I had to work late Thursday, covering the grand opening of Block 42. Below, soon-to-be resident Dick Rodine shows off the view to former Mayor Kirk Humphreys.
More views of the Rodine residence:
All smiles for developer Grant Humphreys. His next project: the Flatiron.
“Oscar” greets visitors and residents as they enter into the main lobby of Block 42.
It was at one of the very first mayors roundtables, several years ago, that I first got a glimpse of what we’re now seeing as the transformation of the Flat Iron and Deep Deuce areas into a real downtown neighborhood.
And yes, again, it was at another roundtable that it became clear the city was going to aggressively seek development of the area we now know as Core to Shore.
So what’s next?
Here’s the advance for next week’s Mayors Roundtable from the city:
Developers, contractors, design professionals and government leaders interested in learning about future housing demand and the development of a Central Park-like space in downtown Oklahoma City can register now through May 12 for the seventh annual Mayor’s Development Roundtable. The Roundtable will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 14 at the Cox Business Services Convention Center. Real estate market expert Laurie Volk will kick off the event with a session called “Changing Markets and the New Housing Paradigm.”
Volk is co-director of Zimmerman/Volk Associates, a New Jersey-based market research firm specializing in urban development and redevelopment.
The second session will feature Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence for the Trust for Public Land in Washington, D.C. Harnik, who is the author of Inside City Parks, a book about the park system in the 25 largest cities in the U.S. and The Excellent City Park System: What Makes it Great and How to Get There, will discuss development opportunities related to a proposed park in downtown Oklahoma City. Mayor Cornett will facilitate roundtable discussion with speakers, attendees and local experts after each session.
The Mayor will close the conference by presenting an Award for Outstanding Development in Oklahoma City. Registration is $65 and includes breakfast and lunch.
Register online by May 12 at www.okc.gov/planning/roundtable.
Now is the time to move up to Downtown Oklahoma City! On Saturday, May 3, the Move UP Downtown Living Tour will lead visitors through 11 new or renovated residential developments for sale and lease, with a featured stop at the 2008 Symphony Designer Show House.
This self-guided tour runs from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and visitors are invited to tour as many properties as they like. The free Move UP shuttles will run a continuous loop of the tour locations until 6 p.m. Stops can be visited in any order. Tour books with maps will be available at each stop. Guests should allow 20 – 30 minutes for each stop they choose to visit.
Free parking will be provided at NW 10th & Robinson across from Hadden Hall, Lower Bricktown lots and the City Center Garage (enter from Park Avenue or Hudson) located at 301 W. Sheridan. Downtown OKC offers over 20,000 lot and on street metered parking spaces for your convenience. Metered spots are free on weekends.
The 11 stops featured on the tour include; Block 42; The Hill; The Sieber; Legacy at Arts Quarter; Carnegie Centre; Park Harvey; Sycamore Square South; Lower Bricktown/Centennial; The Montgomery; Hadden Hall; and Brownstones at Maywood Park and the 2008 Symphony Designer Show House. Click here for a tour map
Tour guests will experience all that downtown OKC has to offer, with restaurants and specialty shops offering tour specials and prizes. As guests visit each property, they are invited to register to win one of many exciting Downtown prizes. The more properties visited, the better the chance to win! Prizes include a $2,000 gift certificate to Bo Concept Urban Design; a “Downtown Test Drive” at the Skirvin Hilton with a deluxe room and dinner at the Park Avenue Grill; and gift certificates and passes to many of Downtown’s finest eating establishments and exciting attractions
The 35th annual Symphony Designers Show House and Gardens, a project of the Oklahoma City Orchestra League, will feature the new downtown construction of the Brownstones at Maywood Park. Admission to the Symphony Designer Show House is $15.00 each and no children under 8 or cameras are allowed. The Show House is open until 3:30 on May 3. The Show House opens runs through May 18.
The Move UP Downtown Living Tour is produced by Downtown OKC Inc. and sponsored by the Downtown Business Improvement District, The Oklahoman, Downtown Magazine and the Downtown Developers. Supporting sponsors include Bo Concept Urban Design, Downtown Urban Neighbors (U.N.) and Red Prime Steak.
SoundBites Concert Series Tomorrow! The John Arnold Band
Both kinds of music, country and western, will fill the Downtown spring air today as the The John Arnold Band takes the stage to entertain downtowners on their lunch break The band won the $50,000 national Dodge-Wrangler Country Showdown and has toured across the US with Ricky Skaggs and Exile. They have opened for such artists as George Strait, Steve Wariner, Marty Stuart, Reba McEntire, Michael Martin Murphey, The Bellamy Brothers, The Judds, T. Graham Brown, and many others.
SoundBites concerts happen Fridays in May and June from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in Couch Park, located between Broadway and Robinson at Robert S. Kerr, adjacent to Kerr Park.
SoundBites concerts include:
May 2…..John Arnold Band
May 9…..The Bluecats
May 16….Camille Harp
May 23….Horseshoe Road (Steve’s note: these guys are good – future national showcase performers good)
May 30….Starkweather Boys
June 6…..Shakespearean Afternoon Delight by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park June 13…..Aranda
June 20…..Groove Merchants/SoundBites at Sunset 4:30 – 6:30
Hungry downtowners are encouraged to visit one of the many fine SoundBites restaurant partners to grab a lunch to go and enjoy the tunes. These restaurant partners are offering a special $5 “SoundBites2Go” lunch special! Couch Park features tables with umbrellas and cozy shaded seating areas and is the perfect spot for a midday Downtown retreat from the office.
To take advantage of the SoundBites2Go $5 lunch specials, visit the following:
Quizno’s………………110 N. Robinson….232-7773
Sub Stop……………..120 N Robinson…..232-3332
Interurban……………..204 N. Robinson….235-4448
City Bites……………..211 N. Robinson….232-3322
Ground Floor Café…..211 N. Robinson….232-2233
Crave……………………211 N. Robinson…..606-6691
SoundBites in the Park is presented by the Downtown Oklahoma City Business Improvement District, managed by Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc.
For more information regarding SoundBites in the Park or the BID, contact Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. at (405) 235-3500.
Grant Humphreys submitted the winning bid for the Ferris Wheel at the legendary Santa Monica Pier. I’ve got what no other television station or newspaper has – an interview with Grant. Full story in tomorrow’s paper and at www.newsok.com.
304 NE 3 – The heart of Deep Deuce and nominated for Worst Downtown Eyesore.
Let’s see now… it’s been boarded up since at least 2002, it has broken windows and the siding is peeling off. I know it was placed at least once on the city’s “long-term boarded-up buildings” list but not sure if any action followed.
Oklahoma County Assessor records show the building was built in 1915 and is owned by Melvin F. Luster.
A couple of weeks ago I posted the following question at www.okctalk.com: what are the worst downtown eyesores?
Here’s the list they compiled:
Old Downtown Library
Former Stewart Metal buildings
304 NE 3 (Deep Deuce)
Former Fox Collission Building
Bob Howard Ford
Union Bus Station
First National Arcade
Garage at Kerr and Harvey
Park Harvey Building
Former nightclub at Main and Walker
Goodyear Tire store
Bricktown Parking Garage
U-Haul building in Bricktown
So, what’s next? I’ve got a camera, and I’m preparing to take some photos of these “eyesores.” Then I’ll provide details on some of these properties, followed by a poll here at www.okccentral.com. The more of you who vote in this poll, the more likely it is you might nudge someone to make some improvements. Now, quiz time friends… which one of these “eyesores” is the only Oklahoma City property to win one of the highest architectural honors possible? Which property was deemed one of the city’s most significant architectural landmarks by a panel of architects and preservationists? Which building is owned by dedicated urban pioneers who have led in their district’s revival? And which building is closest to becoming history?
A neighborhood emerges… so what’s next?
This flat iron style building at NE 5 and Harrison has stood empty for years, and not too long ago it was threatened with demolition as developers sought to replace it with a truck stop. Now we know what’s about to happen next…
You may have read last week’s story about Grant Humphreys moving ahead with plans to renovate the old flat iron building and build an adjoining five-story retail, office and housing complex. The design changes, which included a glass elevator rising up to a rooftop garden, was approved by the Oklahoma City urban Renewal Authority.
The above view is what one will see from Interstate 235, which makes me wonder how this project might change the downtown skyline. We’ve already seen how Humphreys’ Block 42 changes the view from southbound I-235. The design is certainly unique – I can’t think of anything like it downtown or elsewhere in this city.
Grant says he has the financing to get this done. He’s overcome the obstacles and is ready to move forward this spring. And observers are intrigued by his reports of promising discussions with a potential grocery. So … what will this all mean for the emerging Flat Iron and Deep Deuce neighborhoods?
On Tuesday Oklahoma City officials met with Bricktown merchants and updated them on their desire to build a fire station at the east entrance to the entertainment district. Several Bricktown merchants are worried about the department’s chosen location because they fear it will result in fire engines racing along Sheridan Avenue, endangering pedestrians on busy summer evenings.
At the meeting, city staff acknowledged they did not survey other cities to see whether fire stations had been built in urban entertainment districts and if so, how that worked out. After the meeting, Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, called the meeting a start, not an end, of the discussion.
A glimpse at the agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting of the Oklahoma City Council shows city staff is asking council members to approve a $771,000 purchase of the property at Sheridan and Lincoln - the very location that concerns several Bricktown merchants. The transaction would also transfer ownership of a former city maintenance yard at Sheridan and Byers to the owner of the proposed fire station property. The council item does not call for any competitive bidding for the city property. The council item also does not include an appraisal for the city property.
City staff did not communicate at Wednesday’s meeting the purchase was scheduled for Tuesday.
Previously, city staff sought to locate the fire station in Deep Deuce, which is turning into the first true downtown neighborhood with a handful of housing developments being built between NE 4, NE 2, Walnut and Oklahoma Avenues.
“Dinner in the Deuce” tonight and tomorrow is just one of several downtown events listed at OPUBCO Communications’ new web site, www.wimgo.com. To learn more about WIMGO, read today’s story by David Zizzo.
If you didn’t catch the story yesterday in The Oklahoman, I wrote about a restaurant preparing to open in the Gold Dome. Dr. Irene Lam, who saved the landmark from almost certain destruction a few years ago, can soon boast more than 93 percent occupancy.
Not everyone thought she would succeed.
I still recall then councilman Guy Liebmann (now a state representative) expressing serious doubts about Lam’s chances and questioning whether the city should provide some grants and loans designed for restoring historic properties. I never sensed that Liebmann was opposed to Lam’s efforts – he just didn’t believe she would ever succeed at getting the odd shaped building (once the proud home of Citizens Bank) filled.
For those who don’t recall the events that led to this transformation, it began with an effort by BancOne (now Chase Bank) to move to smaller quarters across the street. Walgreens, meanwhile, was eager to buy the Gold Dome, raze it, and build a new store across the street from an existing CVS drug store.
The historic preservationists – to be blunt – went nuts. They organized, they held pickets at the corner of NW 23 and Classen, and they didn’t spare BancOne or Walgreens their wrath. They also sought out alternate buyers – one of whom ended up being Dr. Lam.
Walgreens and BancOne agreed to look at alternatives that allowed both companies to build new locations at the gateway to the Asian District and allow the Gold Dome to survive for future generations.
Dr. Lam, meanwhile, has stayed true to promises of making the Gold Dome a community center – and will be hosting the Lunar New Year festival on Saturday.
Preservationists since have had hits and misses. They succeeded in convincing the city to rebuild the Walnut Avenue bridge in Bricktown and also celebrated the renovation of once dilapidated Skirvin Hilton Hotel.
More old structures may face demolition in the near future. Developers of the Triangle have indicated they may seek to raze the Finley Building at NE 2 and Walnut. And Tom Ward indicated in an interview a few weeks ago that while he is keeping an open mind on the future of the former Braniff Building and former India Temple Building (one of downtown’s oldest – built in 1902) on the new SandRidge Energy campus, he also couldn’t rule out that they might be torn down.
Do these structures merrit pickets similar to those that surrounded the Gold Dome?