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.