When designs were unveiled over the fall for a Holiday Inn Express at Oklahoman and Main Street in Bricktown, the project was greeted with applause by the public. The design were especially popular when seen in light against previous incarnations of the project just a few years ago that never got off the ground. The architects at ADG might have walked away from a conceptual presentation believing their work would easily win approval, especially when compared to other hotel projects reviewed and approved by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee. As I noted after the design review in January, the feedback from the committee was, well, confusing:
Plans for the hotel, drawn up by Architectural Design Group, were applauded at Tuesday’s meeting of the Bricktown Urban Design Committee, but not without conflicting guidance given on plans for the entryway.
Panel members unanimously agreed to allow the project to proceed, but with possible changes to the hotel’s entrance to be considered at a later date. Committee member Bob Bright, also a planning commissioner, repeatedly criticized the height of an entrance archway, while another member, architect Mark Krittenbrink, argued for the height but didn’t like its angled protrusion.
“Making a prominent entrance is typical of the era,” Krittenbrink said. “But the leaning out … is not historical.”
Another member, Avis Scaramucci, indicated she had no problem with the archway. She also disagreed with Bright’s suggestion that the entrance canopies were not a good fit for the district, arguing the design does reflect other canopies found in Bricktown. Bright also questioned whether the two-story glass-encased lobby was in keeping with the historic nature of the century-old warehouse district.
“It just seems like someone decided to stick something on the front to make it look modern,” Bright said. “It doesn’t seem consistent with where we are.”
Scott Dedmon, project architect, responded the design team wished to avoid a “Disneyland replication design” that attempts to recreate historic buildings. “We’re building a building in 2013, not a building in 1915,” Dedmon said.
Not everyone liked the committee’s reaction, and over at OKC Talk, several folks questioned whether the committee had gone too far. So how is Dedmon to respond? Well, in this case, they’re returning to the committee Wednesday with five alternatives that attempt to address all the conflicting feedback received in January. This sort of effort, in my years covering Bricktown Urban Design since 1997, is unprecedented.
I wonder if anyone on the committee has really spent the time to review the ordinance that established the design review and set up the committee’s responsibilities.
Here’s a section the Oklahoma City Municipal Code I find especially noteworthy:
§ 59-7150. – Bricktown Core Development District.
K. Design Guidelines for Certificates of Approval for BC Zoned Properties. The following design guidelines are advisory and serve as a reference for all parties involved in the design review process. They do not constitute regulations. The Bricktown Urban Design Committee shall be guided by these guidelines:
(2) Brick building facades, preferably varying shades of red brick, are an established and a critical characteristic of the district’s core. New and renovated facades should enhance or complement this characteristic. Innovative design and creative use of building materials, such as glass, concrete and architectural metals are encouraged. Mirrored glass and vinyl siding are discouraged.
UPDATE: Committee members Bob Bright and Mark Krittenbrink (who were among the ones giving conflicting feedback on the first presentation of the Holiday Inn application), were absent at today’s meeting. That left the committee short of a quorum, so the question of this project’s design remains to be decided another day.
Construction is starting a few months later than expected, but site work is underway this week for the future KD’s, the restaurant to be opened and operated by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group and Thunder star Kevin Durant. When the project was first announced, it was expected to open by October (the start of the next NBA season) with construction spanning about one year. If the same schedule sticks, we’re likely looking at an opening in early 2014.
The $5 million, 10,000-square-foot restaurant will feature a walk-around bar, seating for 320 people, and private dining rooms. The Hal Smith Restaurant Group has enjoyed a long relationship with Lower Bricktown developer Randy Hogan that dates to the late 1990s opening of Red Rock Canyon Grill on Hogan’s East Wharf development on Lake Hefner. Hal Smith also owns and operates the still popular Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill just east of the future KD’s restaurant.
The following renderings show what the restaurant will look like once it’s completed:
Yes, the new 127-room, five-story Holiday Inn Express, put on hold back in 2008, is about to become a reality.
The site has, for decades, been home to the former Steffen’s Dairy.
I’ve got the story about the latest hotel pitched for Bricktown. Sorry, but I missed the mark on photos I took today. Here’s the “not ready for print” photos I took of the renderings:
For those interested in seeing how urban design review can change how a project is developed, consider the latest developments with a proposed Holiday Inn Express.
When the hotel was first proposed in 2008, it was a four-story, 95-room hotel with 41 percent synthetic stucco in the facade and columns unlike anything found in Bricktown.
The design was unanimously rejected by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee.
So then a new design was submitted that did away with the columns and the stucco and featured an all brick facade. The design was approved – though it didn’t draw much excitement.
With approval in hand, the project was scrapped due to the economic crash of 2009. Now the Bricktown hotel market is going full steam, and Holiday Inn Express is back on track with a new developer and new architect.
And on Wednesday, the Bricktown Urban Design Committee was thrilled to see a presentation of the newest designs by Architectural Design Group:
The latest application to Bricktown Urban Design Committee has me pretty excited – many who have hoped to see windows restored and a complete renovation to the 110-year-old building at 27 E Sheridan Ave. may see even more improvement than most could have hoped for.
The application shows windows are to be restored on facade facing Sheridan Avenue and the restoration of red brick color to the nameplate atop the building (the last paint job inexplicably retained the yellow paint job left over from when the building was first partially renovated as the home of Windy City Pizza in 1994).
The application also shows a nice renovation planned for the even uglier north-side of the building.
If this renovation is realized, it will mark a complete transformation of the heart of Bricktown from the BNSF tracks to Central Avenue. It took a long time… but it’s finally about to become a reality. Next challenge – bring life to the upper floors of the Meidke Building, Spaghetti Warehouse, Hunzicker building and Melting Pot building.
Over the past dozen years we’ve seen Chris Johnson proposals for Bricktown come and go, including the most recent controversial effort to build parking and a couple of retail buildings along the Bricktown Canal. To date, we’ve seen nothing but parking.
Now we’ve got another rendering coming to this week’s Bricktown Urban Design Committee. The property, 229 E Sheridan, once home to Joker’s Comedy Club, has been vacant for the past decade. Word on the street has it that it was previously either owned or leased by individuals who thought they could find a way to get around the district’s zoning against strip clubs (I was never able to verify or disprove this story).
Johnson quietly bought the building this past year, and what he’s attempting is a fairly extensive makeover. The former warehouse, built in 1952, is not generally regarded as one of Bricktown’s more remarkable structures, and I’m not sure anyone will really object to the design.
Over at www.okctalk.com, some are questioning why Johnson’s application shows no urgency for parking, referencing the heart of the dispute over his planned canal project that is now on hold.
Looking at Johnson’s track records, others ask whether they can even believe if this project will ever take place….
Weather permitting, it is likely many of you will be excited to see some activity at the long vacant Rock Island Plow Building at Oklahoma and Reno Avenues in Bricktown.
Don’t celebrate yet.
Let’s get into some background first; the building, built in 1909, has been vacant since the early 1980s when it was targeted for redevelopment by original Bricktown developer Neal Horton. During research for my book OKC Second Time Around, I learned that Horton was bewildered when he first walked into the building and found all the desks, paperwork, equipment and furnishings still in place even though the final operation in the building had ceased years earlier. It was, as his architect Don Beck noted, as if the employees left on a Friday and simply never returned.
The building was eventually boarded up, and has remained empty ever since. Avis and Phil Scaramuci bought the building a few years ago, spent quite a bit of money to prevent the building from collapsing, but have done nothing in the years since.
As time passed, the rest of Bricktown has continued to move forward and Avis Scaramuci has been singled out for criticism by the online community and others.
Richard McKown, who worked with the Scaramuci’s son Wade, a respected London architect, on the Level Urban Apartments in Deep Deuce, confirms he is now doing some exploratory work on what it will take to bring the Rock Island Plow Building back to life.
The boards will be removed from the building Tuesday and Wednesday, weather permitting. Then, on Thursday, a historic surveyor will inspect the building’s window openings. And on Friday, the boards will go back up over the windows.
There is no deal yet. But this also is cause to have hope.
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.
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: