Look for something big – and complicated – to ensue when the following people are found gathering in one room: Assistant City Manager Cathy O’Connor, the city’s economic development coordinator Brent Bryant, City Attorney Kenny Jordan and private attorneys Dan Batchelor, Leslie Batchelor and John Michael Williams.
Along with Urban Renewal director JoeVan Bullard and assistant city attorney Dan Brummit, they were the dream team that put together the complicated financing package for the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, and many of the same names were involved with bringing Dell Computers to town, finding a way to finance the Native American Cultural Center, and almost certainly ongoing work in Core to Shore.
Keep all this mind as I quote from today’s story about the impact of the new Devon Tower on downtown’s tax increment financing district:
O’Connor sees no shortage of takers for any increase in TIF funding — and she said she strongly believes Devon’s project will be followed by more high-rises in the immediate neighborhood.
“There is an element of spin-off here,” O’Connor said.
Well now, isn’t that interesting? Now, let’s put this together with what I’ve written previously about veteran developer Nicholas Preftakes:
Main Street land could be landlord’s development ticket
By Steve Lackmeyer
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 1B
Over the past few months, Ed Strawn has noticed a steady stream of surveyors outside his downtown landmark cafeteria, the Lunch Box. He assumes they are working for Nicholas Preftakes, who has spent the past two years buying up surrounding properties, and most recently spent $750,000 to add to his collection the one-story building that has been home to the Lunch Box since 1947.
“He doesn’t want us to close,” said Strawn, whose restaurant dates to World War I when it first opened near Sheridan and Broadway. “He told me he won’t be the one to close us down.”
But Strawn reports Preftakes did hint that the Lunch Box could be relocated when his three-year lease expires.
Preftakes’ purchase of the Lunch Box building is fueling rumors that his plans include more than being a landlord over the diverse block bordered by Hudson, Walker, Sheridan and Main.
To date, Preftakes has spent more than $12 million on the block. Only five properties on the block are not under his control. They include 420 W Main, a 10-story office building and surface parking owned by the city, the Union Bus Station at Sheridan and Walker, Pizza Town, 430 W Main and Coney Island, 428, W Main.
Preftakes has declined to discuss his purchases on the block, continuing his silence about any long-term plans. When he bought the Auto Hotel at 17 N Hudson, he ended the contract with Republic Parking and closed it down. Anita Sanders’ law firm immediately left a building they remodeled at 408 W Main after it was bought by Preftakes.
But at One N Hudson, the former Black Hotel, Preftakes has continued to lease the property, most recently adding a restaurant on the ground floor.
So what gives? With Preftakes not talking, all eyes turn to Devon Energy Corp., which is pursuing plans to build a skyscraper across the street from the properties Preftakes owns.
Devon’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Nichols said he doesn’t comment on work involving other developers.
And he has dismissed rumors that Devon was interested in seeing the properties west of Hudson Avenue razed to make way for parking.
Nichols said Devon is only focused on expanding the City Center garage and dedicating it to parking for that company’s work force.
Preftakes is one of downtown’s veteran developers, and is no stranger to new commercial development or redevelopment of old urban properties. He started the downtown living trend with renovation of an old automobile dealership into lofts at NW 13 and Broadway some 13 years ago.
He also took the worn-out former headquarters of C.R. Anthony’s and turned it into a modern office building at 701 N Broadway building.
Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., admits he, too, is clueless about Preftakes’ ultimate plan. But he predicted future development could include housing, retail, offices or a hotel.
I’m having some pretty interesting conversations with people in the know today. They’re saying yesterday’s Devon tower unveiling makes it more and more likely we will see more high-rises announced nearby.
But where? Who? When?
Check out Wednesday’s Oklahoman, and you’ll have a head start on the big presentation…..
Once upon a time, my job consisted of reporting on a breaking story, assembling all the information together, and then writing a story for the next day’s newspaper. We all know the world has changed since then, and I’m very happy to report to you that I fully intend to have Devon Tower designs posted at www.okccentral.com as soon as I can move them from a disc to this blog. That means, my friends, that if you’re at work tomorrow morning, be sure to check in at www.okccentral.com between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
I’ll have my laptop powered up, the wireless card connected, and hopefully, we’ll all have some fun finding out what the downtown Oklahoma City skyline might look like in five years.
Here’s a hint: it won’t be “traditional.”
Devon Energy will release plans for its new skyscraper on Wednesday. So how tall will it be? This poll will continue through Tuesday night. For bragging rights, feel free to post a comment below the poll on your prediction.
The new signs say it all: Hobby’s Hoagies. Nothing beats a franchise sub-shop than a top-notch local. The folks at Legacy at Arts Quarter are in for a treat.
Hobby’s Hoagies: the best sandwiches in Oklahoma City
by Greg | July 3, 2008
“This ain’t Subway.”
That is what I heard George Hobson, owner of Hobby’s Hoagies, tell a customer more than a decade ago. There’s no production line at Hobby’s. You can ask for something to be left off, but if you don’t say anything, they’ll make it the same way they always do — delicious.
I’ve had the pizza at Hobby’s. I’ve had the spaghetti. But if you’re going to Hobby’s Hoagies, do yourself a favor and get a sandwich, because it’s one of the best you’ll ever have.
Most sandwiches come in two sizes at Hobby’s — 7-inch or footlong — and they all come with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, oils, spices and Hobby’s special hoagie peppers on a homemade Italian roll.
That pillowy bread is a big part of the appeal. Unlike some of the stale rolls you’ll get at other sandwich shops, Hobby’s rolls are soft and satisfying, soaking up the oils and flavors of the sandwiches.
Well, what do you know, news still happens if I take a couple of vacation days. Jack Money has an article now at www.newsok.com detailing Devon Energy’s purchase of the Colcord Hotel.
And of course, the online community is just buzzing about this purchase and wondering about the implications. I don’t have all the answers, but….
It’s ridiculous to suggest Larry Nichols might want to tear down the hotel and replace it with parking. But if you’re looking for the negative angle on every story, go ahead and keep on talking about it anyway. Truth is, from the moment Devon announced its plans to build a new tower, one had to wonder about how the Colcord might survive the loss of its surface parking lot. The city-owned old Galleria parking deck is part of the site that is expected to be awarded to Devon by the Urban Renewal Authority later this month.
Devon, of course, wouldn’t mind having an upscale hotel next door to its new tower. And imagine the possibilities for both Devon and the Colcord if the tower development were to incorporate the hotel, instead of having architects and planners trying to work around the 98-year-old landmark.
Yes, it really could be that visionary – and that simple. While I’m not on this story, past discussions with Larry Nichols and other leading corporate leaders in this community are revealing. Look at Kerr-McGee in its final days as being the old way of corporate campus development: self contained, no interaction with the surrounding neighborhood, totally self-sufficient. The new way is to look at how to interact with the surrounding community, to not just benefit from the nearby amenities, but maybe even help enhance them.
Larry Nichols has previously indicated he wants to do just that with the Myriad Gardens. Is there any reason to doubt him when he says he has the same intent with the Colcord?
Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley says the latest exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is yet another step forward in Oklahoma City’s journey toward major league city status. Watch his commentary and then consider this once more … Indianapolis, Seattle, Oklahoma City. That’s it. Those are the only stops for this tour of Roman art from the Louvre.
Put this one up on billboards. Send it out on You Tube. Blog it. And make sure every one of those those travel writers coming into town next week see every inch of the museum.
Sure, everybody is excited about seeing the NBA make Oklahoma City a permanent home. But without seeming like the “yes guy” responding to the boss, it’s hard to argue with Mr. Kelley on just how significant this exhibit is for downtown and Oklahoma City.
It used to be a weekend like this would be a big deal … but now, it’s just part of the mix. Don’t say there’s nothing to do downtown this weekend:
Red Earth Festival Kicks off with Friday Parade
When the 22nd annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival opens at the Cox Convention Center Friday June 6, 2008 in downtown Oklahoma City, OK, more than 1200 American Indian artists and dancers from throughout North America will gather to celebrate the richness and diversity of their heritage with the world. For three exciting days Oklahoma City will be at the center of Native American art and culture in America.
Through the years Red Earth has matured into one of the most respected visual and performing arts event of its type – setting the standard for many of today’s Indian art shows held throughout the nation. At Red Earth, guests can sample the work of some of the nation’s most celebrated artists, with opportunities to purchase contemporary and traditional examples of beadwork, basketry, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings, graphics and cultural attire during the juried art show and market.
The dance competition at Red Earth is one of the rare occasions when dancers from America’s Northern and Southern tribes can be seen together in one venue. Red Earth dancers represent the elite of Native American dance, some of the most gifted and accomplished in the world. The masters, each in their own distinctive tribal dress, exhibit their originality and skills in one of the most prestigious of all native dance competitions.
A grand parade, unlike any other parade in the world, opens the 2008 Red Earth Festival on Friday morning beginning at the Cox Center at 10:30 and winding through Downtown. The streets of downtown Oklahoma City will vibrate in Native American tribal spirit as representatives of more than 100 tribes, in full tribal regalia, make the Red Earth Parade one of America’s most unique.
The Red Earth Art Market opens Friday, June 6 at 11 am and the first Grand Entry of dance competitors begins at noon inside the Cox Convention Center Arena. Grand Entries are scheduled at noon and 7 pm Friday and Saturday, and at noon on Sunday.
The Red Earth Run, a 5k run and 2 mile fun walk, scheduled at 8 am Saturday June 7 on Regatta Park River Trails along the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City, is open to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities.
The Oklahoma RiverFest, presented by Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy, will take place June 7-8 at Regatta Park located on the Oklahoma River.
This year’s event will pay special tribute to the United States Navy and will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Commissioning of the USS Oklahoma City Submarine. Navy interactive exhibits, a Navy band and former crewmembers from the USS Oklahoma City Submarine will be on hand for the celebration. The third annual Oklahoma RiverFest serves as the official kickoff of Navy Week in Oklahoma City.
Besides launching Oklahoma City Navy Week, the two-day festival will feature the wimgo Dragon Boat Team Challenge, the RiverRide bicycling event, Devon Energy River Cruises, the Riverwind Casino RiverShow with jet ski and water ski performances, Red Earth RiverFest RiverRun, Lamar KidsPlay inflatable park, OGE Energy Corp Kayaks & Paddle Boats, Chesapeake Boathouse tours, rowing demonstrations and many other attractions.
The highlight of RiverFest is the increasingly popular Dragon Boat Team Challenge. Introduced two years ago at RiverFest, the friendly competition features 10 paddlers rowing colorful boats with hand-carved dragonheads to the beat of an on-board drum. Companies and individuals can sponsor a Dragon Boat Team for the Saturday, June 7 competition.
The Oklahoma River Ride is a 10-mile and 16-mile family friendly ride on the Oklahoma River trails as well as a 30-mile bicycle tour to northeast Oklahoma County. All cycling events will begin and end at Regatta Park. Participants can register for the cycling events at Wheeler Dealer Bicycles located at 2729 NW 50th St. or www.wheelerdealerbicycles.com.
The Oklahoma RiverFest at Regatta Park will be open Saturday, June 7 and on Sunday, June 8, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Regatta Park is located east of Bricktown on Lincoln Boulevard and the Oklahoma River.
The RiverFest Launch Party takes place on Friday, June 6 at Regatta Park. Reservations for “Rhythm and Ribs on the River” are $45 per person. Contact Oklahoma RiverFest at 405.602.1531 to make reservations.
For more information about the Third Annual Oklahoma RiverFest visit click here
JUNE 2008 EVENTS
OPEN LATE FRIDAYS, JUNE 20-OCTOBER 10
Beginning June 20, the OKCMOA will extend its Friday hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., giving local and out-of-town visitors a cultural outlet to begin their weekend. These new hours are in response to visitor inquiries and the desire to be more assessable at popular times. The Museum has considered the Friday night time slot for several years and performed extensive research, tracking visitation patterns and downtown’s residential growth. The Museum will offer visitors the full service of its galleries, education and film programs, store, and cafe on both Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
June Films: French, Opera, Italian, Hebrew and then there’s deadCENTER Film FestivalPriceless: A French Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Thursday, June 5, 7:30p;
Friday and Saturday, June 6 – 7, 5:30p & 8p
Jean, a shy young bartender, is mistaken for a millionaire by a beautiful seductress named Irene (Audrey Tautou). When Irene discovers his true identity, she abandons him, only to find that a love-struck Jean has no intention of letting her get away. Jean’s comical attempts to gain her affections gradually evolve into setting himself up as a gigolo at a luxury hotel, until Irene finally starts to warm to her persistent suitor. Against the atmospheric backdrop of the south of France, this romantic comedy is a fresh re-imagining of the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In French with English subtitles. Director: Pierre Salvadori 2006 France 104min. PG-13 HDdigital
Opera in HD from Teatro La Fenice, Venice:
Sun, 8 Jun 2008 2:00 PM
La Rodine is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini set in France during the Second Napoleonic Empire (1852-70). The courtesan Magda de Civry, provided for by the banker Rambaldo, meets the young Ruggero Lastouc at a party at her home. She later meets him in disguise in a Parisian café where she falls in love with him. Just like a swallow flying away towards the sun, Magda abandons the banker and goes to live with Ruggero on the French Riviera. This performance was the 2008 season premiere of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia. Director: Graham Vick. Conductor: Carlo Rizzi
SPECIAL PRICE: $20 Adults/ $18 Members, Students, Seniors. Advance advanced tickets go on sale now. Call 405-278-8237
What will be Stage Center’s ultimate legacy? I’ll be the first to admit I am among those who haven’t always appreciated this downtown oddity. I understand it’s highly regarded in the modern architecture movement, having been designed by living legend John Johansen.
Like the Crystal Bridge Botanical Tube at the neighboring Myriad Gardens, the former Mummer’s Theater is a stand out from an era that brought downtown some pretty bland architecture (think Vincent Carrozza’s Galleria Towers and Mid-America Tower).
And yet the Crystal Bridge and Stage Center also are vastly different in this respect: if I were to guess what motivated the designers of the Crystal Bridge, they’d say it was to create something beautiful. But Johansen, who I interviewed in this story for Sunday’s Oklahoman, wasn’t looking for beauty.
Backing up again, look at this way: when I go to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, I really like seeing the old portraits, paintings and modern pop culture paintings that depict gas stations, etc. I really don’t like the abstract, but I appreciate it for being something special – and I like that this part of the art world is included at the museum (something that wasn’t always the case – but that’s a story for another day).
OK, so it’s not as easy to understand Stage Center. But look at it closely. Enter that elaborate Tinker Toy of a theater and glance up the colorful stairways. Take a seat in the auditorium and really get a sense of the place. Then go out to the outer corridor and look out into the plaza. Look at the tubes, the elaborate linkages between the “pods.”
This is our theater. We could have settled for a big plain box. But we didn’t. At some level, this too is Oklahoma City, though it’s not a side of the community personality that we’re always comfortable with.
And so we even create legends – I’ve heard it time and again that the theater’s design was to blame for the failure of the once brilliant theatrical troupe that was to call it home – Mummer’s. And yet we can dig deeper into this aspect as well – and you can read about that here.
So what’s the future for Stage Center? It’s home now to the popular Carpenter Square Theater, though one must always remember that live theater isn’t a money maker – it is considered by many, however, a vital sign of a community’s soul, of its spirit
Things will inevitably change, as I noted at the end of today’s column. What will all mean – that’s what I want to hear from you.
Charles Hill, by the way, has some thoughts about Stage Center and John Johansen here.