Construction is set to begin next month on The Edge, perhaps the most ambitious downtown housing project to date in terms of scale, amenities and finish. This video can only be seen online right now via NewsOK.
Urban Renewal board members objected to the building’s orientation being focused on surface parking to the south instead of the Bricktown Canal to the north. They objected to the idea that a nine-foot-wide alley between 17-foot walls of the new building and Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill would be the only pedestrian access in the area to the canal. They objected to the lack of interaction between the building, it’s limited patio, and the waterway.
Randy Hogan and Jason Wint say they don’t know how to design this building differently. They say their priority is to cater to the interests of the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which they claimed was that customer access be from the parking lot. They say they do not know how to create a site that interacts more with the canal. They say they can’t build a two-story or higher building due to parking constraints in the area. Hogan believes the rendering above is an “outstanding” design – and resisted suggestions that it can be improved upon or made to be more focused on the canal rather than the parking lot.
I know there are many talented architects, designers and students out there who care about our city, and want to see our downtown become something special.
I’ve seen some of you lend your talents to enhancing the public discussion in the past on topics ranging from the downtown boulevard to Stage Center.
So here’s my request: come up with an alternative concept and rendering for Randy that allows for a 10,000-square-foot building (or more if you can show how this works in his interest) with space for two restaurants on the site between Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill and Earl’s Rib Palace along the canal. I’ll post them on OKC Central, and I’ll ask readers to vote on which concept and rendering they like the best. Maybe then I’ll post the winner in a future column in the business section so that it can be shared with Randy Hogan and the Urban Renewal board.
Let’s try to get something going this next week so your ideas can be considered before the next Urban Renewal meeting.
Yes. I will be mocking the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. So will dozens of other people as we gather at the prestigious Oklahoma City Museum of Art. President Roy Williams and Chairman Carl Edwards, however, will be spared the cutting edge of the jokes in what will be the second presentation of the Movie Clubbed guys this Saturday at 8 p.m.
For those who didn’t attend the last Movie Clubbed (which filled up quick), read this post about how some local wits did their own take on Mystery Science 3000 with a screening of “Zardoz” earlier this year. This weekend’s one-night only Movie Clubbed will begin with the 1970s classic Oklahoma City propaganda film “Growing with Pride.” Then, well, it’s time for “Skatetown U.S.A.” Here’s the promo from the art museum:
For their second go-round of live movie mockery, the five members of The Movie Clubbed will take you to Dante’s little-known 10th circle of Hell: a destination called Skatetown, U.S.A. Released to an ill-prepared public in 1979, Skatetown, U.S.A. was sold as “The Rock and Roller Disco Movie of the Year,” because competition was just that fierce, America. It stars Scott Baio, Patrick Swayze, Flip Wilson, Ruth Buzzi, Billy Barty, Marcia from The Brady Bunch, one Landers sister, one dead Playboy Playmate, The Unknown Comic and much feathered hair. What’s it about? Well, see, there’s this disco wizard and he … well, we’re still trying to figure it out, and we’ve seen it more times than you have fingers. Ostensibly, it’s a comedy, although we have yet to find a joke. But rest assured, The Movie Clubbed will come prepared with their own. Skate ya later!
The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is set to consider final approval of plans for a one-story building in Lower Bricktown that will be nestled between the Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill and Earl’s Rib Palace. The building is to house a restaurant associated with Thunder star Kevin Durant and owned and operated by the Hal Smith Group, which own’s Louie’s and Charleston’s restaurants.
Keep in mind, the building is smaller than what was previously proposed as recently as a few years ago.
What I’m looking at today, however, is how the Lower Bricktown development, now 15 years in the making, compares to what was originally pitched by developer Randy Hogan in 1997.
In the meantime, I want to hear what you think about this latest design:
HARRISON-WALNUT: . . . Out of the Ashes
By Jan Paschal
Sunday, September 12, 1982
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS
Someone is burning parts of it down fast, but planners and concerned citizens hope they can rebuild Harrison-Walnut even faster.
And if things go well, more than $30 million worth of private investment will be pumped into northeast Oklahoma City’s Harrison-Walnut area in 1983-1984.
“Basically, we’re talking about Lincoln from NE 4 to NE 13,” said David Bisbee, executive director of the Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Corp. “We’re going to start along Lincoln Boulevard, the strongest part of the area, and work our way in.”
That nine-block stretch along Lincoln is the site of most of the Phase I projects outlined in seven proposals submitted Sept. 3 to the Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Corp., Bisbee said. If all Phase I projects are approved by the redevelopment corporation’s board of directors and the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, the construction could result in at least $30 million in private investment in the area, Bisbee said.
A medical/professional office building, a restaurant, commercial office buildings (ranging from two to six stories), apartments, townhouses and an office supply company are among the projects proposed by the seven developers.
The seven proposals will be scrutinized for compatibility with the overall Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Plan, which will be considered on Sept. 23 by the OKlahoma City Planning Commission. In October, the redevelopment plan will go before the Oklahoma City Council for final approval.
In March 1981, the City Council approved the expenditure of $155,000 to hire American City Corp. of Columbia, Md., to come up with an overall redevelopment plan for 120 blocks on both sides of Lincoln; the prime redevelopment area is the 60-square-block area west of Lincoln.
The redevelopment corporation is a private, non-profit entity set up in September 1980 to coordinate the rebuilding of that area, which includes some of northeast Oklahoma City’s worst slums. The area will be divided by the Central Expressway, which will eat up about 20 blocks in the prime redevelopment area. Redevelopment of the remaining 40 blocks will be half residential and half commercial or office buildings, Bisbee said.
The recent rash of fires in the near-downtown blocks of NE 4 to NE 6 have not affected the plans for redevelopment, Bisbee said.
“Developers will be buying mostly vacant land. But people are scared their property will be burned down before it can be acquired,” Bisbee said. “Any area that has a large number of vacant buildings is a natural target for people who want to set fires.”
The Urban Renewal Authority, which will acquire the land for the redevelopment corporation, and the state Department of Transportation will pay displaced residents a relocation fee plus fair market value for their homes to enable them to find comparable housing.
“There is some advantage to having your property acquired by a public entity rather than a private entity because a public entity must pay you relocation benefits,” Bisbee said.
The redevelopment corporation was created as a result of a 1980 mitigation plan that settled a 1978 civil rights complaint filed against the federal and state Transportation Departments by black residents who were slated to be displaced by the Central Expressway.
About 500 area residents will be relocated as part of the redevelopment process, in addition to 650 people who will be displaced because their homes lie in the path of the Central Expressway.
“There are about 30 to 40 vacant lots in the area. Sixty to 70 percent are owned by absentee owners. A good share of the existing housing is in very poor condition, especially west of Lincoln,” Bisbee said.
Why would a private investor want to build in this area?
“Lincoln is a great selling point,” Bisbee said. “It’s one of the most attractively landscaped streets in the city and it’s part of a state park. It’s the entrance to the state Capitol complex and to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.”
The area also has what developers and city planners call “good market potential.” About 55,000 people work in or near the area, which is adjacent to the city’s central business district downtown. The overall redevelopment plan, which covers at least 10 years of development, calls for a major hotel, a commercial/retail center and 702 units of new housing to be built in the area.
The seven proposals submitted to the Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Corp. were responses to ads that ran in July issues of The Wall Street Journal; Black Enterprise, a business magazine published in New York City; Guffey’s Journal, and the Journal-Record.
The developers behind those seven proposals are: Park Place Associates, Chicago; Renaissance Developers, Inc., Oklahoma City; Lincoln Property Co., Tulsa; Royal Office Products, Oklahoma City; ESB Associates, Oklahoma City; Presbyterian Hospital, Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma affiliate of the American Heart Association.
“We’re pleased, really pleased, to get responses from seven developers, especially since these proposals are basically compatible with one another,” Bisbee said.
Three of the seven proposals are from businesses that are owned or managed by blacks, Bisbee said.
“We’ve got a good mix. The proposals that we’ve received show that this has been an open project all along,” Bisbee said.
As recently as 1980, some leaders of the black community had expressed fears that the ambitious revitalization plans for the Harrison-Walnut area were going to benefit wealthy white developers at the expense of black businessmen.
However, a safeguard against that is the fact that 10 of the 12 members of the Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Corp. board of directors are black people, all lifelong residents of the area like Julia Brown, lawyer and board chairman, Artelia Crawford, and other leaders of the fight to get some compensation from the federal government for those people whose homes would be razed to make way for the Central Expressway.
“That’s the wonderful thing about this whole project . . . the continuity . . . you’ve got to really hand it to these people who have stuck it out for a number of years,” Bisbee said.
If the redevelopment plan is approved, land acquisition could begin in late fall or early 1983, Bisbee said. Land probably would not be sold to any developers until June 1983 with construction on some projects beginning by 1984.
The Urban Renewal Authority will acquire the land targeted for redevelopment because it has the power of eminent domain, Bisbee said.
“We don’t own any land,” Bisbee said. “The redevelopment corporation won’t buy any land until we have a commitment, perhaps even “earnest money,’ from an individual developer for a certain property for a specific project. That is unlike urban renewal projects in other cities, where huge tracts of land were acquired and then stood vacant for years, waiting for developers.”
The Harrison-Walnut Redevelopment Corp. will buy the land, which will be resold at “fair market value” to developers.
“With our budget, we can’t afford much of a write-down,” Bisbee said, when asked whether developers were being enticed to the area by bargain land costs.
Developers will be responsible for getting their own financing, either through tax-free bonds, conventional mortgages or other means, said Bisbee.
The redevelopment corporation, funded this year by $1.18 million in federal Community Redevelopment Block Grant funds, will spend most of that money to buy land acquired by the Urban Renewal Authority, which has the power of eminent domain in the area.
“With each block priced at $300,000 to $500,000, that money won’t go very far,” Bisbee said. “Our entire budget is enough to purchase about two city blocks.”
Another $5 million might become available to the redevelopment corporation for land acquisition if the Community Development Citizens Committee approves a proposal on Sept. 23 for Urban Renewal Authority notes that would be backed by Sec. 108 loan guarantees by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Bisbee also met last Thursday with executives of a major local bank, whose name he would not disclose, to present details of the redevelopment plan.
“The financial community is interested in seeing this area redeveloped,” Bisbee said. “The fact that it will be developed as an entity makes it attractive.”
HARRISON-WALNUT: A Neighborhood Aflame
By Kim Stott
Sunday, September 12, 1982
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS
The scars of neglect and deterioration represent a stark turnaround from the well-kept homes that once lined the streets of the inner-city Harrison-Walnut neighborhood.
Some of the houses are still there, but many are vacant. Those that remain bear the marks of vandals, who have adorned them with graffiti and have smashed their windows.
Other neighborhood lots are overgrown with weeds. Houses and businesses that once stood there have been razed to make way for the proposed Central Expressway. The highway eventually will bisect the neighborhood and will force the relocation of some residents.
Those who have stayed in the neighborhood wait with uncertainty to see what the highway will bring. There are some, living in the highway’s right-of-way, who still wait for the Department of Transportation to buy their property and relocate them, Gary Royal, president of the neighborhood association, says.
And while they wait, they are threatened by a problem that could jeopardize their property values and their lives. Its scars are the burned shells of the neighborhood’s once-proud buildings.
Fires set by arsonists have broken out in at least nine occupied and unoccupied buildings since January, the Oklahoma City Fire Department says.
The most recent was Monday, when a three-alarm fire destroyed the Hotel Youngblood at 325 NE 4. The hotel, abandoned about two years ago, was scheduled for demolition to make way for the highway.
Firefighters think the blaze was deliberately set because it began in several places at once, fire department spokesman Phil Cooksey said.
“It worries us to death,” said Floyd T. Henderson, a Harrison-Walnut resident who lives at 307 NE 3. Firefighters were working on a fire next door to his house when they were called to the Youngblood Hotel, he said.
“It’s been so dry this summer. You just worry about these old frame houses one them catches fire and pretty soon they’re all gone. We’re almost afraid to go to sleep at night,” Henderson said.
Maj. Mark Keim, head of the fire investigation unit, said he is troubled by the number of fires in the area of the neighborhood roughly bounded by NE 2, NE 13, Broadway and Phillips.
“This number is a real problem,” Keim said. “Tulsa had a similar problem” with arson fires when the city redeveloped its downtown area.
But, he added, “They’re plagued there (in Harrison-Walnut), of course, like anywhere in the nation where buildings are being condemned.”
Five of the nine deliberately set fires have been in a few blocks on NE 4, NE 5 and NE 6.
Royal, president of the Harrison-Walnut Neighborhood Association, said residents have called him because they are concerned about the fires.
“They represent some threat to the health, safety and welfare of people in the neighborhood,” he said.
“There is some speculation (about the causes of the fires), but we can’t put our hands on anything until the fire department” completes its investigations.
Olivia Buckner, of 307 NE 4, lives close enough to the Hotel Youngblood that sparks from the Monday fire flew into her yard.
“It’s very dangerous,” she said of the area. “The same thing could happen to my house.”
And Josephine Rogers, who lives at 507 NE 5, said, “This is a whole neighborhood of empty houses. If somebody comes along and sets one house on fire, pretty soon the whole neighborhood’s on fire . . . We are all worried about it.”
Keim, of the fire department, agrees that fires in the older neighborhood could be dangerous. Most of the houses are wooden frame and are in poor shape.
“This fire is the type of fire that can consume an entire city block,” he said.
But, he pointed out, the problem of deliberately set fires in the Harrison-Walnut area should be temporary. Some houses will be torn down for the expressway, and redevelopment is planned in the area, he said.
Until then, though, the fire department is concentrating on solving the arson fires, Keim said.
“We do solve them,” he stressed. Five people have been arrested in connection with arson fires this year in the area, and charges have been filed against three of them, he said.
Royal said he hopes the high number of arson fires will prompt the state transportation department to move quickly to acquire property in the expressway’s right-of-way before more damage is done.
The proposed six-lane Central Expressway will link the Broadway Extension with the I-35/I-40 interchange, with its southern sector cutting a diagonal path through the Harrison-Walnut neighborhood.
The highway will cross Walnut at NE 8, Harrison between NE 7 and NE 6, Stiles at NE 4 and Lincoln Blvd. between NE 2 and NE 1.
Transportation department official Howard Armstrong, who helps relocate Harrison-Walnut residents, says the department is concerned about the fires because they could affect the price a right-of-way property owner might receive.
“It’s a detriment to property owners,” he said. “We would much prefer to buy a house totally intact with people still living in it. We would hate to see a property owner lose money (because of a fire).”
Armstrong said he expects the acquisition of houses in the southern sector to pick up because most buildings in the northern sector, roughly from NW 23 to NW 36, have been purchased. Contracts are scheduled to be let early next year for the northern sector of the highway, he said.
With most of the northern-sector property taken care of, the Harrison-Walnut residents “should see a much higher level of progress” from the transportation department, he said.
However, he pointed out, several months elapse from the time the department acquires a building to the time it is demolished.
“People have been sticking it out in this neighborhood for a long time waiting for the transportation department to come through and acquire the property,” Royal said.
“We’re getting down to the final lap. It just takes a little more patience . . You have to look past what you see now,” he said of the neighborhood’s state of decline.
Added Armstrong: “From the decay, I guess, will rise the growth of the northeast part.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the “Neighborhood Lounge” was just part of the dismal blight along NW 4 that surrounded the jail. A couple blocks away, along NW 7 at Shartel, was where you could see hookers and drug dealers out on the street doing business. The “lounge” itself was surrounded by ugly flop houses.
Slowly but sure, the area has been making a comeback. NW 7 has become a hot spot for architects building modern homes. Rick Dowell has developed the area further east along NW 4 at Walker. The new 911 center was built across the street. And the flop houses disappeared. In recent months I’ve been amused to see the Neighborhood Lounge attracting downtown’s young professionals. Now the owner of the lounge is adding an outdoor patio. Yes. I’ve seen everything now…
Renderings for the new Main Street Parking Garage were posted online todayby the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, and what they reveal is a significant change to the skyline and urban street walls leading up to City Hall and Devon Energy Center. The garage will be built on surface parking lots now owned by Urban Renewal and the Hightower Building. Plans call for retail on the first floor, and potential housing on the top three stories.
A lot of Kevin Durant fans were excited when I was the first to get official confirmation earlier this year that the Thunder star was preparing to open a restaurant in Lower Bricktown. At the time Durant confirmed the project, he suggested construction would start in late April. But then weeks, and months, followed with no hints of any new activity on the project.
Over the summer I began hearing from Bricktown interests who reported the Hal Smith Group, which will own the eatery, was shopping for a new location. And then, nothing. The Hal Smith Group has never returned a single call I’ve ever made to them during my entire career, and this story has proven to be no exception.
But after doing some digging and a helpful call I received this morning, I can provide an update that the restaurant is moving ahead – and that the wait shouldn’t go on much longer. At this point I have no information as to whether Doc Brown will make the grand opening…. city code is a bit murky on the parking of Delorean DMC-12s on rooftops.