I’m still reeling from the news that Cathy Rigby is STILL performing as Peter Pan …
So despite that and other stories getting your interest this week, let’s recap, shall we?
We’re getting a good glimpse of what’s to come downtown, and if it all comes true, then we’re looking an office market far more vibrant than its been the past 30 years.
When you read my coverage in the Sunday Oklahoman about Devon, you’ll learn more than 2,000 people will be moving into Devon Energy Center when it opens in 2012. We also know from today’s coverage that SandRidge Energy is looking at an expansion of its downtown workforce that will bring the total to 2,000 in five years, and that it will be building a second tower equal in size to its current 29-story tower.
Contemplate that for a moment. Also add into this equation that Continental Resources is looking at employing about 750 people by 2014 as it completes its move to Devon’s current headquarters at Broadway and Sheridan. And have no doubt, Continental is growing. Don’t be surprised if that 750 figure is low – very low.
Also remember that construction will be starting this winter on an 11-story Hilton Garden Inn in Bricktown. And of course the city is very intent on getting a conference hotel built in conjunction with the new convention center. Doing quick math and considering the foot print, this hotel will definitely go vertical Let’s assume it’s the same sort of footprint as the Renaissance Hotel. Add more amenities into the mix, and double the room count, and it’s easy to see it going up 20 stories or higher.
Still with me?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the skyline isn’t finished yet. And I expect even more yet to be announced. In the meantime, enjoy this latest time lapse video of Devon Energy Center by OKC Central contributor Will Hider.
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…
Those who have watched the convention center selection process with a skeptical eye may be intrigued with the names being submitted by Mayor Mick Cornett for a subcommittee of the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board tasked to determine the best location.
The chair and vice chair are both from the board itself – Tom McDaniel and Susan Hooper. Also on the committee are Kirk Humphreys, Avis Scaramucci, Russell Perry, Larry Nichols, Roy Williams, Mike Carrier and John D. Williams.
The committee picks certainly assure a diversity of views going into the site discussion. John D. Williams is general manager of the Skirvin. Nichols is executive chairman of Devon Energy. Carrier is president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Roy Williams (Carrier’s boss) is president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. Humphreys preceded Cornett as mayor. Scaramucci is chairwoman of the Bricktown Association. McDaniel is the retired president of Oklahoma City University. Hooper is a self-employed education consultant.
This committee includes voices very critical of and fiercely committed to Cornett’s favored site south of Ford Center. The appointments follow months of behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade Cornett to create a process that ensures the site selection would be open and not just fixed to favor the south of Ford Center site, which critics argue is too far away from downtown hotels and Bricktown.
The news goes on friends. I’ll be watching every property transaction in Core to Shore, and I’ll still be asking questions. And this goes out to one person in particular… I hope you have a very good day today.
On February 17 I posted the following:
So is there really going to be an open and unbiased look at where to build the convention center? As I pursue this question, let’s look back at what we were told during the campaign. First up, a video and quote from Mayor Mick Cornett at an Oct. 21, 2009 “Breaking Through” luncheon:
We have a really good site picked out in Core to Shore planning. Put it on the boulevard, right next to the park. We’re going to continue to revisit the site because this is a pretty big decision. I want to make sure we have a strong concensus in the community that this is the best site. But the things to keep in mind is where are the hotels, where is bricktown? Do not get too far away from either of those two entities. I think the current site addresses that adequately. But there are other sites we can consider and we’ll do that on the other side of the vote if it’s successful.
See video below:
Now, after watching this and hearing this, it appears that we have two messages that came out: yeah, the mayor had a favored location, but he was promising it wasn’t a done deal.
In case there’s any confusion over this, let’s look at what was reported in the Oct. 21, 2009 Gazette:
Regarding the convention center’s exact location, Williams said four possible sites are being considered: south of the existing Ford Center, at Producers Cooperative Oil Mill facility, the lumberyard north of that facility or the Deep Deuce area north of Bricktown.
Cornett said the community will have input in public discussions for all potential sites if MAPS 3 is approved.
Will there be a real discussion of where the convention center will be built? And what will that discussion be?
Marsh Pitman, who developed the Bricktown garage and Hampton Inn, posted this comment in the Convention Center Report post thread:
There is no rational reason to put the convention center on the park. I think the city has decided if they don’t put it there, nothing will develop there for years to come.
Proximity to hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other entertainment should serve as the criteria for selecting a convention center site. Period. We should not simply consider what is best for convention business, but consider what is best for the City as a whole.
After reading the HOK Convention Site Study, it is clear that there are only two sites worth considering. The #1 ranked site on the Lumberyard south of Bricktown and the #2 ranked site on East Main Street north of Bricktown. While the Lumberyard site might be better from a purely convention business perspective, the East Main Street site, with improved proximity to the CBD and existing hotels, including the Skirvin, might be the better choice from the OKC community’s perspective.
Have a look for yourself and see what you think. Here is the HOK Study obtained from the City: HOK Convention Center Site Study – January 2008