Yesterday I posted some great photos taken by Will Hider while he and I toured “the lost city.” One building we discovered, one neither of us had ever noticed before, was the stunning Voss Building.
Thanks to Bradley Wynn, we also have some photos from the Oklahoma Historical Society to provide us with a glimpse of the building when it was home to Voss Truck Lines.
Imagine if I had popped a story a few years back that Core to Shore development would be kicked off by the opening of an AMC Theater with an Imax cinema (forget that Harkins is in nearby Lower Bricktown), a Borders Bookstore, a Hard Rock Cafe, a Sega Gameworks, a drugstore, restaurants, ice cream shop, clubs and a hotel. Go back to the master plan for Core to Shore and you’ll see renderings of such high hopes – maybe even with a hint of a Nordstrom’s to boot.
The always wonderful Otis White (@otiswhite on Twitter) this morning shared a link to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about that very sort of mix actually developed in downtown Minneapolis not that long ago. A cursory glimpse of this development shows proximity to an arena and all the grandest planning efforts can’t always stop a dream from turning into a nightmare:
So what can be learned from this experience as Oklahoma City continues its plunge into developing Core to Shore?
We’ve seen lots of photos of the Skydance bridge as it’s gone up over the new Interstate 40. But have you seen it lit up? These photos were first posted at OKC Talk, and permission has been given to post them at OKC Central.
This Post Has Absolutely Nothing to do with Downtown, Real Estate, Business or Oklahoma City *or maybe it does?
My only purpose in posting this at all is to prove that yeah, Jimmy Webb is a brilliant song writer, but he does have his shame too.
Yep. In case you missed it, here’s the story. Keep in mind that during a city council discussion earlier this year, the Myriad Gardens Foundation showed no interest in taking on responsibility for the Core to Shore Park.
Maybe you missed the story that appeared earlier this week in which Gary Ridley at ODOT talked about how potential federal budget cuts could hamper completion of the new Interstate 40 south of downtown (read it here). Note the following excerpt:
Ridley said the cut would be so extreme his agency would be unable to protect the $670 million Crosstown Expressway project, the most expensive project in state history. The seven-year project to relocate Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City is scheduled to be completed next year.
“When you talk about those kind of numbers, everything is at risk,” he said. “You just can’t say that something is going to be protected over everything else.”
I thought this was intriguing in light of news in prior weeks that the highway was running ahead of schedule (relatively speaking) and is set to open for traffic by mid-2012. So I called ODOT and discovered there is only one bid left, a $20 million paving job for the highway west of the Bricktown Canal, and it’s been advertised and responses are due soon.
State statute requires that money be in hand before bids are advertised. So I called Ridley for clarification. Doesn’t this mean the highway is set to open regardless of future funding? The ensuing conversation took a lot of twists and turns, but here’s the bottom line: the highway will open for traffic next year, but the boulevard, which is in the eight-year funding plan, could be delayed significantly.
This is the boulevard that Mayor Mick Cornett has been insisting will be open by 2014, and thus the Core to Shore park just had to be finished at the same time. It’s the boulevard that has been the basis of so much Core to Shore planning, and has been such a big part of future planning that the arena’s new grand entrance is being rebuilt – NOW – to face that road.
It’s an $85 million boulevard. It’s not funded. And when Ridley talks about how his agency is looking at a major cut to funding that could alter its eight-year plan, is OKC ready for what that could mean to this project?
I don’t get to do a column on Tuesday because of the lack of a business section with Monday being a holiday. But if I did have a column that day, I’d say this: Mark this day on your calendar; it’s a historic one for downtown Oklahoma City.
Yep, the city council is set to decide, once and for all, the location of the downtown elementary school. Expect an easy approval of the decision previously made by the Oklahoma City School Board and MAPS for Kids trust to build the school at Sheridan and Walker Avenues, across from Stage Center.
Will a separate decision to approve a recommendation by the MAPS 3 citizens review board to build the new convention center south of the Myriad Gardens be just as easy? Despite the best of efforts by Mayor Mick Cornett the past few years to lock in a different site south of the Oklahoma City Arena, don’t be surprised if the “Core to Shore North” site sticks.
Here’s what consultant Populous has to say about the site:
In our opinion, this site succeeds on several levels. With a prominent civic address on the future Boulevard and an enviable orientation to the newly revitalized Myriad Gardens park and future Central Park, Core to Shore North is ideally positioned to enhance the convention center’s and Oklahoma City’s brand as a great business destination.
This site has excellent linkages to the City’s arena and strong connections to existing hotels, as well as to Bricktown’s dining and entertainment establishments. Hotel development possibilities on-site and on adjacent parcels present many attractive options. Until the current Cox Center site is redeveloped, its current meeting and arena facilities can augment the new convention center’s rentable space.
The Cox site also provides hotel development potential directly adjacent to Core to Shore North. Areas west of this site including the Film Row redevelopment will benefit from the added visitor activity. Another important factor influencing our decision is the on-going implementation of Project 180, a transformative streetscape enhancement project that will significantly improve the pedestrian environment throughout this portion of downtown.
In summary, we believe that the Core to Shore North site provides the best opportunity to create not only a vibrant new convention center but to help strengthen the existing downtown environment.
So will there be any fireworks at all?
Oh yes, my friends, the schedule for all the MAPS 3 projects will be up for a vote as well. And as we all know, this is where the butchering of the steer has gotten a bit messy. Get ready to trash the clothes you’re wearing if you’re too close to this action.
Two options are up for consideration. Let’s get down to the marquee events – the streetcar system, Core to Shore park and the convention center.
Under option one, the first phase of the street car system, which would include a hub and at least a starting route, would be finished by early 2017.
The Core to Shore park heavily promoted by Mayor Mick Cornett would be finished to coincide with his expectation of a new adjoining boulevard opening in 2014. Sort of at least. If I understand everything correctly, this will be bare bones sort of park, nothing much more than green space for the first phase, with later, more elaborate phases to be done a few years later.
The convention center meanwhile, would open by early 2019. Sure, that may seem a long time away for some of you, especially those of you who were in elementary school when the first MAPS started. For me… well, I’ll be shocked if any of these relatively “quick” schedules hold.
Of course all that assumes the council goes for the option one recommended by the MAPS 3 citizens review board. And as indicated last month, they might not.
So what’s up with option two?
Under this option, Mayor Mick gets his full park by 2014, with only a segment for south of the new Interstate 40 delayed a few years later. The convention center opening is delayed to late 2019. And the transit system, from what I can tell, remains on the same track as in option one. At this point Steve Lackmeyer makes no comment about what various political forces might be pitted against each other, and how he’ll be happy to be munching on some popcorn while watching the replay Tuesday night, relieved that the very talented Michael Kimball has taken over as city hall reporter (don’t worry boys and girls, I’m still on the downtown beat).
UPDATE: OPTION ONE PASSED…. JUST AS CRAZY AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE…
Dennis Wells shared this video as an idea for doing something special with the Core to Shore Park. One must wonder – can such creativity and cutting edge ideas occur if the deadline for completion, as pushed by Mayor Mick Cornett, is set for 2014?
As Creative Director at Robot House Creative, Brian Winkeler, has been getting a lot of notice lately for it’s branding and marketing campaigns, including the Housewives of the 405 comic series promoting the Body Trends salon. Mayor Mick Cornett is asking the Oklahoma City Council to take his word as a self described branding expert that “Oklahoma City Boulevard” is the best name for the yet to be designed or built downtown boulevard and that no further examination of study of the matter is needed. Cornett wants the council to approve this street name tomorrow.
Winkeler disagrees with the mayor’s take on branding. Here’s what our Robot House friend has to say:
(UPDATE: The name was passed Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Council, 8-1) Do you ever get tired of hearing fabulous tales of the star-studded goings-on that take place on the west coast on world-renowned Los Angeles Blvd? Or the five-star dining and über-exclusive retail experiences to be had up north on New York Boulevard?
Of course not. Because streets with those names don’t exist in those cities. New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and (fill in your favorite major market city here) have major thoroughfares of culture and commerce with names that are unique, distinctive and memorable. Sunset Boulevard. Lake Shore Drive. Broadway (luckily, we’ve already got one of those).
Mayor Mick Cornett is inexplicably desperate for the boulevard at the epicenter of Oklahoma City’s Core to Shore development to be named…Oklahoma City Boulevard.
Oklahoma City Boulevard.
In the words of Seth Meyers, “Really?”
I like Mick. I can’t say I keep abreast of enough to know whether or not I should like him, but he did a great job with promoting that weight loss website a while back and seems to be doing a pretty good job continuing the momentum that Ron Norick built up during his tenure.
But despite being named the Oklahoma City Ad Club’s “Advertising Man of the Year” in 2010, Mayor Mick Cornett is not a creative professional. And from my perspective as an actual creative professional, I would be enraged at the idea of naming such an important piece of real estate so insipidly if I could only keep from falling asleep halfway through hearing it. I have no business trying to either be a mayor or read sports scores off of a teleprompter and Mick Cornett has no business trying to be a branding expert.
The job of the creative professional is to come up with a whole bunch of crappy ideas knowing that there will be at least one nugget of gold uncovered through the process. Get a group of top Creative Directors in town together to brainstorm names for this game-changing artery into the beating heart of 21st century Oklahoma City and “Oklahoma City Boulevard” wouldn’t even make it onto the board as a joke. It’s that trite. It’s that uninspired. It’s “Oklahoma is OK” reborn on a street sign.
Do you know where you’ll find major streets named after cities? In other cities. Miami Boulevard can be found in Dayton, OH. Our frienemies up in Tulsa have Boston Avenue. We’ve even got Portland Avenue here in town (though it’s thankfully free of suicidal, caffeinated hipster douchebags).
We’re better than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.” We’re cooler than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.” We are in the midst of a creative and cultural renaissance most of us would’ve never thought possible 20 years ago. Amazing things are happening here and, if Core to Shore does come together as promised and envisioned, it will be another amazing thing we can show off to the world.
What should it be named? I don’t know…yet. But speaking as someone who’s developed strategic branding campaigns for almost 20 years, I believe it should be named something unique. Something unexpected. Something that reflects the cool, creative, innovative culture we’re growing right now in our beloved city.
Oklahoma City deserves better than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.”
News hole: space available for a story.
Journalism fact No. 1: the news hole is never big enough.
That in mind, I’m pointing you to a story I really hope you read in the Sunday paper about Core to Shore and the park being promoted by Mayor Mick Cornett. Read it here.
Then read these items that got left on the cutting floor:
- Mayor Mick Cornett and City Manager Jim Couch say they are concerned about the planned width of the boulevard, but they were not aware that the city will need to appeal the design with the Federal Highway Administration since it was a part of the environmental report done as part of required mitigation more than a decade ago.
- Cornett is pressing ahead with a vote at the Oklahoma City Council meeting on Tuesday to name the boulevard “Oklahoma City Boulevard.” The boulevard hasn’t been designed yet, there has been no public discussion or any independent branding or marketing experts brought in to help on naming what he has declared to be the future gateway into downtown. Ward 1 Councilman Gary Marrs noted this past week he doubts the boulevard will be completed by 2014, and even questions whether it will truly be funded in light of road construction funding cuts that hit the Oklahoma Department of Transportation this past legislative session
Go to http://www.40forward.com/ to see the latest video of the I-40 relocation. The Core to Shore area is shown as the helicopter hovers over Robinson Avenue.