Same routine as usual. 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.
A couple of quick tidbits….
- The Haynes family, which owns Johnnies and West, will be opening a hybrid of the two at Level in Deep Deuce. I’m told the restaurant will include a pub, unlike a traditional Johnnies, but will also feature some of the menu items found at Johnnies, most notably its’ hamburgers. The restaurant will be located immediately west of Native Roots Market.
- The Garage, a fun burger joint run by the Hal Smith Group that includes an ’80s theme and some arcade games, is expected to open on the first floor of the Guardian Garage apartments at NW 10 and Robinson.
President of Downtown Council of Kansas City:
He notes Kansas City, like Oklahoma City and any other major metropolitan area, does experience competition from the suburbs. The difference, he notes, is Kansas City is split along state lines between Missouri and Kansas. An economic incentives war is hurting everyone, with more than a billion dollars going back and forth stealing each other’s headquarters.
“There are no new jobs, no one is moving their homes, because they’re just moving over the border. It just destabilizes the whole area.”
AMC moving to Kansas side simply for a 10-year lease. War began with current Kansas governor Brownback, notes prior governor had a “gentleman’s agreement” that prevented such problems.
Praises Denver for how it has coordinated economic development with suburbs.
“I cannot compete with $45 million subsidized rent,” Dietrich said. “I can recruit companies, but we can’t keep them.”
Acknowledges public schools seen as a detriment to development. System not accredited for years. First downtown charter elementary school opening, seen as a big boost.
“Not a lot of families live in the central core. Our main demographic is young professionals. We’re a nitch market. We get young folks who want a fun exciting life.”
Says can’t force a plan – must go with the market.
Driving through downtown Kansas City in 2013, one sees a completely different city than they did just a decade ago. The blight is scarce, the streets are great, and it feels like a revitalized eastern U.S. city.
Over 10 years the downtown has seen a reinvestment of $6 billion with another $1.3 billion in the planning stages. The downtown has a new tax base of $75 million, up 31 percent. Residential population is up 39 percent (19,000). Residential occupancy is at 98 percent. Assessed value of all property in the central business district is at $458 million, up 28.1 percent since 2002. Hotel occupancy reached 57.2 percent (interesting – downtown OKC is at around 75 to 80 percent). And 10 million people visited downtown Kansas City in 2012.
So how did downtown Kansas City make such a rapid turnaround?
Downtown budget: $2 million a year budget.
Sweep and clean every sidewalk twice a day, remove graffiti daily, take photos for prosecution.
Shut down illegal mini liquor distributors posing as convenience stores, gas stations.
River market budget of $400,000 a year.
18th and Vine budget, $135,000 a year.
Ten years into the program, employ 65 people. Employ additional security to help maintain safety at library.
Built a $2 million homeless, food providing shelter. Consolidated services so that homeless didn’t have to travel back and forth several miles across downtown to get various services.
Took over parks, rid them of drug dealers.
Creates a healthy community by doing a healthy mix of market rate, affordable and low income housing instead of creating enclaves (this is becoming a bigger concern for those trying to promote housing in downtown Oklahoma City.).
Developed the Power and Light District, attracted 9 million visitors last year, top visitor attraction for the region (which was dead last night – I’ll talk more about that later).
William Dietrich is speaking. He’s showing photos of downtown Kansas City from 2002, and it was exactly as I remembered, a dead, unsightly, unloved urban core. Back then, the Kansas City folks were visiting Oklahoma City to learn from our experience with the original MAPS (which was completed in 2002).
Folks laugh as he shows off photos from a U-2 visit in which they used the blighted downtown as a backdrop for promotional materials that portrayed them in an apocalyptic America.
President of Downtown Council of Kansas City
- Downtown Kansas City abandoned in 1970s, dead 20 years ago.
- First attempted to get a downtown ballpark built. Too much inertia at the time.
- Did get a performing arts center located downtown.
It was 2002 that Dietrich’s Downtown Council of Kansas City was formed. They did a huge redevelopment master plan where it was determined the city needed an entertainment district, riverfront district, arts district, convention center, and amenities that would attract creative businesses, keep existing businesses and grow them…
My visit to Kansas City continues…..
Who is on this trip?
I don’t have the full list, but those on the bus to Kansas City include Deep Deuce developer Richard McKown, Bricktown developer Brent Brewer, veteran downtown real estate player Chuck Wiggin (owner of 101 Park Ave), architect and downtown design review committee chair Betsy Brunsteter, urban planner Blair Humphreys, former city planner (and now operations guy at Downtown OKC Inc.) A.J. Kirkpatrick, veteran Bricktown developer Brent Brewer, Bricktown Association director Jeannette Smith, and several more folks representing banks, civil engineering firms, and real estate interests.
So why Kansas City?
Developer Richard McKown, one of the hosts of this Urban Land Institute trip, notes that for many years Oklahoma City’s civic leaders have looked south for inspiration when it comes to urban development. Look at Bricktown and one sees influence from Dallas’ West End and the San Antonio Riverwalk. One can even see some influence from Fort Worth. And just last week I spoke to folks along NW 23 Uptown who dream of it becoming the next Austin South Congress Avenue.
Kansas City isn’t any further away than those cities to the south, but has often been overlooked by Oklahoma City. McKown, who lived in Kansas City, notes it may be the westernmost eastern style city.
On this first stretch of the drive to Kansas City, we’re watching a documentary on transit issues with their downtown redevelopment. In the documentary, Kansas City officials note that they’ve pursued creation of a streetcar system that is intended to spark economic development over simple transit of passengers. “That may be counter-intuitive,” one planner noted, but added the key is to build a route where there is instant demand, where it can add more life to the streets, add more buzz and momentum to urban core development.
Some other themes we’ve heard before – that subsidizing such transit only counters far greater subsidy of suburban sprawl via the construction of highways and extending city resources farther and farther out from the core of the city.
Kansas City, like Oklahoma City, had interurban and streetcars during the first half of the 20th century before the systems were scrapped in favor of accommodating vehicular traffic.
This documentary is also citing the same statistics we heard at the place making conference at OU – the younger generation is increasingly abandoning car ownership and seeking to eliminate such expenses by living in dense, urban areas with public transit and walkable neighborhoods.
Kansas City, like Oklahoma City, recently voted for funding for a streetcar system but there is some debate taking place as the work shifts from funding the system to getting it designed and built.
Much is made of the dynamic between Dallas and Oklahoma City, but truth be told, it’s Kansas City that has often captured the attention of Oklahoma City urbanists – and while they might not admit it, I’ve observed more than once where Kansas City urbanists were looking over their shoulders at what’s been accomplished here with the MAPS initiatives and other urban experiments.
I am traveling to Kansas City today as a guest of the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Urban Land Institute to examine downtown Kansas City, listen to the folks who have led its ongoing revitalization, and come back with insight as to what could be next for Oklahoma City. The trip will consist of a who’s who in the downtown business, development and planning community.
If technology allows, I’ll do some live blogging along the way. If you’re not following me on Twitter and Facebook, today may be the time to do so if I’m limited to using my phone. And while the regular OKC Central Live Chat at 10 a.m. is cancelled, don’t be surprised if the always brilliant and innovative NewsOK digital editor Tiffany Gibson figures out a way for me to use my wireless card to do a live chat from the bus – maybe with some great guest participants.
Kansas City – it’s been a decade since my last visit. Surprise me. Kansas City, here I come…
Earlier this week I wrote about the place making conference at OU, and how Edmond is pursuing a “complete streets” approach to its infrastructure and planning. But what does it mean to pursue “complete streets”? This video explains (h/t to Land Run Okie at OKC Talk)