Before I continue with “the journey,” let me put things in perspective. To be honest, I’m having trouble keeping up. There are so many potential game changing moves at play for downtown, it’s stunning. I’ll do everything I can to share all this with you as is possible.
But with all these game changers up in the air, it’s more important than ever to really discuss the various issues and opportunities that await us.
So, we’re talking about a potential MAPS 3 ballot – one that could easily top $500 million. But before we do, I’ve been asking, what can we accomplish with $5 million?
Let’s start with my realization from my recent stint in Bricktown and Fort Worth/Dallas as a “tourist.” It was during the Bricktown part of my vacation that I met four women, all from Texas, who had chosen to spend their five-day vacation staying at the Hampton Inn in Bricktown. They ate at Toby Keith’s. They visited the art museum. They went to the memorial. They rode the canal boats. They were spending money as tourists. They have no family in Oklahoma City. They have no friends. They simply came up because they thought Oklahoma City was a fun place to visit. Oh, and one more thing – they wanted to ride the Amtrak Heartland Flyer.
Now, there are those who will quickly point out that the Flyer isn’t without some drawbacks (I know of one reader who had a dreadful experience this last week). But I too rode the train last week with my son and had a blast. Maybe we were lucky.
What strikes me most is how badly OKC does at presenting itself as a tourist destination. That’s no slight at CVB. Under the leadership of Michael Carrier, they are rocking and rolling and doing wonders for our economy. But their visitor center is not well located, and I’ve got to wonder if they’re planned future location – at the new Greater OKC Chamber building to be built at NW 4 and Broadway – won’t be even more inconvenient for visitors.
The Santa Fe depot, meanwhile, surely can be used for more than it is currently. The depot is at the crossroads of where people staying at all of downtown’s hotels (except those in Bricktown) walk into Bricktown. Under the ownership of the Brewer family, it is currently being used sporadically for special events. Is this the highest and best use? What would it take for the city or the CVB to buy or lease this building and make it a visitor and tourist center? Can one think of a more visible and accessible location for a visitor and tourist center?
Would a few million give the city a shot at making this a reality?
More ideas… a merry-go-round, Ferris Wheel and small pocket park? A permanent outdoor skating rink? How would such additions transform this city’s image and also get back to the basics – the quality of life issue emphasized by MAPS and MAPS for Kids?
Or here’s one more possibility… Mayor Mick Cornett talks a lot about the need for free parking in Bricktown as a way to force the development of surface parking lots that line the canal and sit at key intersections like Mickey Mantle Drive and Sheridan. Well, what would it take to make this happen?
Assuming Mayor Cornett is wanting $30 million or more for a Central Park in an area that has no businesses, has no residents and has life, I wonder what the same money could accomplish in a downtown that consultant Jeff Speck notes isn’t done cooking yet.
This journey will continue….
I see this sort of parking arrangement anytime there is a big event downtown. My question is, are the Brewer family’s parking operations going to be a problem if you need to respond to a fire at the Santa Fe depot? And to everybody, is this an appropriate way to treat a historic property?
Yeah, that sounds a bit cynical. But seriously folks, be prepared for some “critical mass” around the Cox Convention Center. I’m told 17,000 people have registered to attend the all-day “Get Motivated” seminar and that people will start arriving at the same time as the downtown workers.
Yes, I know the Cox arena only holds around 13,700 or so. The overflow will be in the exhibit halls.
Consider this: the closest garages are usually already full during the day with Devon employees. This means Bricktown will see a lot of these folks parking and likely eating there as well. Not sure Bricktown will have that much capacity either.
The promoter is doing a park-and-ride at State Fair Park. My advice: get to work early and plan an early or late lunch if you want to dine in Bricktown, or get ready to visit those “secret” eateries we downtowners cherish (that Chinese place in The Underground, the Peacock, Italian Express, the Courthouse snackbar, etc).
UPDATE: OK, I didn’t mean to get everyone down on this event. I’m sure it will be great. But don’t be thinking you can leave at your normal time for work, go through your normal routine and everything will be fine. Don’t be thinking you can leave the house at 7:30 a.m. and get the Cox Center, walk in and everything will be fine.
It’s not going to work that way. This will be like having a Thunder game in the middle of the work day.
But there are ways, if you prepare, to enjoy Tuesday and get through just fine.
- Leave home early. I can’t say that enough. If you’re going to the “Get Motivated” seminar, use the Fair Park park-and-ride. I’ve been a fan of such operations ever since I used one in Dallas when I saw Genesis perform at Cowboys Stadium in the early 1990s.
- Get to the park-and-ride between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. (the earlier the better) and you’ll not only get to the Cox Center on time, you’ll also likely have time to grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat at Sonic, McDonalds or Starbucks in Bricktown. Take a shuttle at 6 a.m. and you’ll have time for a nice sit-down breakfast at Ihop in Bricktown, or at the Skirvin, Renassaince Hotel or Sheraton, or at The Buzz at First National (all of these places are within walking distance of the Cox Center, with The Buzz, McDonalds and Ihop being the longest distance).
- Don’t be surprised if you see lines at the restaurants closest to the Cox Center. Walk a bit further to catch lunch in Lower Bricktown at Earl’s, Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill, Nonna’s, Coach’s, Crabtown, The Mantle, and Falcones. If you’ve got a big group, you can probably get a bunch of tables together at Red Pin Bowling Alley (I’m betting they’ll be the place that will be overlooked by this crowd and they’ve got good food).
- For the downtown crowd: I repeat, this is the time to hit those “secret” stops we only know about. They’re in The Underground, they’re scattered across the central business district, MidTown and the Arts District. Specific recommendations: Trattoria il Centro, the Peacock Restaurant, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art Cafe, Beatnix, Java Daves, The Iguana Grill ….
- If you’re attending the seminar and insist on parking downtown, the best secret parking can be found in the North Bricktown Parking lots along Main Street. The entrance is immediately east of the Railway Viaduct with the Centennial Mural all over it. Take E.K. Gaylord to Main Street, go under the bridge and you’ll see the entrance by the buffalo sculptures.
Good luck everybody.
I am freaking exhausted~!!! The opening week of Oklahoma City was fantastic. The bar did freaking phenomenal!! I am bringing in a few veterans in next week and the week after that as well to ensure success for these girls.
Today I am going home and people keep saying ” You don’t like our city Oklahoma?” It’s not that I don’t like Oklahoma but I have been away from home for two weeks. My clothes are so dirty that I swear my jeans can stand up on their own. Also, It truly has been the kind of hot that erodes your insides. I need to take a shower in my own home, sleep in my own bed, and eat something that is not friend or BBQ’d.
Tomorrow night Jackson gets home from sleep away camp! I can’t wait to see him.
I’m pretty certain Bob Bekoff (the guy on the sidewalk above) enjoyed yesterday’s coverage of the upcoming 10th anniversary for the Bricktown Canal. So here’s a snapshot that is blatantly aimed at reminding him of a somewhat embarassing moment from those early giddy days (that’s his son Norm in the boat). To be fair, these guys pulled off a miracle getting such a big operation launched within just a few weeks when the canal opened July 2, 1999. To read more about their adventure, pick up tomorrow’s Oklahoman.
Thanks to Leslie Spears, queen of all media at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, we’re getting a good idea of the number of Harley Davison enthusiasts who attended the national Harley Owners Group rally in Bricktown Saturday night.
Her one observation: Jim Cowan didn’t sweat at all. He literally kept his cool during what was one of the hottest, busiest days ever in the entertainment district.
One more week to go, Jim, and then maybe you can take a couple days off!
Lot’s of cool photos and perspective on what’s transpired along the Bricktown Canal since it opened a decade ago. Read the story here.
I’ll be expanding on this idea Tuesday, but I want to get things started today: IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT TONIGHT, GO SEE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK TONIGHT AT THE MYRIAD GARDENS!
I know, I know, it’s hot out there. But the performance starts at 8 p.m. and with the sun hitting the horizon it’s just another summer evening in Oklahoma. For $10 you get some great live theater and you’re doing your part to create a great downtown. The box office opens at 7 p.m. and the performance is on the Myriad Gardens Water Stage, which has seen significant improvements the past couple years thanks to donations by Devon Energy.
Folks, if you want a vibrant downtown, if you want to see the momentum continue, you can’t just say “that would be great to see someday …” – enjoy this performance today and show these folks some much earned love.
One more tidbit … you will see “Thunder” at tonight’s game… the voice of the NBA will be speaking the King’s English tonight.
For more about Shakespeare in the Park, visit http://www.oklahomashakespeare.com.
About tonight’s show:
OSP’s first show of the season is As You Like It. Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match. Her usurping uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court.
Duke Frederick has usurped the title and throne of his elder brother, Duke Senior. Duke Senior has taken up residence in the Forest of Arden with his band of loyal followers, leaving his daughter, Rosalind, behind at the court. Into this situation, enter Orlando and Oliver de Boys, two brothers divided by enmity. Orlando has long been mistreated by his brother; when Orlando enters a wrestling match sponsored by Duke Frederick, Oliver tells his opponent, Charles—a champion wrestler—that he wouldn’t care if Charles were to break Orlando’s neck.
To the surprise of all, Orlando wins the match. In doing so, he attracts the romantic attention of Rosalind and the ire of Oliver. Orlando and his servant, Adam, flee Oliver’s wrath into Arden. Duke Frederick decides to banish Rosalind to Arden as he did with her father. Celia, Frederick’s daughter and Rosalind’s best friend, declares that she will accompany her in exile. Rosalind disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede, while Celia assumes the part of “his” sister, Aliena. They are accompanied by the clown Touchstone.
Orlando eventually finds himself in the company of Duke Senior’s men, pining for his lost Rosalind. Rosalind, meanwhile, purchases a flock of sheep and a pasture, and sets out to lead a pastoral life. Before long, however, Orlando’s habit of carving Rosalind’s name in the trees and leaving love poems scattered about the forest tip her off to his presence. Still disguised as Ganymede, Rosalind seeks out Orlando to get a better sense of his feelings for her. She promises to cure Orlando’s heartache by letting him pour his feelings out to Ganymede as if “he” were Rosalind. Rosalind also attempts a match between Silvius and Phebe that goes awry when Phebe falls instead for Rosalind’s Ganymede. Meanwhile, Touchstone courts a country girl named Audrey, adding to the multiple romance plots.
The resolution begins when Oliver enters the camp. Orlando has saved him from an attack by a lion, and the two brothers have reconciled. Upon meeting Celia, now Oliver falls in love; Duke Senior promises to join them in wedlock the next day. Rosalind makes Phebe promise to marry Silvius if she can’t have Ganymede, then tells Orlando that Rosalind will marry him that day as well. When all have gathered for the wedding, Rosalind reveals herself as the erstwhile Ganymede. She and Orlando are happily reunited, and Phebe agrees to marry Silvius. Touchstone will also marry Audrey. As the pledges of love are exchanged, Orlando and Oliver’s brother enters the scene. Jaques brings news that Duke Frederick, upon meeting a holy man, has repented his ways and opted for a monastic life. Duke Senior is restored to his rightful position, and all live happily ever after.
When I started this blog, it was with the purpose of bringing readers behind the scenes of what’s going on downtown and to advance discussions on how to continue its momentum.
And I do this without a net. Hopefully, more often than not, I get it right and don’t cross a line that is becoming more and more murky in this changing media age.
Did I go too far with my post on Downtown Tulsa Unlimited? I don’t think so, but I can see where some think I was implying in the original posting that Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. was acting like a bully.
Truth be told, I’ve got it from several sources that there is tension out there. But as I tried to say, and maybe not as well as I could have, is that such tension can evolve into something much worse regardless of actual actions.
Perception is half the game, and that’s what I suspect was a key problem with DTU – from my own experience they weren’t very good at telling downtown Tulsa’s story or addressing constituents’ concerns.
I’ve tweaked my post to be more clear about what I was trying to convey.
If Oklahoma City is overlooking its own assets and strengths, maybe we can be forgiven for doing so since we wouldn’t be the first to commit this mistake. But let’s overcome it.
Twenty years ago this community had a massive case of collective low self esteem. If you want to see how far we’ve come, go no further than the next upcoming generation – teens, people in their low 20s – who are excited about this city’s future. And yes, I know some of you are reading this blog. I’m flattered by that – it’s a huge compliment, but also a burden in that my slip-ups could have consequences.
Amidst the excitement to do something “big” – keep the momentum going, do better than what’s been done to date – do we risk making “big” mistakes? Do we risk forgetting to address other less “sexy” problems that nag us. What good do we accomplish with a big central park if we can’t development the empty lots that prevent Bricktown/Deep Deuce/Flat Iron from being one truly mixed-use, walkable area with vibrant street life? How can we step up our city to tier two status if we still allow flop/drug houses to plague upcoming neighborhoods like The Cottage District/SoSA?
How can we celebrate our city’s identity and heritage if some of our most historic, ornate spaces remain dark and unused? And are we still suffering a bit from that old collective low self esteem? Are we hiding our wonderful history? Are we telling visitors “Heck yeah, we’re a tourist destination and here’s all we’ve got to show you!”
Before delving in $500 million ambitions, what can we accomplish for $5 million?