In today’s Oklahoman I have a story about the Urban Land Institute arriving at yet another critical crossroads in development of Oklahoma City’s urban core. As this esteemed panel arrives today, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the ULI’s last visit:
City Told to Take Its Problems on Road Floridians Explain Workings Of Public-Private Partnership
By Ellie Sutter
Saturday, April 7, 1990
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS, Page 04
Oklahoma City officials should visit other cities to see how they solved their urban renewal problems, two Jacksonville, Fla., experts advised Friday.
Jacksonville city councilman Terry Wood, immediate past president of the city council, and Mark Hulsey, immediate past chairman and chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, told about 100 Oklahoma City officials over breakfast how they tackled some of their city’s economic woes.
Their visit was sponsored by the Urban Land Institute District Council in association with the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and Second Century Inc., a public-private corporation created to revitalize the city.
The Florida pair explained how their unique public-private partnership of the city council and chamber of commerce works to create development in their 800-square-mile city.
Hulsey said city officials are active participants in the chamber.
Wood said, “This way we don’t sit around and be surprised at what the chamber of commerce does. It’s not them, it’s us.”
Hulsey said a part of this partnership, the Jacksonville Community Council Inc., has produced enormous results.
The council forms a traveling group. After the group identifies a problem, it finds a city which has solved a similar problem and goes there to find out how they did it. Each member pays his or her own expenses, although there are a few chamber “scholarships” available, he said.
Hulsey said the group went to Minneapolis, looked at a restored theater, came home and restored a theater in downtown Jacksonville.
It traveled to San Antonio, came home and developed a river walk.
A trip to Seattle resulted in an automated skyway express.
In Indianapolis, Inc., the group learned about downtown housing and is working on this idea with a downtown church which owns 12 square blocks.
“We went to Japan to see the 10 largest banks in the world to get them to spend some money in Jacksonville and they did,” Hulsey said.
The group also visited mass incineration operations in Japan and Indianapolis.
He said that America must do something about its garbage problems or “We’ll be standing in it up to our necks.”
Jacksonville has started a recycling program which will become mandatory in 18 months.
Wood said his city also has an advantage in that for the past 21 years it has had a combined city-county government. There are 14 wards and five additional council members are elected at large, Wood said.
He said a combined government reduces squabbles between governments and is economical because duplicate departments are eliminated.
Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner Shirley Darrell said later she did not believe combining Oklahoma City-Oklahoma County governments would work.
“We have 16 other cities (in Oklahoma County),” Darrell said.
She said she did not see Edmond wanting to give up its identity for this type of consolidation.
Sometimes things simply don’t work out as one wishes. That was the case the other day with my story on the new Devon construction crane that went up last week. It stands 28 stories high now, but it’s going to end up far taller than anything in the city as the Devon tower superstructure begins to rise in the air. I thought the story about how crane operators must climb up the tower, and how they stay up in the air all day, to be fascinating. Further, I thought the below photos provided by Devon were great as well. Sadly, they didn’t make it into print.
But at least I can share them with you.
Let’s see how well city leaders have kept folks informed about potential convention center sites! Can you name locations cited by a consultant as being viable alternatives to the south of Ford Center site?
It wasn’t too long ago that Randy Hogan was boasting a 100 percent occupancy for Lower Bricktown. Not any more. A few months ago LIT clothing next to Starbucks closed. That space remains empty. Sometime in the past week or two one of Hogan’s oldest tenants, Firefly clothing, closed as well. That leaves Lower Bricktown with a theater, restaurants and clubs. And while the theater was a big win for Bricktown and downtown, the remaining mix wasn’t exactly what city leaders were pursuing when they agreed to the controverial public funding of a Bass Pro Shops to be the anchor for the development eight years ago.
To be fair, retail is getting hit hard everywhere. But in light of where Lower Bricktown is today, should it be considered a success or a disappointment?
The story takes place in New York in a town I’ve never heard of. But the theme should be of interest to everybody. After having robbed downtowns of retail life a half century ago, are some suburban highway retail corridors doomed to go through the same demise?
(Thanks to www.deadmalls.com)
Being an Oklahoma City history enthusiast, I wish I could have met Dean A. McGee. Or Neal Horton. Or George Shirk. Or have gotten the chance to see the I.M. Pei model with my own eyes.
One of those dreams is about to come true.
In the past week I’ve spent extensive beat time or worked on stories in Stockyards City, Paseo, Automobile Alley, MidTown and the Plaza District. (This message is aimed at those who say I spend all my time in Bricktown). With this bit of boating done, please resume your normal blog reading.
With downtown continuing to evolve, it’s important to note there are a lot of newcomers who don’t know all the inside secrets about great housing, restaurants, shops and activities.
So here’s what I’m launching, and no, it’s not one of those advertising-sponsored special sections (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I like to get a paycheck and God bless our friends in advertising for helping make that happen).
So here are the rules: I’ll set up a favorites topic every Thursday. To avoid manipulation by business owners, I will only accept responses and comments provided with a real name attached. The business with the most favorable response will then be featured in the next week’s “favorites” post, along with a new question.
So, here we go… what is your favorite downtown apartments for rent that run below $800 a month?
So is there really going to be an open and unbiased look at where to build the convention center? As I pursue this question, let’s look back at what we were told during the campaign. First up, a video and quote from Mayor Mick Cornett at an Oct. 21, 2009 “Breaking Through” luncheon:
We have a really good site picked out in Core to Shore planning. Put it on the boulevard, right next to the park. We’re going to continue to revisit the site because this is a pretty big decision. I want to make sure we have a strong concensus in the community that this is the best site. But the things to keep in mind is where are the hotels, where is bricktown? Do not get too far away from either of those two entities. I think the current site addresses that adequately. But there are other sites we can consider and we’ll do that on the other side of the vote if it’s successful.
See video below:
Now, after watching this and hearing this, it appears that we have two messages that came out: yeah, the mayor had a favored location, but he was promising it wasn’t a done deal.
In case there’s any confusion over this, let’s look at what was reported in the Oct. 21, 2009 Gazette:
Regarding the convention center’s exact location, Williams said four possible sites are being considered: south of the existing Ford Center, at Producers Cooperative Oil Mill facility, the lumberyard north of that facility or the Deep Deuce area north of Bricktown.
Cornett said the community will have input in public discussions for all potential sites if MAPS 3 is approved.
Will there be a real discussion of where the convention center will be built? And what will that discussion be? Is Mayor Mick Cornett promising the same sort of input that occurred with the MAPS 3 ballot? And if so, what’s your take on what that means?
I’ve spent the past two weeks digging into all the various issues on this story. I’m looking forward to seeing how these stories ensue. Today I begin asking questions of the mayor and key city officials.