I am thinking more and more lately that Core2Shore needs to be scrapped. Not even pursued. Not a dime spent in that direction, even though it's too late..
These are the reasons: Yes, it would be nice to have a model contemporary, urban city. Yes, C2S is a neat opportunity to build that. However, I don't trust OKC to build that. I don't trust OKC to turn what is essentially brownfield into a model urban city.
The urban boulevard would have been nice.
The urban central park would have been nice.
The convention center located across the tracks would have been nice.
The urban waterfront would have been nice.
All of these things and more would have been nice.
All of them are being screwed up. Either there is a grand conspiracy to prevent urban from ever happening, or this city is simply clueless when it comes to building urban things.
Consider the boulevard. It's not going to be anything close to a model urban boulevard. The city is insisting that someone other than the city pay for it, and that means ODOT--so it's going to meet their specifications for new roads. It will have super-wide lanes, 6 or 8 lanes, and it will have pedestrian tunnels and bridges encircling it in every direction. Not people-friendly at the street level. The boulevard is already going to be a cluster, there is nothing that can happen at this point to mitigate that. The plan for that is already set in stone. The city could tell ODOT last minute to drop the project and the city could pursue it on its own, and build a much simpler boulevard on its own, but that isn't going to happen.
Consider the central park. This last week the council voted to do a new pedestrian TUNNEL underneath Robinson, presumably, between the convention center (the site the mayor is HELLBENT on) and the central park. First, I was bracing for the impact of the park just being a front lawn for the convention center. I had no idea they would take that even further and have tunnels leading from the front door of the convention center to practically the middle of the park. That is turning out to be a nightmare worse than I would have ever imagined. You don't even at least have to cross the street there. Oy veigh...
What is wrong with crossing the street? Why do we need all these pedestrian tunnels and bridges? Are we planning for some alternative future universe where humans will no longer be born with 2 legs that work?? Unless we're trying to get people across I-40 or across the tracks, that seems totally worthless and unneeded. Why are we spending money on that? Ugh.
What is wrong with simple 4-lane boulevards (2 in each direction) with a wide landscaped median or something? That would cost a fraction of what this street-level superhighway that meets ODOT specs is going to cost. It would be less of an urban nightmare, as well.
This city does not need Core2Shore. It doesn't need anywhere new to build a park and a convention center, even though the park is already being built. It doesn't need any more available land downtown. Downtown already has a huge inventory of vacant lots and abandoned buildings that aren't close to finding uses. I am scared at what OKC is going to end up building in C2S.
And I'll tell you how this will end up: It will just be a continuation of the superblock cluster. There will be virtually zero mixed-use development around the park or anywhere in Core2Shore. It will be parking enterprises and low-impact development like maybe a few restaurants and maybe a convenience store. It will have all these super-wide streets and million-dollar infrastructure pieces that nobody uses unless there is a big convention or a big event in the park. It will be absolutely dead. It will feel like an expensive, government-built ghost town. It will go down in history as the biggest urban renewal folly since the 1970s, anywhere. It will absolutely fail to attract private investment because people will not want to go there. Everything in it will probably be named after Mayor Cornett.
That's not a legacy I would want. Perhaps it is absolutely for the best that the MAPS3 Convention Center Subcommittee decided to scrap the two C2S sites from consideration. I would much rather see what they can do within the context of an existing area, which will at the very least put limitations on the project. More limitations are what we need as long as somebody very high up is listening to morons who know nothing about urban planning.