Today is the deadline for applications for the president’s job at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. – a job recently vacated by Brett Hamm.
During the past few weeks a surprising number of people have contacted me saying they’re interested in the job and asking if I think they’ve got a chance at it. That puts me in a difficult position, because my job is to report what I see, what I hear and to ask difficult questions.
But here’s some general guidance provided by those in the know, and from what I’ve seen and heard:
- If you’re a legislator whose idea of downtown experience is having dined in Bricktown, attended a conference or ball at the Cox Convention Center and seen a concert at Ford Center, don’t bother applying. Sure, you think you’re a great leader. But that won’t necessarilly impress the folks downtown.
- If you work or previously worked within county government, they’re laughing at you for even thinking you can get this job.
- If you are in the private sector and previously engaged in bitter nasty battles with City Hall, be advised, the search committee wants someone who actually can work with, not against, the city staffers who are critical to long term planning, finance, bonds, contracts and public works. And no, being a popular guy with the public isn’t likely going to overcome such negatives.
- Experience in tourism isn’t a bad thing – but this job isn’t about running the CVB or any of the downtown attractions.
- Marketing experience isn’t a bad thing either. But it may not be enough to navigate all the complexities of 21st century downtown Oklahoma City (see Brett Hamm).
So, you’re still thinking you would be great as president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.? OK, hotshots, answer the following questions:
1. What is a BID? How are BIDs being used differently in other cities?
2. What is a TIF? How are TIFs being used differently in other cities?
3. Explain how it might be difficult finding office space downtown for a large company if the vacancy rate is still more than 20 percent?
4. What is a “streetscape?” Do you consider Automobile Alley to be a successful example of a “streetscape”? If so, why?
5. How close should ties be between the Greater OKC Chamber and Downtown OKC Inc? What dangers, if any, are posed by those ties becoming too close?
6. What are the “Four Points” taught with the country’s Main Street organizations? How can they be implemented in downtown Oklahoma City?
7. What is the role of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority downtown for the next 20 years?
8. How would you address the challenges being faced by downtown’s urban design committees? Or do you think that the recent exclusing of most of downtown’s architects from committee membership is not that big a deal?
9. How do you bring retail back downtown? Is there a danger of having too many restaurants and clubs in Bricktown? Should there be a moratorium on budget hotels?
10. Why do you think downtown will be better off if you’re in one of the most visible, important jobs tasked with continuing its resurgence?
(yes, my friends, today’s post is addressed at those of you who have called me)
I certainly wasn’t sure what to think when Carl’s Jr. opened for business earlier this year along Main Street. The spot chosen, at first glance, should be a good one. Lots of visibility to Main Street and Broadway and good pedestrian traffic.
And yet the spot has seen plenty of restaurants come and go over the years. Some were good, some not. For whatever reason, one eatery in that spot, The Zoo (I think that was the name) sticks out in my head as one of the better restaurants. But that dates back to when I worked downtown in the early 1980s as an office intern.
Anyway, Carl’s Jr. is now closed. Which is odd, because with the NBA coming to town, it might have become a popular cheap and quick meal on the go before home games. I suspect the space won’t be empty for long. I’m seeing evidence of an onslaught of new restaurants and clubs being planned around the arrival of the Thunder at Ford Center.
Now, will any of them be any good? How many will stay open for more than a year or so?
The folks at the Edmond shop say the downtown location will be open this month. I will soon have a new favorite downtown lunch spot.
The old Sonny and Cher song is in my head today as I contemplate what is and isn’t happening downtown compared to the events nationwide.
Things are still moving forward, despite warnings that the end of the world is near thanks to a drunken party on Wall Street that went on way too long. So, what’s the scorecard?
- Ron Bradshaw is moving forward with yet another phase of construction of the Lofts at Maywood Park.
- Grant Humphreys is planning to start construction on the Flatiron later this month.
- Demolition of the old Steffen’s Dairy has begun on Main Street in Bricktown, which is still set to be followed by construction of a Holiday Inn Express.
- The land sale went through at Lincoln and Sheridan for what is set to be a Candlewood Inn at the east end of Bricktown.
One final tidbit – expect more restaurants, clubs and shops to open in Bricktown this next month or so as the start of the upcoming NBA season begins with the Thunder at Ford Center. But if this financial crisis continues on Wall Street, I’m hearing it’s more and more likely that a major Bricktown property owner could end up being forced to sell their properties at a price far less than what’s being sought, or they could risk bankruptcy (no, I’m not naming names).
But no, it’s of a restroom next to Hooters in the Miller Jackson building along the Bricktown Canal.
The owner of the building is Jeff Brown.