View Full Version : Open Letter to Movers and Shakers

02-18-2005, 01:26 AM
This is part 2 of the open letter to Movers and Shakers, by downtownguy.

It can be found on his blog at

"Nitpicking (me) and Fair Criticism (metro)

The barricades are gone in front of the Oklahoma County office building – apparently, all we were waiting for was a strip of red paint along Robert S. Kerr Avenue. So that takes away one of my recent challenges to the movers and shakers. I can’t let you relax, so let me add something else to the list:

Have you seen the front of the Cox Convention Center lately. Once again, a large gash has appeared in the northwest entryway patio cover. This overhang goes over the drop off lane – clearly a matter of design rather than purpose – and is getting hit by trucks that are too high for the entryway. The convention center is the focal point for thousands of visitors who will either leave with a good or bad impression of our city. How long will we have our convention center trashed this way? How many more times will this gash be reopened before the design is changed to prevent further damage? Movers and shakers, fix this flaw!

Oh by the way... nice Bricktown entry sign at Reno. You've got another bad gash on this one as well, however...

(fellow bloggers, tell me if I’m going too far here)

Metro at provides a report on the newly opened Nona’s restaurant in Bricktown. This highly anticipated addition to Bricktown opened last Friday – something to remember while reading Metro’s remarks. Most restaurants have growing pains before hitting their stride. If the same report is true in a few months, then it’s time to worry.

“I was fortunate enough to eat there opening weekend, Valentine's weekend. Reservations were booked weeks in advance for the first week or so of the restaurant opening as well as the restaurant was accepting no walk-ins. After leaving the Blazers game early dressed in dress clothes and sport coat, my date and I pulled up to the Valet and had them secure a table for us despite the demand. We were immediately seated in the most private booth on the lower level. I was very impressed upon arrival, the service of the valet, hostess, and the overall elegant atmosphere unparalleled in OKC. A very upscale, vibrant crowd was present and live music was playing.

Upon our seating, however was another experience. The number of work staff was well more than sufficient. After sitting down, a good 10-15 minutes passed before the waitress bothered to even introduce herself. After practically waiving her back to the table she brought our menus. Another few minutes passed before she took our drink order. Another 10 minutes passed before our glasses of water arrived. After about another 10 minutes she finally took our orders. Granted our waitress was working two tables, one larger one (about 10 people) directly adjacent from us. Of course we knew the larger table would get more attention however her walking by at least 10 times during this period was unacceptable. After 35+ mins, a free appetizer, a bruschetta type bread with red pepper hummus (excellent) arrived, our Caesar salad was prepared before our table about ten minutes later. Granted the presentation and atmosphere is very nice, the salad was clearly not worth the $8.50 a piece price. Quality was just decent, but definetely not any better than Olive Garden or something much less classier. After this, we waited another 20 mins or so for our main course. It never arrived. After this I had had enough. I had approached what appeared to be a manager who was talking with the owner Avis Scaramucci and her husband who seemed to almost care less. All he did was come take the menu's quickly from our table the waitress never picked back up but never bothered to ask what I got up and approached him about. I again flagged down another waitress and had them bring another manager out. She was very courteous and addressed our concerns. I advised her of the lack of addressing the issue beforehand in front of the owners, etc. Avis, then came and sat with us for a good 30 mins just talking about our experience and life in general. Once she found out who I was she made sure to make sure the situation was rectified. She was reasonable and sincere and I will not further elaborate into detail.

Although I we had quite an unexpected experience, I will probably give it another shot because I love the atmosphere and is a unique niche in downtown OKC. I recommend everyone give it a try once. The upstairs Purple Bar is also very upscale and unique. Price wise expect to spend a good $16 on up per person.”

Speaking of Nona’s, look for another major renovation and addition to come soon on an original Bricktown property – this time along the canal.

- The Downtown Guy"

02-18-2005, 01:28 AM
Just for reference purposes, here was downtownguy's first letter:

"Dear Movers and Shakers:

First, let me sincerely kiss your ass. You deserve it. You’ve accomplished so much in the past decade, it’s sometimes easy for a lot of us to forget how far we’ve come. To Larry Nichols, president of Devon Energy, thank you for keeping your company in downtown Oklahoma City, when surely you face pressure to join the pack down in Houston. You’re a leader in this town, building both a company and a better downtown. In some ways, you’ve inherited the role that was molded by Dean A. McGee. That’s not to say we don’t also appreciate the continued leadership of Luke Corbett at Kerr-McGee. Likewise, you too have shown a continued commitment to our downtown – something we can’t take for granted.

And to Cliff Hudson … wow, what can be said about Sonic’s continued growth and presence downtown? You’ve set up a new corporate headquarters that with its outdoor amphitheater is designed to interact with Bricktown. And that brings me to the architects – downtown’s passionate dreamers. Rand Elliott, Hans Buetzer, Anthony McDermid, Don Beck (ok, he’s split now between here and Tulsa), Haven Mankin, Randy Floyd, Tom Wilson, the list goes on. They are the artists who are trying preserve what we already have, while also trying to create the skyline of our future.

The Bricktown dreamers can’t be forgotten. Sure, they shoot themselves in the foot by sometimes charging $10 to park, but where would we be without Jim Brewer, Chuck Ainsworth, Jim Tolbert, and the McLain family. And here’s to the merchants – the Jim Cowans, the Kenny Walkers, the Tim and Alison Sassons… And how can we sum up the impact of the John Q. Hammons and Randy Hogans?

The elected officials are still showing support for downtown, even if their major focus is shifting back to the neighborhoods. They include just about everybody on the city council, County Commissioner Jim Roth, Rep. Debbie Blackburn and many others. And to the guys who work behind the scenes, John Williams and Dan and Leslie Batchelor, I promise I won’t tell anyone you exist.

What will be created next by the artists? What’s being dreamed up by Carolyn Hill, Suzanne Owens, Liz Eichman, Joel Levine and others?

Finally, let’s not forget the leadership provided the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Downtown OKC Inc., Automobile Alley and other groups.

You’ve all addressed so many of the ugly shortfalls that marred our image for so long. Without you, the Air Force Monument would still be crumbling, an embarrassment to our city. Reno in Bricktown would still be a zig-zag that forces confused visitors to cross over abandoned tracks and switch from lane to another. We would have none of the information kiosks or direction or identity signage that make getting around downtown so much easier than it once was. Public art would still be something we could only wish for.

OK, so a lot of you hopefully now like me. Now that we’re friends, I need to confront you about something. Our expectations have been raised. And it seems like you’re starting to drag a bit on getting some things done.

Two years ago you promised a makeover of Couch Drive Park and the Conncourse. I know complications pop up, but when are we going to see something happen? The entryways into downtown from I-235 and I-40. After all that’s been said and done, can’t we do anything about this?

A couple of landmark buildings, meanwhile, need some attention. I know it won’t be easy or expensive to address the First National Tower (see for more on this thought), or the old Rock Island Plow building in Bricktown. But why can’t anyone make anything happen with the Marion Hotel property at NW 10, or the old warehouse across the street? Or the flat iron building across from Elliott + Associates?

Oh, by the way, we must do something more about signage. I know you’re feeling good about what’s already been done, but do you have any idea how many people can’t figure out if they’re stepping into the Civic Center, City Hall or the Court House? They’re all gorgeous examples of Art Deco design. But they’re so similar… My suggestion is to take a cue from the new sign built outside the Civic Center last year. Duplicate it, even at a smaller size, in front of City Hall and the Courthouse. Maybe you could do these as Centennial projects. The City Hall sign could promote events at public venues, while the county sign could display information about upcoming county projects and initiatives.

Yes, I know these things take money, a lot of it. Make more of those “Up” shirts and sell them. Find ways to make those district logos produce dollars for you. See if you can strike a deal to sell images of downtown for cell phones (that’s the latest craze). Also, revisit ideas that were brought up during the downtown master plan meetings. At, one poster, “Metro,” is trying to drum up interest in an electronic Times Square style billboard that could be installed around the corner of the Trigen plan, covering a boring structure and adding excitement to one of downtown’s most important corridors. You’ve built up some momentum downtown, maybe it’s time to see if it will generate money.

Are you doing everything possible to get development to continue? Have you done everything possible to ensure Mike Henderson will build the new Legacy apartments? Can we entice Braum’s to build a new store downtown, with the grocery section, now that their I-40 and Agnew store was closed to make way for the new highway?

And whatever happened to converting the one-way streets to two-way streets? Will that take as long as the Walnut Street bridge?

Okay, okay, here are some simple requests. Update the decades old Conncourse maps. Do something simple at least, while we’re waiting for the renovation to begin. Do a weekly sweep of graffiti, calling it in to the city’s action line as soon as it pops up. Make sure the street lights work. Take a glance at some of the streets where have barricades and cones up, like in front of the county office building, and ask yourself, are these really necessary? Why are they there, and what kind of impression are we making? (note to Sheriff Whetsel: do you really think cones and tape will stop a Tim McVeigh from blowing up a building?) And to the people at Urban Renewal: the property records show that you own that abandoned parking lot with overgrown weeds and leftover construction debris on Northeast Second. Is this really in keeping with an agency that is supposed to promote downtown redevelopment?

Yes, I know I’m demanding. But we’re all friends, right?

Sincerely, with love, The Downtown Guy"