I think the City Beautiful, which lasted roughly from 1900 to 1930, left an indelible imprint on American cities. The great architecture of that period includes railroad stations, libraries, civic centers, and urban universities. The period 1950-1970, the era of urban renewal, was a disaster that left nothing but mistakes, some of which we are still undoing. 1970-2010 has been the age of repair, conservation, and development. I’m not sure it will be remembered as a high point, rather it is a transition.
Looks like these buildings are now history. It’s not that we weren’t warned that these buildings, built in the 1920s, were being targeted for extinction. Owners tried twice to get permission to tear them down as the area’s Asian community continues to erect concrete block retail strips with cute nods to the area’s emphasis on Asian design.
On the second go-around, with the local preservation community sidelined, exhausted from their unsuccessful fight with SandRidge Energy over its demolition plans, the owners of this strip succeeded in winning approval for demolition.
On Twitter, some on are asking… was this really an accidental fire? That’s a question that awaits the fire department now. Meanwhile, let’s look back at what this block looked like. Were there really no development options with this? Sit back and discuss.
Lot’s of miscellaneous items today.
Item No. 1
The above signage ought to go a long way in promoting tenants in Lower Bricktown. But the question remains – if signage like this is ok in upper Bricktown, which enjoys the advantage of free parking and one sane owner and developer, than why can’t one be used to promote the restaurants and retailers along the Bricktown Canal north of Reno Avenue?
Item No. 2
Devon released renderings about a year ago for the auditorium that will be built at the corner of Hudson and Sheridan. Sometimes it’s the finer details that prove to be interesting. From the rendering submitted recently to design review it would appear that architect Jon Pickard is once again nodding to a bit of downtown’s Art Deco heritage by going with the sort of lettering for the auditorium entry that, at first glance, hearkens to the Civic Center and First National Tower.
Speaking of Devon tower (which we now know will be referred to as Devon Energy Center), here’s the latest view from the OKC Skyline cam at www.newsok.com/okcskyline:
Item No. 3
Final thoughts…. seems as if the dream scenario of a real local station being allowed to exist in this market is was just that – a dream, albeit one enjoyed for real for little more than a year at 105.3 FM. The corporate types have done what they do, and now the real Spy can only be found at www.thespyfm.com. I’m not sure what the corporate folks are thinking, but in the age of the Internet they won’t fool followers of Ferris O’Brien for long. They will abandon the radio station and follow him to his online station. This begs the question though – can Ferris pull it off online only?
Here’s my thought – and from what I learned today, it’s something that’s been talked about: move The Spy to The Oklahoma Hardware Building in Bricktown, home to the increasingly awesome and inspiring ACM@UCO. Ferris would be attached to some of the city’s best aspiring musicians and might even have an “in” on doing live broadcasts of masters classes guests (Jackson Brown was the latest visitor, with prior guests including Roger Daltrey). Imagine a lecture given by Chris Martin going over live…
“For the public works department, it may be a 180 to an extent. They have been instructed for as long as I can remember that their job was to get cars from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Now, with these streets, we are asking for people to come before cars.” – Mayor Mick Cornett, discussing Project 180 in the Nov. 27 issue of The Oklahoman.
QUESTION: Would it be acceptable to have a fenced grate in the middle of a street? If not, and if pedestrian access is now to be given equal (or better) footing with vehicular access, than why is this an acceptable sidewalk?
Ah, what twists and turns can occur when questions are asked. If you read today’s Main Street column, you know that as of yesterday the city wasn’t even so sure anymore who was responsible for the NE 2 sidewalk.
Well, today we now know the answer – it’s the city that did this, not a utility.
Speaking to Debbie Regan in the city’s water department, I learned that the grate covers a water meter. Apparently the water meter was installed as the adjoining 2nd Street Lofts were being built. Regan says the contract changed the plans for the underground garage construction, causing the meter to be at a level where the grate had to be raised higher than the sidewalk.
I asked – why can’t the meter be lowered or moved? She responded the meter was installed first, and the contractor caused the situation. I asked if the average pedestrian really cares as to how this happened. Is it impossible to move the meter and fix this sidewalk? She again responded the contractor was to blame – an answer, quite frankly, I doubt makes a difference to most of you.
So now Ragan is looking into whether it is or is not possible for the meter to be moved. My question remains the same: in the post Jeff Speck era, is this acceptable? Is this something that would be permitted in front of Devon tower or City Hall? If not, why is it acceptable on NE 2?
By the way, YOU PAID FOR THIS. This was part of a Tax Increment Financing district project.
So the city says this sidewalk meets ADA. It seemed hard to believe … but … yes, it does seem to meet the letter of the law. But does it meet the spirit of the law? And more importantly, the question still stands – would this sidewalk be acceptable in front of City Hall or the new Devon tower? Would this be acceptable in front of your house? In front of the mayor’s house? Would this be acceptable in front of your office?
Originally home of the Oklahoma City Savings & Loan, this building at the corner of Robert S. Kerr and Robinson was built in 1928 and was within weeks of being renovated into condominiums by the Triangle group when Kerr-McGee was acquired by Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum in 2006 and the deal was scuttled.
Here’s a photo of the building’s early appearance:
The building is one of five structures being torn down by SandRidge Energy to make way for a landscaped plaza. A sixth building at 120 Robert S. Kerr will be torn down as well and replaced with a new building.
Expect the old bank building to be history within just a few days, if not sooner.
It was a year ago that I first met “big twin” and “little twin” and learned about their vision for Big Truck Tacos at NW 23 and Dewey. They had originally looked at a small diner on Hudson across from the Sieber Hotel. Thank goodness the owner was asking for $1,500 a month (way too much according to many). The place wouldn’t have been big enough. The ladies instead chose an old hamburger stand, which had gone thorugh quite a demise and was last a donut shop (I think) before going dark for quite a while.
They did a top notch overhaul of the old place, and introduced life to NW 23 by daring to add outdoor seating. Some might have thought the ladies nuts for taking such a chance – NW 23 is a busy street and Oklahoma City isn’t exactly know for alfresco dining. The first week proved those outdoor seats were needed. Lines streamed out of the doors as a wildly successful social media campaign had Big Truck Tacos being talked about all over town.
This restaurant on NW 23 – “headquarters” – was supposed to be a secondary operation to the truck, but has ended up being just as much the superstar. Now don’t get me wrong – the truck is wildly anticipated whereever it goes. But one has to wonder whether this operation would have been as successful if it had opened up in a shopping center at Memorial and MacArthur. The food is great. The ladies and their crew are originals.
But is there a magic in the location? Is there a charm to this odd old building brought back to life? Do people like to congregate where they see a comeback story in the making? What role does classic architecture and a vintage urban frontage play in attracting people back to the urban core?