Monday, December 19, 2011


I wasn't really planning on extrapolating on my previous criticism of Avis Scaramucci and her leadership in Bricktown, but after seeing Steve's reference to my blog last week, now I suppose I am compelled to keep it going. Instead of going as far out there to say something wildly critical of Avis, let's just pretend that I did. "There, I said it."

But in all seriousness, maybe Avis is the leader of the Bricktown Association (or emeritus?) and Bricktown Suburban Design Commission because nobody else wants these positions? That would be sad, because here you have a district that is in dire need of leadership. There is such a multitude of issues that they could be addressing, or could have already addressed. But as it stands, Bricktown stays still. For its entire life, the Bricktown Association's response to the Bricktown parking problem has been to promote the rationalization that there isn't really a parking problem. Weak on leadership.

The Suburban Design Commission, which is tasked with maintaining urban design standards for the district, could have taken proactive action on targeting abandoned buildings, attracting new developments, assisting proposed developments, and so on. Instead of proactively making a difference in building a better Bricktown, they have been consistently contributing to the wrong direction for the district. The House of Bedlam vote was just the icing on the cake. Let's talk about building demolitions, giant inflatable dragons, and more.

So, the problem isn't anything personal I have against Avis. It's that I am disappointed that this district has had bad leadership. I don't know what it's like behind the scenes in Bricktown. I don't know if there's a power struggle. I don't know if nobody wants to lead. Maybe everyone is real chummy and pleased with Avis' leadership and sees no problem with the district's stunted progress (I'd put my money on that). Either way, it doesn't matter. What matters are the results. And they just aren't there.

So make a list of Bricktown goals. You won't get to cross very many of them off, and probably not for a while, either (all the while surrounding districts are crossing off goals like they're on sale). Then make a list of Bricktown's known problems. Parking crunch. Too many surface parking lots for pay. Losing density. Slow day-time traffic. Slum lords who sit on buildings waiting for values to rise. Lack of mixed-use. And so on.

All of those problem, except lack of mixed-use (her one development really was as outstanding as it gets, to give credit where credit IS due), Avis Scaramucci has directly (through her business interests) or indirectly (through her votes) contributed to. It turns out that she exemplifies one of them. If she's not a slumlord, then I'm not a blogger.

They have no plans to renovate the Rock Island Plow Building. In fact, as Steve informed us last week, they are boarding up even more windows THIS WEEK as I am typing this out. Furthermore, they have no plans to sell--essentially they make no bones about the fact that they're waiting for "the right time to sell," as they say. This is the ultimate indictment in my opinion.

How important is this building to Bricktown? Well, how important is wood to a woodchuck? Talk about a "Bricktown Gateway" in terms of the entrance on Reno. Furthermore, this is one of the most prominent buildings that OKC Arena crowds see as they're walking between the arena and the accompanying entertainment district that is aggressively promoted to those event crowds. When we have bball tourneys, fanbases will have a HQ bar in Bricktown. And with the planned transit hub, this location is set to become even more high-profile.

Something needs to be done. But it's not going to be done any time soon. Just accept it. What can people do? Well, I hear complaining doesn't hurt. According to my poll, almost 2/3rds of observers disapprove, most vehemently, of the B(s)UDC. This is even after absorbing a flurry of pro-Bricktown votes lately, I assume a small group of people heard about this discussion on the blogs. But what else can you do?

Not a lot. This is because when the bad interests get involved in the decision-making process, effectively preempting urban planning in a district that is little more than a massive public interest (WE built that canal, not Lower Bricktown developers, not Avis Scaramucci, not the Brewers, and NOT Chris Johnson, that is OUR canal god dammit), then the system is rigged. A rigged system is a broken system.

So one thing you can NOT count on is a rigged, broken system producing solutions that will get Bricktown back on track for where it needs to be in terms of its urban development.

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