I’m sensing Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid is the kind of guy who won’t be denied an opportunity to speak his mind on an issue. And if the Oklahoma City Council thought that by refusing to defer a discussion and vote on MAPS 3 and the convention center last week (his flight back to OKC got delayed), they were going to shut him up, they’re probably reconsidering that today.
Shadid took out a two-page advertisement in the Oklahoma Gazette today on the convention center. Read it for yourself.
Is Shawnee, with a population of just under 30,000, a “larger city”?
I think the world of Oklahoma Watch, the non-profit news venture that partners up with The Oklahoman, Tulsa World and other news outlets around the state on in-depth public interest stories.
A story in today’s Oklahoman, which isn’t online (UPDATE: read it here), about a task force led by Rep. David Dank examining whether to cut back or eliminate historic tax credits takes an assumption by Dank and treats it as fact: that these tax credits primarily benefit larger cities like Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
To those of you associated with Main Street programs around the state, to those of you in the preservation community, I’d advise this is something you’ll want to watch carefully.
A few back I was lucky enough to get to travel around the state, visiting with Main Street business owners from Poteau to Miami to Stillwater. I personally saw examples of treasured, yet neglected Main Street properties brought back to life with the help of these tax credits. If these credits are limited to the major cities, then please explain that definition as it applies to Shawnee (where tax credits helped on renovating the Aldridge Hotel) and in Muskogee (the Surety Apartments).
Maybe these tax credits are good, maybe they’re bad. But a look at the facts will show these tax credits have been used quite a bit in small town Oklahoma.
It’s hot outside. Television is a wasteland taken over the Kardashians and Truumps of the world. Sit back and instead enjoy this incredible film produced by William Hider showing Bricktown of yesterday and today. I promise, it’s one great video and one the Bricktown Association might want to add as a permanent addition to their website.
Wow. Great photo by William Hider. Will, consider yourself part of the OKC Central contributors team!
Can’t say I didn’t see this coming…
An interesting conversation is taking place over at www.okctalk.com about America’s Pub in Bricktown. I wonder if anyone in Bricktown is aware of this discussion, or what it could mean to the district if this situation is true and blows up.
Temperatures in the high 90s. It’s humid. The Myriad Gardens aren’t done yet. Sheridan Avenue is still closed, Devon Energy Center is still very much a construction zone.
And yet the Myriad Gardens, usually desolate before the Project 180 makeover, is being used exactly as intended. I strolled the gardens tonight. I saw a young couple lying in the great lawn; I saw a gentleman on a bench reading a book. I saw families strolling along the pond. I saw joggers, I saw people walking their dogs. I saw Shakespeare in the Park rehearsing on the water stage. I saw … Oklahoma City coming to life.
I only wish I had my camera. But sometimes a camera phone will have to do…
William Hider has a new video of Devon Energy Center and downtown that is even more stunning than the first. I love the activity captured along the Oklahoma River.
I don’t get to do a column on Tuesday because of the lack of a business section with Monday being a holiday. But if I did have a column that day, I’d say this: Mark this day on your calendar; it’s a historic one for downtown Oklahoma City.
Yep, the city council is set to decide, once and for all, the location of the downtown elementary school. Expect an easy approval of the decision previously made by the Oklahoma City School Board and MAPS for Kids trust to build the school at Sheridan and Walker Avenues, across from Stage Center.
Will a separate decision to approve a recommendation by the MAPS 3 citizens review board to build the new convention center south of the Myriad Gardens be just as easy? Despite the best of efforts by Mayor Mick Cornett the past few years to lock in a different site south of the Oklahoma City Arena, don’t be surprised if the “Core to Shore North” site sticks.
Here’s what consultant Populous has to say about the site:
In our opinion, this site succeeds on several levels. With a prominent civic address on the future Boulevard and an enviable orientation to the newly revitalized Myriad Gardens park and future Central Park, Core to Shore North is ideally positioned to enhance the convention center’s and Oklahoma City’s brand as a great business destination.
This site has excellent linkages to the City’s arena and strong connections to existing hotels, as well as to Bricktown’s dining and entertainment establishments. Hotel development possibilities on-site and on adjacent parcels present many attractive options. Until the current Cox Center site is redeveloped, its current meeting and arena facilities can augment the new convention center’s rentable space.
The Cox site also provides hotel development potential directly adjacent to Core to Shore North. Areas west of this site including the Film Row redevelopment will benefit from the added visitor activity. Another important factor influencing our decision is the on-going implementation of Project 180, a transformative streetscape enhancement project that will significantly improve the pedestrian environment throughout this portion of downtown.
In summary, we believe that the Core to Shore North site provides the best opportunity to create not only a vibrant new convention center but to help strengthen the existing downtown environment.
So will there be any fireworks at all?
Oh yes, my friends, the schedule for all the MAPS 3 projects will be up for a vote as well. And as we all know, this is where the butchering of the steer has gotten a bit messy. Get ready to trash the clothes you’re wearing if you’re too close to this action.
Two options are up for consideration. Let’s get down to the marquee events – the streetcar system, Core to Shore park and the convention center.
Under option one, the first phase of the street car system, which would include a hub and at least a starting route, would be finished by early 2017.
The Core to Shore park heavily promoted by Mayor Mick Cornett would be finished to coincide with his expectation of a new adjoining boulevard opening in 2014. Sort of at least. If I understand everything correctly, this will be bare bones sort of park, nothing much more than green space for the first phase, with later, more elaborate phases to be done a few years later.
The convention center meanwhile, would open by early 2019. Sure, that may seem a long time away for some of you, especially those of you who were in elementary school when the first MAPS started. For me… well, I’ll be shocked if any of these relatively “quick” schedules hold.
Of course all that assumes the council goes for the option one recommended by the MAPS 3 citizens review board. And as indicated last month, they might not.
So what’s up with option two?
Under this option, Mayor Mick gets his full park by 2014, with only a segment for south of the new Interstate 40 delayed a few years later. The convention center opening is delayed to late 2019. And the transit system, from what I can tell, remains on the same track as in option one. At this point Steve Lackmeyer makes no comment about what various political forces might be pitted against each other, and how he’ll be happy to be munching on some popcorn while watching the replay Tuesday night, relieved that the very talented Michael Kimball has taken over as city hall reporter (don’t worry boys and girls, I’m still on the downtown beat).
UPDATE: OPTION ONE PASSED…. JUST AS CRAZY AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE…