Some quick observations – Braum’s has pulled its last big connection to downtown by deciding not to continue sponsorship of the ice rink. Not sure of their thinking on this – the ice rink is easilly the most popular of the Downtown in December festivities and Braum’s was getting a lot of buzz from the sponsorship. Braum’s, as you might recall, also decided against opening a location downtown during a courtship earlier this year.
I wonder if there are any valid competitors ready to take a shot on downtown?
Devon Energy took over the ice rink support. The Oklahoman has apparently taken over the canal boat ride sponsorship. And SandRidge took over sponsorship of the Christmas tree, which will be lit at 5:30 p.m. today (great festivities in Bricktown tonight for the whole family).
I’m still tired from Black Friday shopping. Saw consumerism at its worst at Wal Mart at 5 a.m. (I only went because I was able to save $50 on gift for my son). People pushing, shoving, no organization from the store’s management, and the highlight was a woman with a full cart (far more than the “20 or less” sign on the isle would allow) cutting me on line and telling “everybody is doing it.” I suggested Karma is going to get her. She’s trying to figure out who Karma is.
We are beginning the full blog upgrades today, there will be a little down time off and on throughout the day as we update the backend of the blogs. I am hoping it will all be done today but there is a chance it will run into Friday.
Thank you for your patience and placing a note on your blog about the temporary downtime will be much appreciated. As I receive more specific times for these upgrades I’ll send them to you
Tonight’s game against Phoenix may or may not end with a win (they’re ahead right now by seven points in the fourth quarter). But tonight’s already a win – the players look like they’re in the game, they’re happy, they’re trying. Give me all that, and I’m ok with a losing rebuilding season.
Well, the entertainment side could still be improved. What the Thunder needs is a shameless promoter – someone who can take a slow game and make it snap with fun. I wonder if Brad Lund is available?
From Joe Rosati:
Just a reminder Prohibition Room will be open Thanksgiving night from 6pm – 2am. If a good drink sounds good (or necessaryJ) after a long day eating and hanging out with family then stop on by and say hello. We also have our weekly NoNo Jazz Jam on Monday nights starting at 8:00ish, and Silent Movies Sunday Nights with $1.00 Domestics. To everyone that travels this week, be safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving. And don’t forget Friday Dec 5th when we have Jessica Tate (Harpist) and Edgar Cruz (Guitarist) both playing that night starting at 6:30
Think about this for second: today we learn Gary Cotton is auctioning off all of his holdings, including some incredibly prime undeveloped land along the canal.
The Brewer family, has had a large amount of their holdings up for sale for more than a year. Ditto for Bob Meinder’s properties along the east fringe of Bricktown (the old Stewart Metal plant). French Hickman has been trying to sell his properties for more than a year, and he’s telling me now he’s taking them off the market until spring (he thinks interest might go up “as people realize the value of the NBA”).
That’s a lot of land for sale and the asking prices, well, some observers say the price is WAY TOO HIGH. We’ve seen a lot of flipping going on in Bricktown. Could Bricktown benefit from a bankruptcy or two to bring property costs back to earth and make development more feasible?
Now here’s a fun tidbit to chew on – sources tell me discussions are underway in regards to renewing the Business Improvement District that include the prospect of charging a higher assessment for empty, unimproved properties.
Sit back and ponder that possibility for a moment, and then let the comments fly.
A lot of folks in Bricktown were unhappy last year when the Christmas tree was moved from its traditional spot across from the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, overlooking the canal, to the United Way Plaza in Lower Bricktown.
Critics pointed out the loss of the tree robbed the canal of its festive vibe and created a dead spot.
On a related matter, this note goes to the folks at Downtown OKC Inc: When the tree is lit and festivities begin Friday, wouldn’t it be appropriate to use the moment to remember Jim Brewer? Yes, the man had his faults, and talk of him being “the father of Bricktown” is obviously false (that honor belongs to Neal Horton). But events like this are at the heart of Brewer’s legacy. It was Brewer who breathed new life into having such festivities downtown – and it was Brewer who reminded us all just how much fun a hokey, old fasioned family festival can be.
I’d like to tell you that downtown Oklahoma City is going to do just fine through all this turmoil. But the vibe I’m getting is increasingly mixed.
The good news:
- Leasing activity is up in Bricktown – probably due to the Thunder.
- Devon Energy is showing NO signs of slowing down or scaling back plans for its new headquarters.
- Hotel projects are still moving forward in Bricktown.
- The Health Sciences Center is still going strong and new companies like Orthocare have the potential to become significant employers.
- Leasing and development is proceeding nicely along Automobile Alley.
- SandRidge Energy is almost complete with renovations to the old Kerr-McGee tower and the property will soon be home to about 500 workers.
The mixed news:
- Sales of completed downtown housing don’t seem to be tied so much to the economy as they are to design and location. Keeping that in mind, some housing is selling at a great clip, while others are dead in the water. I won’t add to anyone’s misery by naming names.
- A very painful restructuring of downtown could begin as soon as this summer once Devon Energy buys and starts expanding the west City Center garage. It will hurt at first, but the outcome could really result in the best parking accomodations of almost any downtown of our size.
- We don’t know yet what SandRidge Energy plans to do with the old Braniff towers surrounding the former Kerr-McGee tower.
- Believe it or not, another highrise remains a possibility for downtown Oklahoma City. But see last item on the bad news.
The bad news:
- Two significant downtown employers – Quest Energy and Tronox – are in serious trouble.
- The possibility of a major bankruptcy in Bricktown is growing.
- A handful of major downtown housing developments that were all set to begin this fall are in doubt.
- The Thunder is losing. That was expected, just as it was with the Hornets. But the buzz just isn’t the same this time around. And some of the good things going on right now are tied to the arrival of the NBA. A souring on the team could be bad for much of downtown.
- The credit crunch is like a plague, and it has reached Oklahoma City. Nobody seems to know how much damage it will do to downtown’s momentum. And that’s scary.
It looks like MidTown is going to learn the hard way that you can’t leave wonderful old buildings like this boarded up and empty for long periods. Sadly, this one had a bright future – it was to be home to the Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research and would have been a great anchor. Trison at OKC Talk reports fire destroyed all but the elevator shaft. The building was built in 1910.
Here’s another take on the post I wrote the other day on the pending closing of Uncommon Grounds from Lynette Hendrix, assistant to the coffee shop’s landlord, Gary Berlin:
Janice (owner of Uncommon Grounds) pays a base rent of 666.00. Her lease states there will be addition rent based on a percent of building operating expenses multiplied by the sq footage she has. We discoverd this additional rent right after we took over but being the nice guy Gary is he didn’t ask Janice to pay the difference which could be as much as 200 per month. Gary has been loosing money each month having Janice in there. He spends approx 200 per month cleaning and stocking bathrooms that are suppose to be for Janices customers only but the keys kept by Uncommon Grounds are given to anyone who asks. Gary supports a full time public bathroom.
Uncommon Grounds rent included all utilities. Do you realize how much utilities have gone up over the last 15 years? The price Gary offered Janice of 1350.00 was very fair and well thought out. Not highway robbery like you implied in your blog.
That space is worth $1350.00. We have done the math on what we have to get for that space to make it work for us.
Your blog made him out to be a Greedy building owner like other Bricktown owners. That is so not true. Gary has made every effort to better his building. He works hard and is dedicated to making it work.
Business owners should be able set rent for their tenants with out fear of getting bashed by the press.
What happened to getting all of the facts ? You have met Gary, you have seen his enthuasim and eagerness to make his building better.
Uncommon Grounds chooses not to renew at the rate he increases. That is their choice.
AND THIS IS FROM GARY BERLIN:
You got one thing right about me. I am the new kid in town. I am not a fat cat looking to get rich at the expense of Bricktown as you implied in your blog.
Yes, I did ask for an increase in rent on the space where Uncommon Grounds is located.
The previous lease is 15 years old. In fact there were portions of the lease that I choose not to enforce such as the payment of a percent of the operating cost based on the square feet. I choose to just ignore this and when the new lease amount was determined I factored that in. This figure was approx $200 per month for the 17 months I haved owned the building. My rental rate I offered Uncommon Grounds figures out to approx 30% increase with this factored in as part of the orginal lease amount. I also compared prices at other locations throughout the metro and found my rate to be fair with everything factored in. Keep in mind this figure I have offered to Uncommon Grounds includes, electricity (restaurants have many electrical pieces of refrigerated eqiptment that office space do not have) , air conditioning, heat, water,sewer,garbage and twenty four hour security montoring.It also includes cleaning the restrooms and providing supplies for a restroom that is kept locked and for the use of Uncommon Grounds Customers only. The deck is also available for Uncommon Grounds customers and that is free of charge.
All of these expenses have doubled in the last 15 years. I believe my new lease figure is fair and in fact I have quoted other companies even higher rent than I have offered Uncommon Grounds. I have space on the third and fourth floors for $6.00 per sq ft, I have space on the fifth floor for $8.00 per sq ft. I am not sure where the figure of $20.00 per sq ft came into play in reference to my property but that figure is incorrect. Smaller spaces at ground level in a high traffic area tend to be alittle higher per sq ft than larger spaces. I. E. Uncommon Grounds at only approx 1000 sq ft.
When I purchased the Mercantile Building in May of 2007 City Walk, Third Degree and Uncommon Grounds were on the verge of leaving the property. The previous owner had
discord with all tenants. I immediate began negotiations with City Walk to secure a new Lease with them, their lease had expired the previous year. I negociated without the help of Lawyers a deal that renewed City Walks lease for another 8 years. This figure was approximately 25% higher than their previous lease done in 2000. City Walk owners were pleased we came to a fair agreement. Previous owner wanted to tripple their rent. Third Degree Advertising has agreed to lease additional space at only $2.00 per sq ft more than their orginal 8 year old lease. That includes me doing 75% of the build out.
I know there are serious problems in Bricktown. I do not want to be labled as one of the poblems. I am a solution type of business owner and believe fair business practices will benifit all concerned .If any of my tenants have problems I immediately address them and resolve them to the satisfaction of all concerned. When I first purchased the property Janice informed me the air conditioning in Uncommon Grounds was not keeping it cool enough. I immediately found a solution and implemented it with the help of City Walk.
They were soon provided with a cool atmosphere.
I am a hands on owner. Of the ten times I have seen Steve in Bricktown I have been in my work clothes probably seven of those times. I have repaired severe flooding problems that were re-occuring in the basement flooding City Walk, I have addressed an obnixous odor coming from a cracked and improperly vented sewer pipe beneath the building foundation, re-constructed the wheel chair ramp entirely, redecorated the common area on the first floor, built dumpster screens to cover our dumpsters as required by the City of Oklahoma City,replaced the old faded , tattered awnings with new black awnings and many other improvements too numerous to mention.
Each time I go to my building I police the trash and ask myself “What can I do to make my property better?”
Now you have the rest of the story.
Interesting update on the whole debate can be read here.