View Full Version : Bricktown Report Card: Needs improvement

10-09-2007, 07:06 AM
Readers ask where the pride has gone

By Steve Lackmeyer

Devon Energy doesn't own any property in Bricktown, but that didn't stop the company from donating $100,000 toward an 800-square-foot mosaic mural that now graces the Bricktown Canal. So why can't some Bricktown property owners take the same sort of pride in their own neighborhood? That's the question that remains unanswered as readers share their feelings about the state's premier downtown entertainment district. "The broken windows and old plywood along the canal make me ill, Merl Goosen wrote. "That block on the north side doesn't look any better than the day the canal opened. When I have visitors from out of state, I drive by, but intentionally do not walk the canal except for the southern part (Lower Bricktown). Goosen questions whether greed is holding back development of the canal, and suggests that property owners lend their empty storefronts along the canal to local museums for displays that might convince visitors to see more of Oklahoma City.

Tony Garcia is troubled by the Residence Inn that opened earlier this year in Lower Bricktown. "While it is a nice hotel, it looks like a hotel one would find on the highway, rather than in a historic district, Garcia wrote. "The lime green roof is really awful and looks like something from the 1970s. Garcia wonders if that roof can be painted dark gray "so it does not stand out like a sore thumb. He's also curious as to why some buildings along the Bricktown Canal have had broken windows for years, even though city codes require such windows to be repaired.
"It's another example of an Oklahoma City failing, Wilson said. "We do great things but forget the finishing touches that make a city look really great.

Several readers commented on a story published last week about criticisms leveled at John Q. Hammons Hotels and others involved in operations at downtown's Cox Convention Center. Weatherford resident Don King is among those swearing never to return to the convention center after two visits with student organizations. "The dinner at the Cox Center was listed as lasagna, but it was a red blob on a plate, King said. "We thought it was because they didn't want young people. The adults were treated to breakfast at the Sheraton while we were eating, the staff removed our plates and cups. We left early.

So, should such complaints damper celebration of downtown's renaissance and ongoing development? Visiting with downtown leaders, one gets the impression they know more needs to be done. They've been meeting to prepare for the arrival of thousands of people from across the state for Sunday's Centennial Parade. But as Wilson notes, amid great accomplishments including the mural along the canal the small details can really detract from the overall presentation. So the question remains, when will some of Bricktown's most prominent property owners fix their broken windows and can the city do what it takes to ensure visitors will leave with the best possible image of downtown Oklahoma City?

10-09-2007, 07:13 AM
FYI...there is a Bricktown discussion thread on this forum.

10-09-2007, 08:58 AM
I'll make some points to each side of the post.

I'll totally agree that the groups in Bricktown need to do a better job of existing as a community rather than a collection of individual businesses. Hopefully they realize that they are all part of the same entity and that they must work together to make the area survive.

However, I don't think we can expect the current tenants to take care of the unused properties. The building just north of Reno has been vacant the whole time and hasn't made any progress other than as a parking lot. But I don't think Zio's should have to pay to get a building going that will house competition. It's sort of a hazy area.

The city DOES need to get on enforcing their own codes though. Granted the area was thrust into the light so many of the buildings are probably still owned by the same people that had them 30 years ago when they were just a bunch of crappy warehouses.

As for the student group, it's unfortunate that they had a bad experience, but I don't think that is a normal occurance. It can be down to the specific staff that was working the day they had that meal, so don't blame the whole thing on a couple of low wage workers.

The whole point, don't lose sight of where we are and where we still need to go. We can't get lax just because we've dont so much....we've got a long way to go still!!!

10-09-2007, 09:37 AM
The point about the Residence Inn, etc. is well taken. OKC needs to stop settling for mediocre development.

10-09-2007, 11:26 AM
Kudos to Steve Lackmeyer. He's been running these articles for a while asking some tough questions.

Back in the early 90s when we passed maps and it took so long for things to get started in B'town I figured it was just OKC as usual and didn't get my hopes up. But then things started to happen toward the end of the decade and I thought maybe OKC is changing the way it does business but here we are again shooting ourselves in the foot. Yes, I remember where we came from and it has been a great stride, but I hate seeing these great opportunties slip through our fingers because we accept mediocrity instead of striving for greatness.

10-09-2007, 12:03 PM
Someday, someone will come in and fix Hogan's mess (Lower Bricktown). When Core to Shore is finished, Lower Brickown will look so out of place. We can hope that the city uses it as motivation on placing minimum guidelines for projects of this type. It looks like they are doing that with future projects, but we will see.

10-09-2007, 03:00 PM
That is if the city doesn't screw up Core to Shore.

10-10-2007, 12:53 PM
It will be interesting to watch. The hope is that they put enough guidelines in place in regards to materials, building height, amount of ground level retail required, etc., that even if they pick their buddies to do the job, they can't ef it up to bad.

10-10-2007, 01:31 PM
I worry about Core To Shore to be honest. I am concerned about the very thing Lackmeyer wrote about in his article. When excitement and attention shifts to C2S, what about Bricktown? His points about the vacant storefronts along the canal are so true. It can be embarrassing to think people take those rides and see all of that. In some ways, I'm sure LB looks nicer than historic Bricktown to some visitors who don't catch our urban vision.

10-10-2007, 04:00 PM
The irony to me is that so often the areas that look the worst have gotten them most high profile improvements from the public. There is NO reason that every storefront on the canal should not be occupied. California street was WORTHLESS before the canal was put in. The city comes in and triples your property value and you board it up because you can't get some national chain to occupy the space. Seriously, WTF is that?

John Q Hammonds was given one of the biggest gifts the city has ever given to any hotel developer and his organization can't freakin cater a decent meal?

Hogan gets to develop a piece of land that was practically a dumping ground before the city built the canal, and commissioned a large piece of art work to place nearby. What does he do? He puts down mostly surface parking and pads the land out, so that it ends up being spread very thin and disjointed, making it not even a shadow of what it could have been.

It seems to me that OKC's problem is not so much the deals it makes it's who it makes them with. Then, once the deal is made, they are so timid and gutless, that they don't protect our investments and get pushed around by the developer, granting compromise after compromise and delay after delay.

Then we do everything in our power to stall or stave off some major developments along the way. I know the popular refrain, especially among the city establishment, that it is “better than it used to be”. But even that is revealing in terms of how most know all too well what could have been, sometimes by just by visiting smaller markets that have been better managed. MAPS was great in bringing in the big ticket items and upgrading our current downtown infrastructure, but the people we have signed on to develop the satellite projects continually and inexplicably disrespected the city with their efforts.

10-10-2007, 05:21 PM
I am surprised that so many people are unhappy with LB. Sure it is not historic looking buildings like UB but from what I understand there was nothing there before but a dump right? I am personally more embarrassed by taking visitors to the dilapidated buildings with busted out windows and such than I will ever be taking them past a green roofed building.

10-13-2007, 10:23 PM
Hear hear. Thank you Steve for writing this.

10-15-2007, 02:23 AM
The broken window excuse is getting old. Any development (LB or BT) is great for the city, lets quit the bitchin and enjoy the fact that OKC is bout the parade!

10-15-2007, 10:54 AM
What's getting old is the apparent exemption of Bricktown owners from city codes. If I have to mow my lawn and not put out large trash before a "due date" how come the broken windows in Bricktown have not been repaired for at least five years? Please explain that Johhnyboyokc!