So what is a deadline? That’s the question I’m still asking on several fronts. Let’s just tackle one today - April 20 – the time in which Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. hopes to present to the business improvement district board a plan for renewal.
First, we must address whether this day is even a deadline. After talking to Jane Jenkins, one gets the impression it’s not a deadline, but rather a date in which she hopes to be able to present a plan and start the process of molding and shaping it for an eventual vote.
Some property owners I’ve spoken to in various districts seem to have a different impression of this date, that it sets in concrete whether an area participates and what that participation will be.
Jane Jenkins, however, says this isn’t the case – that if an area needs more time to decide whether it wants to participate, it will be allowed that extra time – though not indefinitely.
Likewise, Jenkins says that an area agreeing to be a part of the BID renewal isn’t committing yet to how much it will be assessed or how that money will be spent.
Time, however, is ticking. The consultant, Brad Segal, was hired last year shortly before Brett Hamm stepped down as president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. I was told at the time by David Rainbolt, BID board chairman, and by Segal that his continuing to work on the renewal without a DOKC president would not be a problem.
Today Jane Jenkins tells me that she’s still working very hard to get caught up with all the intricacies of downtown and the BID. She adds, however, that with her experience with other BIDs she’s not worried about the timeline ahead for the downtown OKC district to be renewed. She also adds that Segal’s contract is winding down and that is a consideration for wrapping this deal up.
So, I ask, is the consultant partially driving this process? In response I hear that DOKC is well equipped to move forward and get this wrapped up.
The district, by the way, is not up for renewal until 2011. I’ve heard questions and concerns about April 20 from prominent players in three different downtown districts. Jenkins and DOKC’s director of operations, Kathy Ford-Wallis, both say they’ve not heard any such concern or question.
So to those I’ve heard from, here’s the bottom line: Jane Jenkins said, and I repeated it to her to ensure I understood, that failure by an area to agree to participate in the renewed BID by April 20 will not translate into a decision to not participate. April 20, she says, is not a deadline and there will be no votes concerning the BID renewal at that week’s business improvement district board meeting.
The following comes from a column I wrote in 2007:
Oklahoma City and Tulsa leaders might want to look to Main Street Oklahoma for inspiration on how to attract people downtown without spending millions of dollars.
After all, small towns often have no choice but to compensate with imagination and hard work when money is scarce.
Take Okmulgee, a town of 13,000 and one of the first members of the state’s Main Street program.
The city has come a long way since it started redeveloping its Main Street.
Back in 1986, the downtown area struggled with less than 40 percent occupancy in the street level storefronts, and many of the buildings were falling apart.
Today Okmulgee officials boast occupancy in that same space is at 85 percent.
How do they pull it off?
They’re bringing people back downtown with events like the “Ghosts of Okmulgee,” which allows visitors to tour several historic properties where local actors in period costumes share tales of the city’s old west heydays.
The tours coincide with town’s annual Great West Chili Cook-Off.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, maybe Oklahoma City could look at a similar approach employing its vast, talented theatrical community.
Imagine visiting the Skirvin Hilton and listening to old man W.B. Skirvin spin tales of oil wildcatting, drunken evenings with famed architect Solomon Layton and nights when state leaders clashed in his lobby.
Maybe daughter Perle Mesta could be at his side, sharing her own tales as the “hostess with the mostest.”
A hop over to the Colcord Hotel could feature a visit with earlyday developer Charles Colcord — imagine the tales he could tell!
I have no doubt Oklahoma City has talented folks in community theater able to pull off these great roles. And if folks are willing to pay for such fun in Okmulgee, couldn’t a similar arrangement be reached in Oklahoma City, as well? Or maybe the big cities could take their cue from Sulphur, which last year hosted “Movies on the Plaza” every Saturday night. The movies kept locals in town and sparked interest in a downtown farmers’ market and school pep rallies.
Posted by Candidate_Coleman on January 6, 2009 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Jane’s energy, insight and efficacy will be missed in Downtown Boulder, I feel comfortable speaking for my board when I say we will miss you and wish you tremendous success in your new endeavor!
City of Boulder Downtown Management Commission
Posted by NukesInBoulder on January 6, 2009 at 8:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Is Oklahoma City a demotion? I really can’t tell.
Posted by meatpieandtatters on January 7, 2009 at 6:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)
During her tenure with Downtown Boulder, the 35-block area maintained a 95 percent retail occupancy rate and a 92 percent office occupancy rate, Jenkins said. Wait until the economic realities sink in. Transposing the numbers will be a more realistic indication of downtown vitality.
Posted by austinmary on January 7, 2009 at 10:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Anyone who knows or has worked with Jane knows that this is a huge loss for Boulder. Best of luck to Jane…she has contributed greatly to Boulder’s economic well-being and will be greatly missed.
Or maybe not. I’ve gotten accustomed to the negativity that sometimes goes on at www.okctalk.com, but today’s take on Jane Jenkins is just weird. I love www.okctalk.com, I think it’s a valuable site, but tell me why this discussion isn’t exhibit No. 1 on why some avoid it altogether.
The basic gist of the criticism goes like this: “Put me down as someone a little disappointed in the hiring. I too was hoping for someone coming from a larger city. No disrespect to her or to the city of Boulder.”
Translation: Isn’t she too small town for us????
Now, don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that OKC folks are thinking a lot better of themselves than they did 20 years ago. This city had a massive collective case of poor self esteem prior to MAPS and the resurgence of downtown.
But now we’re starting to sound like Mack Brown, and that’s just not good.
So let’s back up a second and pick apart what’s being said at www.okctalk.com:
- Jane Jenkins Main Street experience isn’t that meaningful (that’s what I drew from the comments) because she worked in small towns. OK, wake up folks! As someone who has visited dozens of Main Street programs, I can tell you that this is what it’s all about. And I’ve seen plenty of examples of progressive downtown development and promotions in small Main Street downtowns that blow away anything being done in Oklahoma City.
- Denton is nothing more than Baja Oklahoma. Um, OK. It’s also a city of more than 100,000 that has had to find a way to establish its own identity in the shadow of Dallas. Um yeah, nothing to learn from that bit of experience either.
- Jane Jenkins was regional director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Oops, folks at OKC Talk aren’t talking about this one. I guess they’re not interested in what experience Jenkins might have from this gig that could help in the development of Bricktown, MidTown and the Film District. Nah, she won’t know of grants and obscure funding that can help in old building renovations. She won’t know how to inspire reluctant property owners to take a risk on restoration projects … (sarcasm alert!)
- Jane Jenkins stint in Boulder, Colorado doesn’t qualify her for OKC – Boulder is just a small resort town. Um, yeah… it’s got an MSA population of more than 200,000 and a bustling retail district downtown. Jenkins just oversaw renewal of the downtown business improvement district – a task now underway in OKC, and also worked with the city’s tax increment finance district.
- Jane Jenkins is in her second year term as chair of the International Downtown Association. Nope, this one isn’t getting much mention at OKC Talk either. Here’s a brief description of the IDA from its website:
Founded in 1954, the International Downtown Association has more than 650 member organizations worldwide including: North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Through our network of committed individuals, rich body of knowledge and unique capacity to nurture community-building partnerships, IDA is a guiding force in creating healthy and dynamic centers that anchor the well being of towns, cities and regions of the world.
TRANSLATION: Someone who is serving two years as chair of the IDA has had to have been very involved with the group, its seminars, membership and mission. I can’t imagine a person achieving this position without some serious networking, and of course, through that they would have some great exposure to what’s going on in downtowns throughout the world. But to hear the take of posters at OKC Talk (and also some commenters at NewsOK), apparently all of this experience is pretty insignificant.
Sure, if you say so.
Final note: I don’t know Jane Jenkins other by reputation. I’ve spoken to several people over the past few weeks who do know her, and they are unanimous in their praise. I’ve been told we can expect great things ahead – if this city is ready to listen to new ideas.
Back in October I mused how many people who were clearly not qualified to take over the president’s job at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. were interested in applying for the job. As part of that post, I listed the following quiz for interested parties:
1. What is a BID? How are BIDs being used differently in other cities?
2. What is a TIF? How are TIFs being used differently in other cities?
3. Explain how it might be difficult finding office space downtown for a large company if the vacancy rate is still more than 20 percent?
4. What is a “streetscape?” Do you consider Automobile Alley to be a successful example of a “streetscape”? If so, why?
5. How close should ties be between the Greater OKC Chamber and Downtown OKC Inc? What dangers, if any, are posed by those ties becoming too close?
6. What are the “Four Points” taught with the country’s Main Street organizations? How can they be implemented in downtown Oklahoma City?
7. What is the role of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority downtown for the next 20 years?
8. How would you address the challenges being faced by downtown’s urban design committees? Or do you think that the recent exclusing of most of downtown’s architects from committee membership is not that big a deal?
9. How do you bring retail back downtown? Is there a danger of having too many restaurants and clubs in Bricktown? Should there be a moratorium on budget hotels?
10. Why do you think downtown will be better off if you’re in one of the most visible, important jobs tasked with continuing its resurgence?
Downtown OKC’s board of directors have finally made their hire. Is Jane Jenkins familiar with the IDA? Oh yeah… she’s the current chair. She also just oversaw the renewal of the BID in downtown Boulder, Colorado, has worked with a TIF, worked with two Main Street programs in Oklahoma and also was a regional director with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
This ought to be very, very, very interesting.
This morning’s Main Street column discussed the changes that have taken place with the Bricktown Association and how they might be considered by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. as it looks for a new president.
The following question was posted at the end of the column at www.newsok.com:
This story makes no sense, Steve. Are you suggesting that Downtown OKC’s directors acted inappropriately in making these selections without advertising the vacancy? Which directors: Fred Hall, Larry Nichols, or Clay Bennett? Your article suggests that Downtown OKC’s presidents were hampered by not having participated in an interview process. Which president should have been more fully interviewed prior to hiring: Devery Youngblood, Dave Lopez, or Brett Hamm? Finally, is the Bricktown Association really the model organization that Downtown OKC should emulate? Jim Cowan’s served as Executive Director for less than two years. His success as a Bricktown restaurant owner was marginal. Did he even pay his Bricktown Association membership dues the last two years that he owned the Bricktown Brewery?) His success as the new Executive Director is questionable. (When is the last time the Board of Directors or Association Members have been provided updated financials?) You’re still one of the best reporters at the Oklahoman, Steve, but this article was not well thought out. The next time you’re searching for a story to write, how about revisiting the proposed parking lot agreement that you’ve very generously attributed to Jim Cowan. What’s the status of that agreement? Has Mr. Cowan convinced Bricktown’s largest parking lot operator, Jim Brewer, to sign it yet?
John, Oklahoma City - Sep 9, 2008 10:08 AM
I figured not everyone would like what I wrote. I also expected to hear from “John” (I’ll let him or others provide his full identity). I’ll try to answer this series of questions as best as I can (they’re asked as if they were crafted by a great legal mind). And be warned John, I’m not willing to get into an online flame war here, and my tolerance for anonymous personal attacks on this blog is very limited. That having been said, some of these are good questions, so let’s get into it.
Q: Are you suggesting that Downtown OKC’s directors acted inappropriately in making these selections without advertising the vacancy? Which directors: Fred Hall, Larry Nichols, or Clay Bennett?
A: No. “Inappropriately” is a pretty loaded word, and it’s not one I’ve used or would use. An organization is free ot hire people with or without advertising the opening or comparing qualified candidates. But from all that I heard and observed the past two years, the fact Hamm was hired without any apparent consideration of other potential applicants dogged him from the start with various parties downtown.
Q: Your article suggests that Downtown OKC’s presidents were hampered by not having participated in an interview process. Which president should have been more fully interviewed prior to hiring: Devery Youngblood, Dave Lopez, or Brett Hamm?
A: See above.
Q: Finally, is the Bricktown Association really the model organization that Downtown OKC should emulate?
A: If one is looking to see how to steady an organization and gain credibility with a commuity of various interests, why not?
Q: Jim Cowan’s served as Executive Director for less than two years. His success as a Bricktown restaurant owner was marginal. Did he even pay his Bricktown Association membership dues the last two years that he owned the Bricktown Brewery?
A: Jim Cowan was upfront when he took the job that he was selling the Brewery and that he was doing so because it needed a new direction and wasn’t doing as well as it once had. That having been said, former Bricktown Association director Frank Sims almost always had high praise for Cowan’s leadership among merchants. And the Bricktown Brewery was a major music venue and destination eatery during much of Cowan’s tenure until it began to fade several years ago. New owners have done what Cowan admitted he could no longer do – bring in a new menu, fix up the old place, and give it a fresh start. Cowan also did what dozens of restaurant owners could not do in Bricktown – maintain a business for more than a decade and ensure its survival through the sale to new owners. Yes, Cowan admits he did not pay dues the final two years because of business hardships. But can one deny he invested more time and energy in the association than many who did? And how many members were delinquent during the final year of Frank Sims’ tenure? Frank is widely regarded as having contributed greatly toward promoting Bricktown as a destination. But I’ve been told by past and current leaders of the association that dues always ebb and flow with the district’s overall success or failure.
Q: When is the last time the Board of Directors or Association Members have been provided updated financials?
A: I just called Jim Cowan – he reports June financials are available and July and August financials will be out this next month. It’s up to you and others to decide if this is the deciding factor on whether Cowan has been an effective leader.
Q: how about revisiting the proposed parking lot agreement that you’ve very generously attributed to Jim Cowan. What’s the status of that agreement? Has Mr. Cowan convinced Bricktown’s largest parking lot operator, Jim Brewer, to sign it yet?
A: I’m not sure I know what agreement is waiting to be signed. Brewer and a majority of parking operators agreed verbally and publicly to cap their rates at $10 for special events and $5 on non-event nights. So far, I’ve yet to catch him violating that promise (if I do, I’ll tell you the readers of this blog). Jim Brewer has complained plenty about my stories on his parking operations and some readers have complained I’ve spent too much time reporting on this matter. Not sure how else to answer this.
Chaos at Couch Park/Kerr Park today as storms destroyed nine tents set up for the first Farmers’ Market of the season. Photos provided by Downtown OKC Inc.
So, yes, it was a rough day out there today. Since the downtown Farmers Market was started a couple of years ago, its had the bad luck of being hit with drought or crazy storms. But the folks at OSU-OKC are dedicated to making Farmers Market a part of downtown’s revival, and I’m told they’ll be back next week. So, assuming the weather doesn’t go nuts next week, wouldn’t it be nice if the market were shown a huge vote of support next week with large crowds?
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.
The Underground. Oklahoman Archives
From Kim Searls at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.:
The new installation Four Letter Word L*O*V*E will feature an exhibition of Mail Art from around the world. Please join us for a lunch time opening reception
Thursday, February 14th at 12PM Invited Artist Gallery, in the Underground Downtown OKC.
The Invited Artist Gallery, located in the Downtown Oklahoma City Underground Tunnels, hosts quarterly exhibitions curated by art professionals in Oklahoma. Four Letter Word: L*O*V*E* is curated by Sarah Hearn.
This exhibition will showcase a type of artwork rarely seen in Oklahoma and encourages local participation in an international network. What is mail art? Mail art is simply any original work of art sent through the postal system. This movement gained momentum in the 1950’s and has a rich history dating back to the early 1800’s. Although many well-known artists have participated in the movement, critics and collectors often overlook mail art. This is probably because to be a recipient of mail art, one must also send it!
Regular Underground and Gallery hours are 6 am- 8 pm, Monday through Friday. The Gallery is located in the The Underground beneath Robinson Ave and Robert S. Kerr. Enter through Broadway-Kerr Parking Garage or Leadership Square. The exhibition remains on display through April 4 For more information call 235-3500.
Devon Energy and Downtown OKC, Inc. have joined in a unique partnership to feature many of the state’s finest artists through a series of rotating exhibits in a one-of-a-kind space in downtown.
Devon has contributed $50,000 to assist Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. with promotions of eight curated shows and art openings over a two-year period.