Imagine if I had popped a story a few years back that Core to Shore development would be kicked off by the opening of an AMC Theater with an Imax cinema (forget that Harkins is in nearby Lower Bricktown), a Borders Bookstore, a Hard Rock Cafe, a Sega Gameworks, a drugstore, restaurants, ice cream shop, clubs and a hotel. Go back to the master plan for Core to Shore and you’ll see renderings of such high hopes – maybe even with a hint of a Nordstrom’s to boot.
The always wonderful Otis White (@otiswhite on Twitter) this morning shared a link to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about that very sort of mix actually developed in downtown Minneapolis not that long ago. A cursory glimpse of this development shows proximity to an arena and all the grandest planning efforts can’t always stop a dream from turning into a nightmare:
So what can be learned from this experience as Oklahoma City continues its plunge into developing Core to Shore?
Nothing very controversial here from what I can see. The extension of the canal segment from the Oklahoma River would allow it to go under the new I-40 bridge and stop just south of the Bricktown Canal. It appears that the project also adds a pedestrian bridge over the river segment, and creates a series of water features, plazas and landscaping at the northern tip of the river segment to provide a better linkage and view for visitors. This items is up at Board of Adjustment Thursday for a variance on lighting heights.
The Planning Commission was asked for, and it granted a delay until Feb. 23 on consideration of a request for an ABC 2 zoning for the former car dealership at NW 15 and Broadway. To date, despite requests for interviews from the operators of this proposed restaurant/club, I’ve heard nothing other than the comments posted on this site.
There is a fundamental understanding, I suspect, with the operators. If the comments left on this site are any indication, they think by my posting advance notice on this zoning application I am “stirring things up.” Well, here’s the deal: the neighbors are SUPPOSED to know about this project before there is a vote on a change in zoning. They’re supposed to get the right to ASK QUESTIONS, GET THEM ANSWERED, and … get this … VOICE THEIR DISAPPROVAL AND ASK FOR DENIAL OF A ZONING CHANGE if they see it as a threat to their neighborhood.
A developer can take two approaches to such questions; they can meet with residents and answer their questions (not that they’re guaranteed to like such answers) and provide a look at their project though someone like me, or, they can get upset and say efforts to inform the neighborhood about a big restaurant and club opening up next door is “stirring things up.”
I’ve noticed work is already going on inside this building. Maybe they’re assuming approval of their zoning is a slam dunk
Brian Winkeler thinks I blew him off.
And that’s quite understandable. He wrote a great presentation on his blog, even directed my attention to it via Twitter, and me? Sure, I meant to respond. But I wanted to do something more than a link. I had something more ambitious in mind. But I get scatterbrained at times, distracted, and before you know it, too many ideas end up getting lost in between the breaking news stories.
Brian is no stranger to this blog; He very eloquently did a guest blog some months ago about why “Oklahoma City Boulevard” might not have been the best branding attempt for the future boulevard set to replace the current I-40.
I’ve seen Brian around from time to time and I’m an admirer of his work.
Brian has a memorable last name. And when I first began to encounter him in coffee shops, via social media (where he freely challenged me from time to time, often deservedly so!), and seeing his work, it occurred to me that somewhere, somehow, I had seen his name before. He’s made the paper before, sure enough, due to his cartooning and animation work. But something else made me think I had read about him before.
Oklahoman archives then popped up a story that had caught my attention years earlier.
Unemployed look at selves for options
Thousands of unemployed Oklahomans are struggling to find jobs. Many have found that opening their own business is their only option.
By Marcin Skomial
|Saturday, July 26, 2003
Edition: City, Section: NEWS, Page 1-A
Four months ago, Brian Winkeler was wrapping up a multimillion dollar project at an advertising agency. His wife was eight months pregnant, and he had just sold his 10-year-old truck and bought a $30,000 sport utility vehicle.
Then his life took an unexpected turn. He was laid off from Jordan Associates, an Oklahoma City advertising and communications firm, where he worked as an art director.
“It was a shock,” Winkeler said. “We bought a car thinking my wife and I had safe jobs.”
With advertising jobs scarce in the metro area, Winkeler lost hope of finding a job at an agency. He chose to put up $10,000 for a computer, software and other items to open his own advertising agency, Robot House Creative. He runs the business from the living room of his Oklahoma City home.
I read this story. It’s one of those stories that grabbed my attention and stayed lurking in my subconscious. I remember reading it and thinking to myself “oh crap – what if that were to happen to me? What will I do?”
It was a valid question. At the time I was doing some serious contemplation of my own career. I was doing a mix of investigative reporting, Sunday feature stories and still dabbling in city and county government reporting. I could see the newspaper industry was going to change. I figured that in about a decade or so, print would be overtaken by online media and a shaking out was likely to occur with some painful cuts nationwide. I had to adapt – to change – or I’d be forced to make even more painful adaptation and change on my own – in the same situation faced by Brian.
I had the timing wrong; the “earthquake” and painful cuts started a lot sooner than I expected. But I adapted. I changed.
Brian is now a respected, established independent operator in the advertising community. He’s doing great work – on his own terms.
OKC is not NYC
I’m not George Clooney. And Oklahoma City is not New York City. And it’s not LA or Chicago or Dallas or Minneapolis or Portland or Kansas City or anyplace else. For better or worse, OKC will always be OKC. And it’s our obligation, as leaders of the creative culture of OKC, to be champions of the better.
Yes, Brian is talking about our design community, but it really doubles as a general statement about Oklahoma City as a whole. For years we’ve looked elsewhere – to Dallas, to Kansas City, to St. Louis, Denver, Indianapolis – any city we saw as “major league” and worthy of us emulating. I’ve seen this as an ongoing issue for our town for the past two decades. It’s OK to benchmark. But let’s stop and realize it’s OK – no, it’s more than OK – to aspire to be … OKLAHOMA CITY. Yes, let’s aspire to be Oklahoma City. Not the Oklahoma City of our past, not necessarily even of our future – but Oklahoma City in its present, in its best and greatest step forward.
Anyone can write a blog. But some words have more power than others. Brian Winkeler is not the only guy making a living in the creative community, and he’s generous in sharing the limelight in his presentation. He gives a nod to so many others I respect – folks like Philip Baker and the gang at Stapelgun, Matt Goad and his crew at Funnel Design … the list is, quite wonderfully, too much for me to list in its entirety. And having seen these guys progress in their own careers, I appreciate what they’ve pulled off – that they’ve had enough collective “oh crap” moments to last a lifetime. They know what they’re doing. And they’re pretty brilliant.
Somewhere between losing his job, sharing an “oh crap” moment with way too many readers of The Oklahoman, and then working his way up as an independent operator in marketing, advertising and design, Brian has come up with the very sort of insight that is truly a “state of our city.”
Now if only Brian will realize he should have burned that “Right Said Fred” CD long, long ago….
I have friends who are architects. I have friends who are engineers. I have friends who are contractors. I can think of no truer representation of a typical interaction (the ones you’ll never read about otherwise) between an architect and a contractor than in this clip. Warning No. 1: clip contains foul language. Warning No. 2: this clip was referred to me an architect friend who clearly understands SOMETIMES egos can get a little out of whack…
I met with the designer Dave Ledbetter this morning. He’s not ready for a full-fledged story. But he showed me computer animated renderings of the project. The name “Exhale,” he said, is the name of the company doing the project, but won’t be the name of the restaurant/club. Exterior rendering is an old west motif, somewhat of a nod to the original Oklahoma Station. The rendering shows the restaurant’s proposed name is “Broadway Station.” He also said the owners, whom he did not identify, are a Lawton family that did well in ranching and are pursuing their dream of owning and operating a country/western venue.
While Heritage Hills residents have been focused on the pros and cons of The Edge, an apartment complex planned for NW 13 and Walker, another development at NW 15 and Broadway appears to have escaped their notice.
This old car dealership building is up at Planning Commission this Thursday for an ABC (liquor) zoning. From the plans below, it looks like the restaurant/bar, “Exhale,” will be a pretty ambitious remodel:
Finally got to watch the presentation on the successful request for a variance on parking for this development at Thursday’s Board of Adjustment. Questions were asked about what kind of restaurant this would be – and the representative, restaurant and bar consultant David Ledbetter, responded it will be like “Babe’s,” a chicken chain in Dallas, during the daytime, and if I understood his answer right, Saltgrass Steakhouse, another Texas chain, at night.
That sounds like a pretty cool deal, if that’s all it is. But those I’m speaking to say this doesn’t add up. The stages, multiple bars, mezzanine, and even the kitchen size don’t seem to fit with these answers. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated when I get some answers to all this.
FINAL UPDATE: We still don’t know what “Exhale” will be, but I just got off the phone with Dave Ledbetter, a well-respected restaurant consultant who is attached to this project, and his response to questions posted on this item, specifically whether it will be a strip club or hip-hop club, was “heavens no – it will not be a strip club or a hip-hop club.”
I hope to get more information for you on this project later this week.
Two major corporate headquarter projects are transforming downtown – Devon Energy Center and SandRidge Commons. Will Hider, a frequent contributor to OKC Central, has been busy taking photos and videos of both. Here’s his latest work – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
To see all of Will’s latest photos, go here.