Monday, May 3, 2010

A thousand questions

So many questions, so little time. In lieu of a full post (currently working on an exhaustive retail post), I think for this week I'll just post some questions that are burning in my mind. If anyone would venture some answers, feel free.

I am afraid that if it's questionable, in "this current economy" (I disagree with that..) and in the current malaise that is private development in downtown OKC, you have to assume the worst..that each of these possible projects are negligible. I want to be wrong. Or here's a much more optimistic possibility: Maybe everyone is waiting to see what's going to happen with MAPS 3 before they put any more investment into downtown? Too much up in the air right now. There is an amazing amount of change going on, but it's virtually all public sector and instead of invigorating the private sector, the private sector seems to have taken a breather.

So here goes, no particular order:

1 Is OKC still doing anything to attract more retail? Did the ULI panel give the city some ideas? Is the city willing to subsidize a "Core to Shore boulevard" retail development?

2 Has anyone besides myself realized the demolition spree that this city is on? Multiple buildings on 10th Street, the SandRidge proposal, Bricktown Steffen Creamery bldg, and more. Now it looks like the next may be a row of shops at Classen and NW 30th. Oh and the site Bradshaw cleared at Broadway/12th. The more I think, the more examples I come up with.

3 How has first-floor leasing been going? Legacy and Park Harvey were huge successes in that regard. What about the Maywood Lofts? Chuck Ainsworth's Candy Factory project? I'm sure there's some I'm forgetting. I know there is no first-floor retail yet in the Candy Factory "Lofts" or in Maywood Lofts' spaces..

4 I'm curious what Steve Mason's been up to. He's always up to something cool.

5 The Maywood Brownstones have changed hands. So does that free Ron Bradshaw up to do some more projects? Hopefully something more economically feasible. And what does this mean for Maywood Park? Will the brownstones be finished out as originally planned? (dozens more were originally planned)

6 When I was last in Bricktown I saw a ton of site work going on around the Steel Yards project. Is that going forward, or is something else entirely going on?

7 Did the ULI knock some sense into the city, or is Mayor Mick still intent on building the convention center adjacent to the Core to Shore park? It might make or break MAPS 3. Not really, but still--why be intent on making the worst out of the top-dollar ticket item?

8 What is the deal with Chesapeake? I realize we will never find out, but it's worth speculating. So much construction equipment between Classen and the tracks, on top of several blocks that I'm guessing they cleared. They've also been clearing a half dozen apartment buildings off of Grand Blvd between Western and 63rd. There was an apartment building on 63rd in front of Nichols Hills Plaza they also just razed. No announcement from Chesapeake as usual. What is going on? We already know Whole Foods is going in where they tore down the funeral home earlier this year.

9 Ron Bradshaw (I think it was him) bulldozed that site at like.. NW 12th and Broadway. What will come of that? Another site that was bulldozed just to sit for decades? We all thought we'd see development of that site by now, no surprise--no development. Maybe something is still planned, or is he no longer developing?

10 What is going on at Saint Anthony's Hospital? I'm hearing a lot about two possible new mid-rise buildings at the hospital, including a new emergency ward--and in addition to that, I'm hearing about a group of doctors interested in building a new doctor's office building (significant midrise as opposed to lowrise from what I hear).

11 What's the deal with some of these downtown developments that you hear nothing about? Like The Carnegie. The First National Building renovations? The CityPlace Lofts (in the upper floors)? Will Lower Bricktown ever be finished (is Randy Hogan going to be 'let off' or will OCURA ever take the land back)?

12 Our friend Nicholas Preftakes... 'nuff said.

13 Are some property owners actually trying to make sure that the downtown streetcar does not go in front of their property? Words can not describe how misdirected I think such a move would be. Streetcar = good. Usually the argument against it is "I'm too cheap to pay for it," and not.. "It better stay off of my lawn!"

14 Would a downtown grocer even be successful? Crescent Market closed. The deli is still open, thankfully. People really do a lot of talking about what downtown needs and yada yada--when someone comes in are they supporting them? It's a valid question I've heard raised by many. I've asked people what businesses they think are in need of support, nobody wants to specifically name a business that's doing badly, but maybe we really do need a downtown endangered list..if it would help.

Not to be all negative, unexpected answers that have come up..

1 Is Bricktown EVER going to have some decent retail? Apparently, yes--in June. The people behind the Red Dirt Emporium are opening a "public market" type space in June that will feature a collection of local vendors with different kinds of booths. It will also hopefully act as an incubator for new retail in Bricktown, where people who make shirts or food or whatever--can start out with a booth here and then get their own store as they expand. The market will be located on the canal level of the Jackson Building in upper Bricktown--the interior will be very avant garde, very Bricktown. Can't wait to see it.

2 Will SandRidge be opposed? Yes, big-time. An awesome group has formed with the mission to "Keep Downtown Urban." Preservation Oklahoma has filed a public appeal against SandRidge Energy's plans to raze north downtown leaving only SandRidge Tower standing. Today during lunch they held a "Building Hug" ceremony downtown, gathering about 40 participants, as well as spectators and news reporters. They gave out free "Keep Downtown Urban" t-shirts as well.

3 Can development happen during this economy? Yes. Look at Paseo, look at the Plaza District--not only is there significant redevelopment going on, but these are also by far some of the highest-risk (as far as lender's are concerned) development areas of the city. Low risk development: Bricktown, or Memorial Road. High risk: Plaza District (because there aren't active precedent indicators that a project will be successful). Look at the transformation the Plaza has undergone during a bad economy, and look at the local retail tenants that have miraculously popped up. Plaza has a truly awesome retail scene in my opinion. Maybe the low expectations lent themselves to a surprisingly successful district? Maybe the ridiculously high expectations are what's problematic in Bricktown.

Think about it, OKC.

1 comment:

Derrick W. Lippert said...

i've always thought in order to give yourself a decent chance of having a successful business (restaurant, bakery, clothing store, etc) you need to own the building your store occupies. is it too expensive to find a potentially neat area buy the buildings, renovate, and put the store in? i've always hated the thought of opening a store in someone else's building and having it be successful; resulting in an increase in popularity of the area at which point the owner would decide to up the rent and essentially lowering your profit or pushing you out the door. does this happen or is there a common courtesy in the business?
i feel like i have some ideas that could be successful, i've read lots of great ideas on your blog, my friends have great ideas; however, since we don't have the amount of money needed (or the knowledge of how to get the free-be's) and banks are too scared to give us the loans the older people buy the buildings, sit on them/ force someone to pay more money than the property is worth/ open a lame store or restaurant.
someone should open an investment fund and collect money full of young professionals. you could then buy a really neat area on the outskirts of OKC (where ever you had enough money to buy several buildings along a street). if you got your money from young people they would want the project to succeed (so they could get return on investment)so they would support the area and in return bring friends.
think about it.