Another homerun for enhancing Oklahoma City’s national image. Credit Doug Loudenback for discovering this one first: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/realestate/commercial/27devon.html
Ah heck, I don’t know. I can tell you I’ve had a bad bug since the holidays that has knocked me off balance and I’m still recovering from it all. And my office computer crashed. Had some family issues to spend time on. And my dog ate my homework…
So, what’s new? We’ve got another museum moving downtown. Writing the story now. Also looking into questions about how the Projec t 180 schedule may or may not work with plans for a MAPS 3 street car system. Tomorrow I’ll have a really fun video (first of three) exploring the old Cellar restaurant in the basement of the Hightower Building (though closed a quarter century ago, the remains of the restaurant are still there). Joining me is Chef John Bennett and Oklahoman food editor Dave Cathey.
Did anyone see Saturday’s story about Project 180 possibly including two charging stations for electric cars? What do you think? Is the $15,000 pricetag too much or is this an investment in the future?
Nope, I didn’t apply. I’ve got ink flowing through my veins and I’d hate dealing with jerks like myself.
But I do have some suggested questions for those interviewing applicants:
- Are you prepared to put in a lot of work? Will those who you’ve worked with in the past say “this person has an incredible work ethic” or will they say you’re a “nice enough person”? Nice alone won’t get this job done.
- If you’ve worked with reporters before, will they say you’re proactive in getting stories out and easy to work with? Or will they say you’re difficult and often an obstruction to getting information out to the public? Ill will from past assignments won’t simply disappear with a new job.
- Are you just looking for a job, or do you see this as an opportunity to promote downtown and keep people engaged when it’s all torn up?
- Are you an innovator? Can you turn a challenge into an opportunity?
A lot, and I mean A LOT of folks applied for this job. But were there a lot of QUALIFIED applicants. Simply because someone has worked downtown previously doesn’t guarantee they’re qualified for this gig. The right person in this position can, and hopefully will, ensure the Project 180 delivers all we’ve dreamed of without losing too much while it’s done.
One of our own was captured taking a bath outside by Google Streetview… care to guess who it is?
Go here to find out: http://tinyurl.com/yclxa5d
There’s something wonderfully quaint about The Lunch Box. In a downtown that was stripped of many of its oldtime restaurants, stores, hotels and landmarks, it’s great to see a survivor like this restaurant.
How often do you see beat-up old booths with coat hooks at the end of each bench? How many restaurants have a table reserved for regulars? The building itself may be seen as a bit obsolete, but goodness, how could you ever replace or duplicate it?
And yet I worry about The Lunch Box. I worry about the building’s owner, Nicholas Preftakes, and what his ultimate plans are for the block that he’s been buying up the past couple of years. I worry because I’ve seen the loss of other landmark businesses like Taylor’s Newsstand and Allen’s Cafe. I worry because progress is so damn ruthless.
What is it about places like The Lunch Box that make us so damn sentimental? As I write this I have no real answers. I can only guess. At some point we want to connect with our history, our heritage, with those who came before us.
I miss Taylor’s Newsstand. I really, really miss it. I miss Hal Priddy, the grouch he was, giving me grief over the way the paper covered one story or another. I miss walking into his store, browsing the European newspapers, and then walking out with a Dallas Morning News (daily and Sunday), a USA Today and Tulsa World (and yeah I read them).
I miss Allen’s Cafe. Can I be blunt? These guys were flamboyant. And that’s cool. That was always cool. And if you were uncomfortable with that and stayed away, that was your loss, because Hayden Allen made some of the best damn food to be found anywhere. Their taste in art was - well, hell, I always thought Hayden was purposely displaying bad art as part of some gimmick. It wasn’t until I talked to Hayden’s partner (the guy at the counter who is a prominent performer in the drag queen community) Tony Sinclair after the restaurant closed that the art was donated and collected from some of the finest artists in the country. He named some names, but forgive me, I’m not an expert when it comes to art.
Keep all this mind when I tell you that despite all the flamboyance, Allen’s Cafe retained the vibe of an old-fashioned diner – one started decades earlier by Hayden’s parents.
Once these places are gone, they’re gone. They rarely come back. Instead we get more McDonald’s and Subways, or we simply stay at our computers content to miss out on the experience of roaming the racks at the news stand.
Am I rambling here? Probably. In the meantime, I think I’ll wander over to the Lunch Box this week …
It sure did in downtown Tulsa, where Michael Bates provided this report of a property owner who decided she would face a lower business improvement district bill by tearing down an old building and replacing it with an empty lot.
The building was on the market, but for most of the last few years it was under option to Global Development Corp, which had planned to build a stadium and mixed use development on the eastern edge of downtown, and then to John Williams, the Claremore developer who had been working on Wal-Mart, offices, and residential development in the area. While those plans were pending, it wasn’t available, even if someone had wanted to buy it and renovate it.
Mrs. Roberts hired a company out of Oklahoma City to take the building down. They would clear away all the concrete, even the basements, down to the dirt, take away the concrete, grind it down and recycle it as roadbuilding material. Another company she considered would only go four feet down and then fill it in with dirt. It was a sturdy building, and leaving the foundation might cause problems for the next building to go up on the site. She said that during the demolition many folks who used to work at the dairy came by to ask of a brick as a memento.
With the building pulled down, the property taxes are much lower (no improvements on the site) as is the ballpark assessment. She only has to pay a small amount of liability insurance. There are no more expenses to keep the building secured against intruders. Mrs. Roberts is hopeful that the land will be more attractive to potential buyers now that the building is not an obstacle to redevelopment.
In Tulsa, as in Oklahoma City, various tax policies have always seemed to favor such actions. To date I’ve yet to hear anyone try to address this issue with the upcoming business improvement district renewal for Oklahoma City. At this point I suspect it’s too late to act with a final vote set for Wednesday by the district’s board.
This past week I’ve been the embodiment of the walking dead, plagued with a really bad bug that cost me my voice for a couple of days and has me up coughing most nights, leaving me deprived of sleep and pretty much out of juice to post on this blog or do anything else.
So now I’ve got to do some catching up…
First up, an update on Project 180, starting with the following images:
This is just plain silly….
New York Knicks say haunted hotel was a problem before loss to Thunder
BY Frank Isola
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Tuesday, January 12th 2010, 4:00 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Knicks were afraid, very afraid. And it had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For two days, several players had trouble sleeping because they were convinced that their downtown hotel is haunted.
“I definitely believe it,” Jared Jeffries said. “The place is haunted. It’s scary.”
Eddy Curry claims he slept for only two hours Sunday night because he couldn’t stop thinking about ghosts roaming the hotel.
For years, guests staying at the Skirvin Hilton have reported ghost sightings and strange noises. Legend has it that sometime in the 1930s, a woman jumped to her death while holding her baby in her hands.
“They said it happened on the 10th floor and I’m the only one staying on the 10th floor,” Curry said. “That’s why I spent most of my time in (Nate Robinson’s) room. I definitely believe there are ghosts in that hotel.”
Assistant coach Herb Williams teased Jeffries and Curry for believing that the Skirvin is haunted, but Curry wasn’t laughing.
“There are too many stories,” Curry said. “Something is going on there.”
If you could go back in time and reconfigure the proposed downtown Galleria project in such a way that it incorporated the existing the John A. Brown’s Department Store as an anchor instead of destroying it and all of Main Street, thus getting it built … would you?
UPDATE: Here’s the reason I wrote this post.