Developer Randy Hogan unveiled designs today to the Urban Renewal Authority for what is the last major “pad” site in Lower Bricktown – a building that is tentatively set to be home to a restaurant run by the Hal Smith Group in conjunction with Thunder star Kevin Durant.
Unlike other buildings done by Hogan in Lower Bricktown, this one apparently includes no stucco on the facade, just rock and brick. Urban renewal commissioners appeared content with this schematic design, though they’ve yet to approve designs for construction to begin.
All this brings me back to the beginning, when Lower Bricktown was pretty ugly.
To be fair, this site did require a lot of vision. Back in 1997, Urban Renewal commissioners rejected a rival bid submitted by Sooner Development because it envisioned “pad site development” – the very path eventually taken by the winner, Hogan.
So let’s look back at what Hogan proposed that gave his proposal the edge over his rivals:
Things changed. Hogan ultimately built dual level development with only one building – The Centennial, which is a mix of housing, entertainment and restaurants. Hogan’s latest proposal is a one-story building, with no patio build-out to the canal. You can see the pad site in the photo below, located between the Harkins Theater and Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill.
First, some good news from the folks at Project 180:
Oklahoma City has good news for downtown workers – Robinson between Main and Park and Sheridan between Hudson and Robinson will reopen to traffic on Wednesday, April 18.
Traffic will be two-way on Robinson from Sheridan to Park. The portion of Robinson from Park to Kerr will remain one-way so OG&E crews can replace circuits. Once complete, the rest of Robinson will transition to two-way traffic. Sheridan will also open to two-way traffic.
Crews will continue installing landscaping and completing sidewalks along the two streets.
Motorists and pedestrians are advised to be particularly careful as they adjust to the change.
“Remembering to look both ways before crossing Robinson could be a challenge for downtown walkers and cyclists,” said Public Works Director Eric Wenger. “The same goes for motorists when they experience oncoming traffic on Robinson for the first time. Changing decades-long driving and walking habits won’t happen overnight. Motorists and pedestrians need to be vigilant and yield to each other during this time of transition.”
According to Wenger, work is wrapping up on phase four of Project 180, with phase five expected to be complete by the end of this year. Drivers and workers should experience fewer closed streets this fall.
NOW…. FOR THE OTHER PART OF THIS STORY NOT IN THE PRESS RELEASE….
Some OKC Central readers have noticed that the sidewalk on the east side of Robinson between Main and Park Avenue was not being torn up by contractors. They wondered – will the sidewalk still be rebuilt?
The answer, from Shannon Cox, spokeswoman for Project 180, is that engineers decided to leave the sidewalk untouched as it crosses the basements of First National Center and the Oil & Gas Building following expensive delays experienced with sidewalks crossing other basements along Main Street west of Hudson Avenue. This section of sidewalk will NOT be rebuilt.
With money short, this might make sense. But then will the old I.M. Pei globe lights from the early 1970s be left in place amidst the remaining Project 180 upgrades? It seems as if the addition of street furniture and new lighting to match the rest of the street would be a common sense move.
Shannon said she’s uncertain about this question and will get back to us.
Otis White continues to provide some of the best links to stories about urban planning of anyone I follow on the Internet. The latest, “America’s Foolish Detour Into Shopping Malls,” laments what could have been if our country had continued with the model with the still incredible Country Club Plaza in Kansas City instead of the Victor Gruen-style malls that plagued our country for a half century.
Oklahoma City had a similar choice once upon a time. MidTown’s Plaza Court consists of retail and offices wrapped around structured parking. It’s not as ambitious as the Country Club Plaza, but it’s certainly a property that people fought to save decades later. Will anyone fight to save Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City, or Crossroads Mall in south Oklahoma City if they eventually are threatened with a wrecking ball?
The article also mentions the General Motors Futurama film of 1939 – which is an intriguing hint at how Gruen won out over J.C. Nichols in designing the shopping centers of the 20th century.
The quotes “residential, commercial and industrial areas have all been separated for greater convenience…” and “Here is an American city re-planned around a highly developed modern traffic system” and “man continually strives to replace the old with the new” are included in part two:
Ahhhh….. I can hear the urbanists among you gagging. The film reminds me of another grand piece of propaganda – the Tale of Two Cities film created by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority in 1967.
For those who haven’t watched “A Tale of Two Cities,” this is a must-see for anyone hoping to understand our own struggles in balancing suburban and urban development.
Gotta have a sense of humor on a story night like tonight. As I watch this, I can’t help but think “heck yeah, it’s time to bring back the twist.” And it’s going to be brought back, why not here in OKC? Imagine … an arena full of Thunder faithful … at half-time … during the play-offs … all doing the Twist before a national television audience…. if we’re going to be known for twisters, let’s own it!
The item is definitely on the Urban Renewal Authority agenda for next Wednesday. As I reported last week (in a story that has since been blatantly ripped off by some local TV stations), Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is set to open a restaurant that will be owned and operated by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which also operates Charleston’s, Louies, Ted’s Escandido, and yes, Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill, which is next to the proposed site for the Durant restaurant.
I can now share that I’m being told the restaurant will feature southern comfort food and steaks, and the price point will be higher than what’s found at Toby Keith’s, but lower than Mickey Mantle Steakhouse a little further north up the Bricktown Canal.
The following notice is being provided by the city. Note: I’m told the designs being presented will suggest cutting two classrooms from the scope.
The final MAPS for Kids community meeting for Emerson Alternative School will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10. The meeting will take place in the school’s auditorium, 715 North Walker Avenue, and will cover the final design presentation for the school.
During the meeting, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, community members and school administrators can provide input and share their ideas for the school’s upcoming renovations.
Emerson, established in 1894, will receive over $5.1 million in facility improvements from MAPS for Kids funds.
Funding for the nearly $700 million MAPS for Kids program comes from two voter-approved sources: a seven-year penny sales tax which ended on Dec. 31, 2008 and an Oklahoma City Public Schools bond issue. Once completed, every student in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district will attend a new or fully renovated school.
Those needing a sign language interpreter, language interpreter or disability assistance can call 297-2578 at least 48 hours before the meeting.
This meeting is being coordinated by The Small Group Architecture and the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Public Schools (OCMAPS) Trust Project Office. For more information, contact the OCMAPS Office at 297-3461 or visit www.okc.gov/ocmaps.
OK, so the suggestion by Sen. Greg Treat that the city somehow be made responsible for finishing the American Indian Cultural Center is not going over well with OKC Central readers. This does not surprise me. But here’s the rub; more than $60 million in taxpayer money (both state and city) has already been spent on construction. I don’t think that it’s difficult to see that at some point along the way with this project, it suffered from inadequate oversight, inappropriate scope and bad planning (if it didn’t, wouldn’t it have been fully built and paid for by now?). So that said, with state and city money at risk here, let’s revisit the question asked by Scott Mitchell: who will be the adult in the room? Is it responsible to simply yell out “heck no, let it rot!” Is it the adult thing to say “these people have screwed this up, let them fix it” if it turns out the “these people” happen to be a state legislature and city council WE elected, and yet they didn’t bother to delve into the details of this project until it was going over a cliff? What if “these people” happen to be us?
That seems to be the hint dropped toward the end of this interview between my good friend Scott Mitchell and State Senator Greg Treat. Note: It is my understanding that during the behind-the-scenes planning for MAPS 3, there was an unsuccessful effort to add the museum to the list of projects. And because the ballot was written very loosely, yes, it could still be funded through MAPS 3 if the city council chose to realign the project budgets. But will the city want to simply double up its investment without control over construction and spending?