It’s no secret that Crescent Market, Oklahoma City’s oldest grocery store, has been courted by various downtown developers hoping to bring it back to its historic roots.
At the same time, the store at 6409 Avondale is finding itself squeezed by a changing neighborhood that now includes a Sunflower Market and soon, the city’s first Whole Foods.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Robert Pemberton, owner of Crescent Market, is planning to close in November. I called him last week, and he said then he was not ready to discuss any potential closing. Not a denial. Not a confirmation. Pretty much a “no comment.”
The rumors continued. My editors kept coming back to me asking what the story is. Some fellow reporters suggested a sign on the store’s entrance confirms the closing (it doesn’t – it only reports all customer charge accounts will be closed on Nov. 1).
Several customers also have reported to The Oklahoman they have been told orders for holiday pies are not being accepted because of the pending closing of the store.
Yep. The pressure was on.
Next up; Linda Cavanaugh, anchor at KFOR, went on Twitter today saying the following: “Just confirmed with city official. Nichols Hills icon — Crescent Market — set to close before Thanksgiving.”
It’s the stuff that good reporters do when they’re unable to get a direct source to say what’s going on. Linda, a veteran reporter and someone I respect, appeared to have the story pegged to a credible source.
But there’s a wrinkle in this development. I called up Pemberton again. This time he adamantly denied he’s closing the store.
“That’s wrong,” Pemberton told me this afternoon. “I am not closing.”
Pemberton added he also has no plans to close his store. He could not explain the rumors surrounding his store’s future.
Crescent Market was originally opened as J.L. Wyatt Grocery on April 22, 1889 — the same day Oklahoma City came into being with the Oklahoma Land Run. It went through two sales before being renamed Crescent Grocery in 1906.
I suspect we’ll hear more on this story in the coming weeks.
It is with much sadness I have to report to you the passing of Mark Carleton, a veteran city employee who worked tirelessly with all of the city’s MAPS programs and was just appointed two weeks ago to oversee MAPS for Kids as his boss, Eric Wenger, was moving into the position of the city’s public works director.
I’m told Carlton, 58, was proceeded by the death of his father just a couple weeks earlier. I first got to know Carleton while covering the original MAPS program in the mid-1990s. He was one half of the duo jokingly referred to as the “two Marks,” the other half being Mark Beck. Together they could conquer any challenge, quietly, efficiently, and with good humor.
Have no doubt, this is a loss for City Hall, downtown, and Oklahoma City as a whole.
Devery Youngblood isn’t a stranger to veteran downtown observers. I first met Devery in the mid-1990s when he was hired to oversee the new Automobile Alley Main Street Program that had been formed to help the area recover from the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Devery brought much needed enthusiasm and new ideas to the area, and was part of the conversation that led to the heroic effort by Meg and Chris Salyer to rebuild the old St. Nicholas Hotel after it had sustained major damage from the bombing and then crumbled in in a multi-alarm fire months later.
Devery later moved to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, where he coined the term “butchering of the steer” to give some understanding as to why the planning and implementation of MAPS was so ugly at the time – and also to encourage residents to keep the faith and wait for the potential steak dinner to follow (a great analogy that proved out right then and still holds up with MAPS 3 today).
Over the years I formed a close friendship with Devery, all the while giving him grief from time to time as I did my job, especially once he took over as the first president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. I saw him struggle with problems with his kids, a failing marriage, both triumphs and failures as a boss at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., and his sometimes perilous struggles with politics. I won’t give details, but his tenure at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. ended, led to a job working with Rep. Ernest Istook, and then to where he is now, working with the Chickasaws.
Devery has managed to build on each failure… and his book is an inspiration on how one can not just survive failure, but use it as a means to substantial self improvement.
I’m still reeling from the news that Cathy Rigby is STILL performing as Peter Pan …
So despite that and other stories getting your interest this week, let’s recap, shall we?
We’re getting a good glimpse of what’s to come downtown, and if it all comes true, then we’re looking an office market far more vibrant than its been the past 30 years.
When you read my coverage in the Sunday Oklahoman about Devon, you’ll learn more than 2,000 people will be moving into Devon Energy Center when it opens in 2012. We also know from today’s coverage that SandRidge Energy is looking at an expansion of its downtown workforce that will bring the total to 2,000 in five years, and that it will be building a second tower equal in size to its current 29-story tower.
Contemplate that for a moment. Also add into this equation that Continental Resources is looking at employing about 750 people by 2014 as it completes its move to Devon’s current headquarters at Broadway and Sheridan. And have no doubt, Continental is growing. Don’t be surprised if that 750 figure is low – very low.
Also remember that construction will be starting this winter on an 11-story Hilton Garden Inn in Bricktown. And of course the city is very intent on getting a conference hotel built in conjunction with the new convention center. Doing quick math and considering the foot print, this hotel will definitely go vertical Let’s assume it’s the same sort of footprint as the Renaissance Hotel. Add more amenities into the mix, and double the room count, and it’s easy to see it going up 20 stories or higher.
Still with me?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the skyline isn’t finished yet. And I expect even more yet to be announced. In the meantime, enjoy this latest time lapse video of Devon Energy Center by OKC Central contributor Will Hider.
Bill Hader and Kevin Durant give props to Oklahoma City (thanks to Blake Jackson for bringing this to our attention)
As I walk through this wicked world searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside, there’s one thing I wanna know: What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?
If you’re not a geek, you can’t understand what this is all about. This is gold. It’s better than gold. And people will get killed in the battle to acquire one of these 1,500 pairs of McFly sneakers. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, will likely need additional protection against kidnapping attempts, crying geeks like myself hugging his ankles begging for help getting a pair of McFlys. It won’t be pretty….
The new Project 180 street lights are going up throughout downtown – so why are they not going up on Film Row, where they are desperately needed?