Today I have a meeting at 11:30 a.m. in the “dark tower,” so I’ll be doing live chat in the newsroom and cutting it off promptly at 11:15 a.m. You know the routine…. you can begin logging in at the NewsOK business page at 9:30 a.m. with questions and comments. The earlier you post your comments and questions, the earlier they will appear in the chat when it starts at 10 a.m. (I generally take them in order they are posted).
I will not be answering duplicate questions, so if you think I’ve ignored you when the chat is over, go through the transcript and see if I answered it with another poster.
We had an attempt last week by a person harassing other participants. You didn’t see it because I can kill those posts. So to the person who attempted it last week, you are wasting your time.
I have nothing new to report on the “mystery tower” other than what I included in my blog post earlier this week.
A lot has transpired this week – it ought to be a great chat!
“It’s future is as good as gold….” Um, not so fast.
As debate continues over the future of the Gold Dome, I’m digging up videos and information provided by preservationists on why they think the structure is worth saving. Have no doubt, an effort is underway to prevent a repeat of past protests … and while the owner, David Box, has not yet filed for a demolition permit with Urban Design, that does not mean he is promising to keep the structure standing.
Okie Mod Squad has a great history you can read here. Note, the building is listed as one of 100 best buildings in central Oklahoma by the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Architects Newspaper blog, meanwhile, noted after learning about Box’s demolition plan that “Oklahoma City just cannot tear down its architectural landmarks fast enough.”
Oklahoma City has won accolades in recent months from the architectural community with both a cover story on Architectural Record magazine and top honors from the National Architectural Foundation. But will those accolades turn to jeers if two nationally respected properties – Stage Center and the Gold Dome -are torn down in the same year?
There are assumptions being made that because Dr. Irene Lam lost the Gold Dome in foreclosure that it’s a failed property that can’t be saved. Lam is an optometrist. Her heart may have been in the right place, but tenants during her tenure argued she did not know how to manage or develop the property. She had no such experience.
I am hearing interest in the development community in buying the Gold Dome, preserving it and giving it a new life. But whether they can pay the price Box paid remains a question. He is seen as having paid too much for the structure – and the question is out there among critics as to whether he did so assuming he could easily raze the Gold Dome and replace it with a gas station or other commercial use taking advantage of the high traffic count at NW 23 and Classen (he denied having intent to tear it down when he bought it).
Box is now engaging with the preservation community on their Facebook page, and it will be interesting to see if they can provide him with a way forward that keeps the dome intact.
Forgive me in the delay in bringing this to your attention, but if you’ve not seen “Thunder Boom,” OETA’s look at the Thunder’s impact on OKC, I’d encourage you to click the link below and watch it. I really appreciate OETA inviting me to participate in this discussion.
Watch the video by hitting this link: http://www.oeta.tv/video/3279.html
Let’s get this out of the way in advance of Friday’s OKC Central Live Chat: the latest information I have is that we are now looking at up to another 90 days before we learn anything more about the future of the Stage Center property.
This is not the end of the world. It does not mean the deal is in jeopardy. But in a deal this big, lawyers spend a lot of time drawing up documents attending to every detail and possibility, including potential attacks by King Kong and Godzilla.
Due to time and space limitations, I was not able to include comments by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid in today’s story. I delved into some of the concerns he and other expressed in an in-depth story written several weeks ago that you can read here. If you’ve not read it yet, I hope you will now.
I’ve also copied comments he left on my story today as follows:
There are several obstacles to the successful development of our convention center; the development of the convention center hotel is the most pressing.
In a study (which has yet to be released to the public despite calls for its release) prior to the MAPS 3 vote it was made clear that to realize the economic benefits promised to voters, the new $250 million convention center, would have to be accompanied by a 600 room convention center hotel and that no city had been able to develop such a hotel without massive taxpayer subsidies in the previous decade.
The need for such a hotel and the additional massive future taxpayer obligation that the MAPS 3 vote would create was not discussed during the MAPS 3 campaign. In fact, that information was suppressed.
In the three years since the MAPS 3 vote the situation for taxpayers has worsened in cities trying to develop such hotels. The soon to opened 800 room Nashville Omni convention center hotel required a taxpayer subsidy of $128 million plus property tax abatements for 20 years. Nashville councilmembers recently shared with me that they had fear until the end that their subsidy amount would not be enough to get the deal done. Convention center hotels in regional cities like St. Louis and Austin are losing significant amounts of money for taxpayers after their completion.
The City of OKC has not performed any market analysis to indicate what such a convention center hotel would likely cost in the form of taxpayer subsidies.
The City of OKC has NO PLAN for how we would pay for what may be well over $100 million for the development of a hotel along with parking. MAPS3 funds cannot be used to buy the land for a convention center hotel.
Read more in today’s story.
In today’s OKC Central column, I reflect on the possibility that we are witnessing the re-emergence of a 21st century Delmar Gardens along the Oklahoma River.
Look at the above rendering… and consider that everything you see, and more, is funded and will become a reality within the next few years.
Some of the improvements, including an extension of the river inlet through Regatta Park that will stop just short of the Bricktown Canal south terminus, is nearing completion (water began flowing back in through the dam last week).
The following photos were provided by an OKC Central contributor:
The first section of the SandRidge Skytrail, meanwhile, is up and running:
It is not, however, quite done. Consider the full project, which will be built over this next year:
And then consider, also along boathouse row, we will have a whitewater rapids venue built as part of MAPS 3:
It is purely my fantasy, but one I think is worth considering, that the Boathouse Foundation or city buy the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel from the Humphreys family, get architect Rand Elliott to design a great platform for it, and include it as a part of this 21st century Delmar Gardens:
Mayor Mick Cornett received an award on behalf of Oklahoma City over the weekend from the National Architectural Foundation. The above video was shown as part of the presentation.
The last two weeks we’ve seen OKC Central Live Chat go on for two hours. Folks, I love these chats. But I can’t possibly do two hours every Friday. I’m hoping you will help me keep today’s chat a bit shorter by following a few steps.
First: The earlier you log in questions and comments, the better. There is ongoing confusion about the order and frequency of questions and comments that post on the chat. Questions and comments can be posted starting at 9:30 a.m. at the NewsOK Business page, with the chat starting at 10 a.m. If you’re curious why folks like Gary and Nick pop early and often in each chat, it’s because they’re logging in at 9:30 a.m. and getting on the front of the line. Others who log in at 10 a.m. or later will see their questions and comments post with any where from a 10-minute to a half-hour delay.
Sorry. That’s the way this thing works.
I don’t typically censor questions unless they involve personal attacks or are otherwise inappropriate. When the chats go into overtime, I skip questions that were already posted.
And that leads me to a request – please don’t re-post questions unless you are absolutely uncertain that your first attempt was logged in. Again, the later you post, the longer the wait.
Also, while I appreciate the interest in the so called “mystery tower,” please understand, I won’t be breaking this story within a live chat. It’s just not going to happen!
I’m not saying don’t ask questions, but please understand, at this point I have nothing to new to share that I haven’t already provided to readers.
I really appreciate all that you the readers, especially those who contribute regularly to OKC Central, have done to help make these chats a great success. These are great discussions that are being read by thousands of people. You have provided me with great tips, great insight into what interests you, and a shared excitement for what’s ahead for Oklahoma City.
I can’t remember a time when the rusted, ugly “temporary” classrooms didn’t litter the lawn of the otherwise grand, historic Emerson High School at NW 6 and Walker. It’s been a long wait, but they’re finally disappearing, hopefully for good!
Thanks to Jeff Bezdek for taking these photos as work started late last week, and sending them over to be posted here at OKC Central.
In about a year, Emerson will be transformed into a school the kids can be proud of – and thanks to Andrew Rice and Variety Care, the teen-age moms at the school will have the medical clinic they’ve long needed.