preftakes:
Main Street land could be landlord’s development ticket
By Steve Lackmeyer
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 1B
Over the past few months, Ed Strawn has noticed a steady stream of surveyors outside his downtown landmark cafeteria, the Lunch Box. He assumes they are working for Nicholas Preftakes, who has spent the past two years buying up surrounding properties, and most recently spent $750,000 to add to his collection the one-story building that has been home to the Lunch Box since 1947.
“He doesn’t want us to close,” said Strawn, whose restaurant dates to World War I when it first opened near Sheridan and Broadway. “He told me he won’t be the one to close us down.”
But Strawn reports Preftakes did hint that the Lunch Box could be relocated when his three-year lease expires.
Preftakes’ purchase of the Lunch Box building is fueling rumors that his plans include more than being a landlord over the diverse block bordered by Hudson, Walker, Sheridan and Main.
To date, Preftakes has spent more than $12 million on the block. Only five properties on the block are not under his control. They include 420 W Main, a 10-story office building and surface parking owned by the city, the Union Bus Station at Sheridan and Walker, Pizza Town, 430 W Main and Coney Island, 428, W Main.
Preftakes has declined to discuss his purchases on the block, continuing his silence about any long-term plans. When he bought the Auto Hotel at 17 N Hudson, he ended the contract with Republic Parking and closed it down. Anita Sanders’ law firm immediately left a building they remodeled at 408 W Main after it was bought by Preftakes.
But at One N Hudson, the former Black Hotel, Preftakes has continued to lease the property, most recently adding a restaurant on the ground floor.
So what gives? With Preftakes not talking, all eyes turn to Devon Energy Corp., which is pursuing plans to build a skyscraper across the street from the properties Preftakes owns.
Devon’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Nichols said he doesn’t comment on work involving other developers.
And he has dismissed rumors that Devon was interested in seeing the properties west of Hudson Avenue razed to make way for parking.
Nichols said Devon is only focused on expanding the City Center garage and dedicating it to parking for that company’s work force.
Preftakes is one of downtown’s veteran developers, and is no stranger to new commercial development or redevelopment of old urban properties. He started the downtown living trend with renovation of an old automobile dealership into lofts at NW 13 and Broadway some 13 years ago.
He also took the worn-out former headquarters of C.R. Anthony’s and turned it into a modern office building at 701 N Broadway building.
Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., admits he, too, is clueless about Preftakes’ ultimate plan. But he predicted future development could include housing, retail, offices or a hotel.
It took 10 years, but the Oklahoma RedHawks are finally about to be known as the Oklahoma City RedHawks. To understand why the team went so long as just the Oklahoma RedHawks – and why the city didn’t insist on OKC in the team’s name as it did with the yet-to-be named NBA team, it’s appropriate to take a ride in the time machine.
It’s 1997 and the opening of the Bricktown ballpark, the first of the MAPS projects, is running a year late. A few years, the team was saved from being sold to owners in another city when Clay Bennett, Bill and Larry Mathis, and several other investors agreed to buy it and keep it in OKC. The key to their purchase was their belief that the city would build a new ballpark, quickly, as part of MAPS.
Remember the phrase “over budget, behind schedule?” Back when you hated MAPS. Yes, if you lived here, there was a moment in time when you were pretty disgusted with the program. Sure you love it now, but quit being in denial – you were upset. Anyway, every additional season at the old All Sports Stadium was a loser for the new owners. And as you might imagine, when it came time to negotiate a lease for the new ballpark, negotiations became … well … tense.
And to this day, I’m not sure the city could have required that the name “Oklahoma City” be included in the renaming of the 89ers, even though it did just that in its bid for major league basketball. The marketing folks with the RedHawks didn’t just strike the name “Oklahoma City” – they went one step further in upsetting locals by wanting to name the ballpark “Southwestern Bell Park.” That didn’t go well at all, and the owners agreed to change it to Southwestern Bell Bricktown Ballpark. With that dust settled, there was no more time to argue over the team name – the ballpark was about to open, the city had a new mayor, and the public was about to finally enjoy MAPS.
And so we’ve lived with the name “Oklahoma RedHawks” even beyond the sale of the team to Bob Funk and Scott Pruitt. Maybe it’s just coincidence that they decided to add Oklahoma City to their team’s name after Mayor Mick Cornett stood his ground with a much bigger fish – the NBA team – which ironically is owned by a group led by Clay Bennett.
To quote Paul Harvey… “Now you know the rest of the story….”
I’m having some pretty interesting conversations with people in the know today. They’re saying yesterday’s Devon tower unveiling makes it more and more likely we will see more high-rises announced nearby.
But where? Who? When?