I’m always grateful that with news holes (space for story copy) so tight in newspapers around the country, I’m still able to get some in-depth coverage to you the readers. Such was the case today with my story on Film Row - except that renderings I really wanted to share with you didn’t make the cut in print, or apparently, online.
So without any further delay, here’s a look at what’s coming up:
David Morris definitely has the advantage over me in that he doesn’t have kids – so I regret not getting to the Block Party Friday night. Looks like it was a blast.
To see more of Dave’s videos, visit his blog at http://blog.newsok.com/davemorris/
Bradley Wynn is hoping to get some assistance from the public in capturing the history of old Film Row on, go figure, film (photos will suffice).
This area has an incredible history as one of the country’s regional film distribution hubs in the days when film cannisters had to be transported by train for screenings at theaters. Most of the major studios had Art Deco branches along W Sheridan (then Grand Avenue). The big names included Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and RKO. The advent of jet travel, television, changes in film distribution spelled an end to these districts. Oklahoma City, I’m told, has the the last surviving example of what was once a circuit of 36 film districts.
For the past 40 years the area has been known as skid row, but it’s changing with increasing speed as homeless missions move further west of downtown and owners are renovating their buildings and creative firms are moving in. To get a summary of what’s going on, go here.
If you can help Bradley, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At first I was feeling a bit guilty about my sporadic blogging this week. But then I saw the lively discussion underway on my last post about Core to Shore and realized, “hey, these folks do just fine without me. Uh-oh…”
Nope, not feeling guilty. But that odd quirk of mine, which someone described as “an odd obsession with staying employed” kicked in.
So OK, I’m back.
Truth is I tackled more than I could chew with Millenium Park. So let’s just summarize it by saying it’s an incredibly ambitious mix of entertainment venues, public art and community space. It’s amazing, and it speaks volumes that this is what is in Mayor Mick Cornett’s head as he talks about the potential for a new city center park in Core to Shore.
Today I got a last minute invite to a discussion of the future for Film Row. It’s amazing how far this area has come in just a couple of years. What was an area dominated by misfit property owners has matured into an enthusiastic alliance of property owners who have all come to appreciate that this could very well be downtown’s next hot spot.
Not hurting their momentum, I’m sure, is a streetscape about to start this summer and the proximity of the new Devon tower.
Oh, by the way, I was visiting with folks at Devon today. I could name drop,but I won’t. But I see nothing indicating this project is slowing down at all. It’s still happening.
I know a lot more than I did yesterday. I’ll do my best to share as much of it with you as soon as possible.
One final, unrelated note: “Major snow storm this weekend.” Really? Really?
For those who follow this blog and my column, you know I’ve written qutie a bit about the potential of a School of Rock making the old Fred Jones Ford factory its long-term future home. But like many people, I got tripped up on whether to refer to the area as Film Row or the Film Exchange. Developer Chip Fudge recently wrote and offered the following bit of education on the area:
Thank you for all of the recent press regarding the Film Exchange District and Historic Film Row.We love the idea of UCO’s collaboration for the “School of Rock”.
I believe Roger Webb and Scott Booker have a very forward thinking vision for this type of public/private partnership and it will be great for our community.
It dawned on me that we have done a poor job of explaining the difference between “The Film Exchange District” and “Historic Film Row”. The District is shaped like a piano (see attachment in orange) and borders Classen on the West, Hudson and Walker on the East, the Arts District on the North and the new I-40/Boulevard on the South. It encompasses a much larger area than Film Row.
“Historic Film Row” refers to the two block area on the 600 and 700 blocks of Sheridan extending North and South from California to Main. “Historic Film Row” is the specific area that was placed on the National Historic Register last year with a great deal of help from the State Historic Preservation office and the documented historical significance by local designer David Wanzer. Historic Film Row was the home of various movie houses: 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, M-G-M Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Republic Pictures, RKO Radio Pictures, United Artists, Universal Pictures, and Warner Brothers. They used these properties to screen the new films and exchange or distribute them to regional theaters.
Besides the great historic buildings in our District, the area comes with a variety of tax incentives for owners and developers, new market tax credits, state and federal rehabilitation tax credits for historically significant properties, and many employee related tax incentives for companies that relocate to our District.
I am sending this email to Fred and Kirk Hall, along with your article from December 2nd, so that they are in the loop. Feel free to use any or all of this information in any future articles as you wish.
Finally, this project would not have progressed to this point without all of the help from the City of Oklahoma City, specifically Robbie Kienzle, Brent Bryant, Cathy O’Connor, Ann Simank, and many others. As we have discussed in the past, I do not consider myself much of a developer. I have a day job that keeps me busy.
I like to put back together older properties for fun and sometimes for profit. One added benefit has been the education I have received about our homeless issue. I had the opportunity to serve on the Mayor’s “Homeless Task Force” committee and we have great communication with Tom Jones of City Rescue, Dan Straughan of the Homeless Alliance, and now Tim Ulrich of the Refuge Oklahoma City Mission. The Hart building and parking lots will be the anchor of the West end of our District, directly across the street from City Rescue. The bottom line, we are comfortable with our office next to the homeless shelters.
Thanks again for your support. I know we both have a love of the rich history of the great historic buildings in our community. I will keep you posted on all future progress.
Sincerely, John M. “Chip” Fudge
Businessman, Part-time Developer
Let’s begin with one point to make clear: nobody is suggesting that the Academy of Contemporary Music being launched by UCO in cooperation with the London-based academy should open anywhere but in Bricktown. It’s set to open next year in Bricktown’s Oklahoma Hardware Building. This discussion is about a permanent, long-time home for the school once it outgrows Bricktown, which is expected to happen.
Film Row is a popular target amongst downtown advocates. The competition? The empty Lincoln Plaza Hotel at NW 45th and Lincoln, shown above. The property is self-contained and is part of no community other than a sprawling state bureaucracy that fills up the remainder of the Lincoln Boulevard corridor. AND TO BE CLEAR, THIS PROPERTY IS NOT MY SUGGESTION – ITS BEING CONSIDERED BY PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH THE PROJECT.