View Full Version : Downtown OKC needs to focus more on civic amenities!



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G.Walker
01-13-2011, 06:08 PM
With all the hype about the development of retail, condos, parks, and high-rises in the downtown area, city leaders are lacking focus on basic civic development like new fire and police stations, bus stations, schools, and clinics that will attract residents and developers to downtown. These basic civic amenities should be dealt with first before parks etc....

metro
01-13-2011, 06:10 PM
You mean like the new police station the built in Bricktown and the new Fire station wrapping up? Project 180, Myriad renovations, the new DT elementary school, entral park, new transit center, streetcar. This is something I'd expect thunder to post.

G.Walker
01-13-2011, 06:19 PM
I know of new civic amenities in bricktown, but south and west of downtown are lacking amenities, one elementary school will not do it, you forget about daycare centers, high schools. A downtown city college would be good to...

MikeOKC
01-13-2011, 06:19 PM
I think he's talking about how they had to re-tool police headquarters instead of building a new one because of "cost concerns." Do you have any idea how cramped they are? How outdated OKC Police Headquarters really is? It's an embarrassment. And yes, I concede, it does say something about a city's priorities.

G.Walker
01-13-2011, 06:21 PM
I would rather see a state of the art downtown city college constructed downtown rather than a high-rise right now...

MustangGT
01-13-2011, 06:43 PM
I think he's talking about how they had to re-tool police headquarters instead of building a new one because of "cost concerns." Do you have any idea how cramped they are? How outdated OKC Police Headquarters really is? It's an embarrassment. And yes, I concede, it does say something about a city's priorities.

Fortunately that thought is rapidly changing. A certain city councilman wishes he could have his vote back on that one. He has realized his vote will actually end up costing the city money and has recanted. But there are no do overs so... Now the march is on to figure out how to get the PD a new station. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. When the building engineers looked into the old PD building the came away scratcing their heads whispering to themselves.

ljbab728
01-14-2011, 12:31 AM
I would rather see a state of the art downtown city college constructed downtown rather than a high-rise right now...

How would that help more? I don't have a problem with a college but I can't see that as being better at all. There isn't a high school in the downtown core but nearby. It just can't be justified at this time. You have to have students to attend these schools that you want to build. The school district won't build schools based on speculation.

bombermwc
01-14-2011, 06:56 AM
OCC and Rose are not far from downtown. Redlands is a bit farther out. What does putting one downtown get you? No one that lives downtown would go there...right now all you have are more upscale places and those folks already got their degree. Same goes for the schools....no one there to use them. Just as jibjab says.

In all actuality, I'd say we need to spend more time focussing on NON-downtown projects. All things MAPs focusses on the core and really forgets the rest of the city. How about a Maps for Roads to repave the craptacular streets? Maps for Infrastructure...the unsexy neccessities of everyone's life. Maps for Timing the Streetlights Properly. Maps for Sidewalks (residential roads and main streets). You know, that sort of thing.

flintysooner
01-14-2011, 07:04 AM
OU Health Sciences Center does not count?

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 07:13 AM
OCC and Rose are not far from downtown. Redlands is a bit farther out. What does putting one downtown get you? No one that lives downtown would go there...right now all you have are more upscale places and those folks already got their degree. Same goes for the schools....no one there to use them. Just as jibjab says.

In all actuality, I'd say we need to spend more time focussing on NON-downtown projects. All things MAPs focusses on the core and really forgets the rest of the city. How about a Maps for Roads to repave the craptacular streets? Maps for Infrastructure...the unsexy neccessities of everyone's life. Maps for Timing the Streetlights Properly. Maps for Sidewalks (residential roads and main streets). You know, that sort of thing.

For both you and jibjab:

Building a premier college downtown would draw major traffic downtown to support commercial and residential development. For example, students/professors attending the college would be temporary, but would come from all over the world to attend. This would keep condos/apartments full year around, and students living in that are would support local business downtown.

Developers would not have to worry about leasing spaces because there would be constant traffic. Now I am not talking about your regular city college, but more like a tech school, or institute of energy science and research. This would also attract high-tech jobs to that area also, that is the perspective that I am looking at if from.

West of the new 70 acre central park would be a great location, just south of the new boulevard...

Kerry
01-14-2011, 07:33 AM
G.Walker - it is called Oklahoma City Polytechnic. I think it will happen someday.


(btw - did you guys forget about OCU)

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 08:01 AM
G.Walker - it is called Oklahoma City Polytechnic. I think it will happen someday.


(btw - did you guys forget about OCU)

I am aware of OCU, but thinking more in the core, something exclusive to downtown/core to shore...I have seen great architecture done for downtown city colleges that add great value to downtown...

CaseyCornett
01-14-2011, 08:03 AM
Is the ACM@UCO not considered a "downtown college" to you?

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 08:07 AM
Is the ACM@UCO not considered a "downtown college" to you?

Yes, that is a downtown college, but I was thinking something more on a grand scale, not a school where you can commute day to day, but something that would establish long term researchers/professors/students, to live,work,eat, shop downtown...I will post examples of what I am talking about shortly...

Kerry
01-14-2011, 08:09 AM
I know exactly what you mean G.Walker. Georgia Tech is an urban university but it has more of a traditional campus. However, Georgia State is located right in the midst of the downtown highries.

Here some of the dorms at Geogia State (2,000 beds)

http://precastrocks2010.tempwebpage.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/gsu-courtyard.jpg

http://georgiafacts.net/files/georgiafacts/2009/gsuswelevsmallsmallfile-lg.jpg

Here is their Science Center

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/NewGSU1.jpg

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 08:18 AM
Exactly Kerry, something like this would be great to, I could see something like this anchoring the new central park to the west, or even south of new convention center, below is a pic of Yale's campus in downtown New Haven:

http://yaledailynews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2010/09/15/Copy_of_Gateway_Community_College-Church_St_view_t670.jpg?b3f6a5d7692ccc373d56e40cf7 08e3fa67d9af9d

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 08:22 AM
My reasoning is that this would provide constant traffic of people, that will stimulate the economy of downtown OKC, when the NBA season is over, and not relying on Bricktown to draw people...

Kerry
01-14-2011, 09:03 AM
My reasoning is that this would provide constant traffic of people, that will stimulate the economy of downtown OKC, when the NBA season is over, and not relying on Bricktown to draw people...

I agree G.Walker. A high tech university downtown with 3,000 to 5,000 students would keep downtown alive 24/7, provide steady customers for some much needed retail, and be an attraction for high profile employers.

onthestrip
01-14-2011, 09:48 AM
I would rather see a state of the art downtown city college constructed downtown rather than a high-rise right now...

Say what? Is this post a joke or something? So you would rather see a downtown college serving a couple thousand students than a private investment of over $700,000,000 that also gave us $180,000,000to basically rebuild every DT street...? Im not sure you realize what you are saying. Plus, college students arent the ones with a lot of disposable income. They wont be buying or renting these expensive condos/apartments that are downtown. And besides, who is going to start this college?

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 10:26 AM
Say what? Is this post a joke or something? So you would rather see a downtown college serving a couple thousand students than a private investment of over $700,000,000 that also gave us $180,000,000to basically rebuild every DT street...? Im not sure you realize what you are saying. Plus, college students arent the ones with a lot of disposable income. They wont be buying or renting these expensive condos/apartments that are downtown. And besides, who is going to start this college?

What Devon is doing is great, but we can only eat on that for so long, we need something more to retain downtown residents and traffic, most people who currently work for Devon, don't live downtown. Like Kerry and I stated, dorms/condos/apartments designed for students downtown will draw traffic 24/7....OU, Devon, Chesapeake could joint venture and do it...they have the money and resources, and all would benefit...it could also be private...

Kerry
01-14-2011, 11:10 AM
And besides, who is going to start this college?

That is an intesting question and while there was not much info on it, several Captains of Commerce encouraged the inclusion of a downtown university in MAPS III. Who started Harvard, Stanford, Rice? Answer, private individuals who wanted to create a legacy. I'm pretty sure there are people like this in OKC.

OKCMallen
01-14-2011, 11:16 AM
That is an intesting question and while there was not much info on it, several Captains of Commerce encouraged the inclusion of a downtown university in MAPS III. Who started Harvard, Stanford, Rice? Answer, private individuals who wanted to create a legacy. I'm pretty sure there are people like this in OKC.

And Duke is the same way.

It's a shame the OCU law school didn't make downtown happen. I wish they'd find a way to make it work.

semisimple
01-14-2011, 12:27 PM
That is an intesting question and while there was not much info on it, several Captains of Commerce encouraged the inclusion of a downtown university in MAPS III. Who started Harvard, Stanford, Rice? Answer, private individuals who wanted to create a legacy. I'm pretty sure there are people like this in OKC.

Are you insinuating that this new university will be of the caliber of those schools? It would take many decades before an entirely new university (assuming it has tremendous financial backing) could even compare to the likes of Rice, and Oklahoma will simply never have a Harvard or Stanford.

On the other hand, a downtown OU campus would be great. It could be STEM education-focused (and maybe have business/MBA programs) and utilize the existing infrastructure, personnel, and services of OU. I could envision a much smaller, more urban version of something like UT Dallas being a possibility after a couple of decades of significant investment.

Even if this campus was built downtown, I suspect it would be a commuter school. Since the campus would be downtown, many undergrads would live off-campus away from downtown where it is cheaper--and grad students would seek the cheapest housing in the entire city--especially since commuting in OKC is a breeze. Even if a successful university was built downtown, it does not mean that a 24/7 thriving environment will automatically be created.

Swake2
01-14-2011, 01:16 PM
Are you insinuating that this new university will be of the caliber of those schools? It would take many decades before an entirely new university (assuming it has tremendous financial backing) could even compare to the likes of Rice, and Oklahoma will simply never have a Harvard or Stanford.

On the other hand, a downtown OU campus would be great. It could be STEM education-focused (and maybe have business/MBA programs) and utilize the existing infrastructure, personnel, and services of OU. I could envision a much smaller, more urban version of something like UT Dallas being a possibility after a couple of decades of significant investment.

Even if this campus was built downtown, I suspect it would be a commuter school. Since the campus would be downtown, many undergrads would live off-campus away from downtown where it is cheaper--and grad students would seek the cheapest housing in the entire city--especially since commuting in OKC is a breeze. Even if a successful university was built downtown, it does not mean that a 24/7 thriving environment will automatically be created.

You only need to look at TCC-Metro and OSU Tulsa both in downtown Tulsa to know this is true.

Kerry
01-14-2011, 01:30 PM
Are you insinuating that this new university will be of the caliber of those schools? It would take many decades before an entirely new university (assuming it has tremendous financial backing) could even compare to the likes of Rice, and Oklahoma will simply never have a Harvard or Stanford.

I just used those as examples, but there are hundreds I could have used. I went to a commuter junior college in California and after 4PM it was a ghost town. This is why it would have to be its own University and not a branch.

G.Walker
01-14-2011, 02:52 PM
Are you insinuating that this new university will be of the caliber of those schools? It would take many decades before an entirely new university (assuming it has tremendous financial backing) could even compare to the likes of Rice, and Oklahoma will simply never have a Harvard or Stanford.

On the other hand, a downtown OU campus would be great. It could be STEM education-focused (and maybe have business/MBA programs) and utilize the existing infrastructure, personnel, and services of OU. I could envision a much smaller, more urban version of something like UT Dallas being a possibility after a couple of decades of significant investment.

Even if this campus was built downtown, I suspect it would be a commuter school. Since the campus would be downtown, many undergrads would live off-campus away from downtown where it is cheaper--and grad students would seek the cheapest housing in the entire city--especially since commuting in OKC is a breeze. Even if a successful university was built downtown, it does not mean that a 24/7 thriving environment will automatically be created.


Not necessarily...dorms/apartments can be built downtown at a lower rate, but still be effective and provide great architecture...moreover students who live and work downtown may not be from Oklahoma,they would be from all over the world...believe it or not but some people like living close to their campus...Moreover, graduates could find work downtown from a high tech employer that the college brings, stimulating the economy even more...it could happen, I am thinking long term...not short term...

MikeOKC
01-14-2011, 03:12 PM
That is an intesting question and while there was not much info on it, several Captains of Commerce encouraged the inclusion of a downtown university in MAPS III. Who started Harvard, Stanford, Rice? Answer, private individuals who wanted to create a legacy. I'm pretty sure there are people like this in OKC.

Very good point. For the skeptics: It's called 'vision'....

BDP
01-14-2011, 03:24 PM
I think the problem here is that it is being discussed as "instead of" rather than "in addition to". There is no reason to devalue the current projects to justify these. If someone thinks that our current and past MAPS projects have no or will not be economic generators, then they have no been paying attention. These ideas have merit, but I wouldn't say they should be done instead of what we have in the works.

As for spreading the resources out all over the city, that would just spread it thin and create projects that would have insignificant return compared to larger projects places in a central part of the city that all have easy access. If anything we should make a commitment to stop building new infrastructure and just maintain and improve what we have. Maybe this would create more density and make our investment in infrastructure more efficient with every dollar spent benefiting a greater number of people.

Spartan
01-14-2011, 05:56 PM
It is completely erroneous that downtown needs to focus less on private development and more on civic amenities. First of all, I have a bone to pick with the government implications here. It's a bad idea to have a downtown that is just nothing but "civic amenities" which amount to government projects. If you had 5 blocks that had nothing but the library, art museum, civic center, ballpark, Thunderdome, Myriad gardens, festival park, Amtrak station, convention center, new convention center, police station, fire station, elementary school, high school, and so on--you'd have the absolutely least cost effective downtown in the history of downtown improvement. And essentially what OKC wanted to do in the 70s.

And some of these things you call "civic amenities" are private businesses..daycares (a former of private businesses), etc. Daycares come from...rooftops in the area, which come from...private development. I actually think with the 3 rounds of MAPS, Project 180, and other initiatives, we have great civic amenities downtown that I'd hold up to any other city's at this point. What we really really need to focus on is...housing. We have got to get downtown housing up. At this point the bottom line must be downtown housing, so to that extent, how effectively a project creates rooftops must be the standard by which we judge almost everything.

As for a downtown college, the problem in Oklahoma is we have too many colleges. Too many little colleges here and there, few major universities. OU and OSU are doing their best to try and improve themselves and attain higher rankings and more students, which is great for the state, but we keep wanting to create new branch campuses. I feel like there should be more justification for a new college than "downtown needs one." What we're talking about is the cannibalization of our flagship universities and the erosion of their target student population. Furthermore I think a lot of these regional universities need to be closed..probably all of them, but keep the successful ones like NSU and UCO. It's unfortunate that OU was put in a suburb 30 minutes south of downtown and it's much more unfortunate that OSU was put in a hick town an hour northeast. If OU was in downtown OKC and OSU was in downtown Tulsa obviously that would be much much more ideal. But the cookie just didn't crumble that way.

betts
01-14-2011, 09:24 PM
I don't know much about starting Universities, but it seems as if creating one de novo would be prohibitively expensive. And most branches are commuter schools. I don't think having a commuter school is necessarily a bad thing, however, just don't know what the impetus for creating one would be. I thought having the OCU Law School downtown was an excellent idea, but obviously that's a school with an existing name, alumni and endowment and even they chose not to do it.

Larry OKC
01-14-2011, 09:41 PM
...In all actuality, I'd say we need to spend more time focussing on NON-downtown projects. All things MAPs focusses on the core and really forgets the rest of the city. How about a Maps for Roads to repave the craptacular streets? Maps for Infrastructure...the unsexy neccessities of everyone's life. Maps for Timing the Streetlights Properly. Maps for Sidewalks (residential roads and main streets). You know, that sort of thing.

Many of the things you mentioned are theoretically taken care of with the 2007 general obligation bond issue.

From the City's website: http://www.okc.gov/bonds2007/

$835.5 million Bond Issue to improve or replace our City’s infrastructure.

Projects include the repair of hundreds of miles of residential and arterial streets, repairing bridges, improving parks, addressing drainage systems, constructing sidewalks and trails, building new police and fire stations, replacing busses, updating libraries and providing incentives for economic development.

More than half of the bonds are allocated towards street repair. ...

As stated on the site, nearly half a BILLION is being spent just on Streets ($497.5M) more than any single project in MAPS 3. The revenue equivalent of 5 years of MAPS 3 taxes.

http://www.okc.gov/bonds2007/BondInformation.aspx?propParam=3&sectParam=Synchronized%20Traffic%20Signals&propText=PROPOSITION%203%20(TRAFFIC%20CONTROL%20SY STEM)&sectText=Synchronized%20Traffic%20Signals

Proposition 3
Install traffic improvements for the purpose of interconnecting and synchronizing traffic signals for the following street corridors and areas...
There is $10M in MAPS 3 for Sidewalks (this is in addition to the hundreds of miles in the 07 bond (see below).

More than 70 miles of sidewalks will be strategically constructed along major streets throughout the City and connect public buildings such as schools and libraries.
Also, the Council has reversed policy and is building sidewalks whenever they have a street widening project

Walkers will also benefit from the construction of 350 miles of sidewalks and trails.
along with requiring sidewalks in new developments.

Fire Stations

Proposition 6
As the City grows, so must our public safety infrastructure. This proposition funds the recommendations of a fire station relocation study for three new fire stations in south Oklahoma City and the rebuilding of two 30-year-old stations.
How quickly will those bond issue projects be completed? it is a 10 year bond issue and just like MAPS projects are spread out over a period of years (a fire station funded with the 2000 bond issue was just completed, 10 years later). Have to let your Council person know your concerns so they will stay on top of things.

ljbab728
01-15-2011, 12:13 AM
For both you and jibjab:

Building a premier college downtown would draw major traffic downtown to support commercial and residential development. For example, students/professors attending the college would be temporary, but would come from all over the world to attend. This would keep condos/apartments full year around, and students living in that are would support local business downtown.

Developers would not have to worry about leasing spaces because there would be constant traffic. Now I am not talking about your regular city college, but more like a tech school, or institute of energy science and research. This would also attract high-tech jobs to that area also, that is the perspective that I am looking at if from.

West of the new 70 acre central park would be a great location, just south of the new boulevard...

As I mentioned in my post I'm not opposed to a downtown college but didn't agree with your comment that is would be preferrable to the Devon Tower and associated development. I just don't currently see any demand for this and with all of the colleges and universities in our metro area it doesn't sound like a financially viable proposal at this time. How would this be funded and would it be private or public? What could be provided that students couldn't already get elsewhere to justify a large development? There are just too many questions about this even if it sounds like a nice idea.

Spartan
01-15-2011, 01:39 AM
Want a real downtown residential college with a scene? Support the ACM. Perhaps one day it will be strong enough that it can offer student housing in Bricktown.

Rover
01-15-2011, 08:10 AM
There is a basic issue almost always disregarded on this board. That is, there has to be a focus also on bringing companies downtown. The dynamics creating the density downtowns is that there are complementary businesses in close proximity that provide easy interaction - business with banks, etc. If we don't get companies to locate fairly large employee bases there, then there is no need for housing. If you feel otherwise, all you want is what is now being developed in most large cities in the suburbs - faux town centers. We have to have a good foundation of employment downtown or all we have done is make downtown a big life center. Everyone talks about not wanting to suburbanizing the downtown, but that is what happens ... just with taller buildings and somewhat higher density.

bluedogok
01-15-2011, 09:20 AM
There are several who have made the branch campus thing work in urban environments, namely UT-San Antonio who has recently located a campus downtown and the University of Colorado system who has had the UC-Denver/Auraria campus for a long time but expanded it greatly starting in 1973. There is also Metropolitan State College and the Community College of Denver located on the same campus. They built the first on campus housing in 2006 but the area around the campus has been populated with students for many years. There is a large focus on graduate programs at the UCD-Auraria campus, I know the architecture graduate program is there and the undergrad program is in Boulder.

UT-San Antonio opened up the downtown campus in recent years and has moved the School of Architecture and College of Public Policy completely to that 11 acre campus. It is seen as a possible anchor for new development in that area of downtown that was in decline for many years.

progressiveboy
01-15-2011, 10:17 AM
I think that having AMC is a wonderful edition to Downtown OKC. I think that another good possible contender for Downtown would be the "Arts Institute". I personally think it would create a synergy and wonderful energy for Downtown. The only downside is they have campuses in Dallas and Kansas City so I do not know if it would be feasible. It would certainly bring out the urban, creative class and add vibrancy to the core center of OKC!

Spartan
01-15-2011, 11:48 AM
There is a basic issue almost always disregarded on this board. That is, there has to be a focus also on bringing companies downtown. The dynamics creating the density downtowns is that there are complementary businesses in close proximity that provide easy interaction - business with banks, etc. If we don't get companies to locate fairly large employee bases there, then there is no need for housing. If you feel otherwise, all you want is what is now being developed in most large cities in the suburbs - faux town centers. We have to have a good foundation of employment downtown or all we have done is make downtown a big life center. Everyone talks about not wanting to suburbanizing the downtown, but that is what happens ... just with taller buildings and somewhat higher density.

Rover,

50,000 people work in downtown OKC. 5,000 people live in downtown OKC. You tell me what the weak link is, that needs tending to. Also, it's extremely notable that a large majority of those 5,000 residents don't even work downtown, many commute from as far as Edmond. That was first noted in the 2005 Downtown Housing Study, much to everyone's surprise.

That's what happens sometimes when you study the obvious (that you otherwise wouldn't waste time compiling figures on) just for the sake of proving that downtowners are attracted to live near their work and then you find out something completely opposite and extremely interesting. I know I personally would have thought it to be a waste of time to ask downtown residents where they work, but I tend to be more of a knee-jerk impulsive gut-following guy.

BigD Misey
01-15-2011, 12:46 PM
I would rather see a state of the art downtown city college constructed downtown rather than a high-rise right now...

G,
About a year ago, when the C2S/ Convention Center discussions were flying high, I wanted to throw the College idea out there too.
I was thinking what institution would 1st of all want to be in the metroplex and what institutions could use a shot in the arm right now.
Imagine if...just for instance...a unique and historical college like Langston were to add an average Musical & performing Arts program as a Graduate curriculum? A newly built performing arts center by Devon, the new performance stage at Myriad Gardens, the civic Cener as well as their own State of the art facilities for performances by students who want voices heard and their names to be announced. The C2S plan included a new performing arts center anyway; it could be a joint venture by the school and the City. They could name it after professor Tolson. Add to that the McCabe program, and you could seriously attract some students. I mean what student says...'I can’t wait to go to this school with old bldgs and in the middle of nowhere?'
In any case, it would certainly give Langston Univ. a shot in the arm. The growth could provide funds for improving the fast deteriorating bldgs at Langston, most of which are older that I am. Building a modern branch, where students not just in the metro area would want to go to, but would be a national player could generate those funds. They have just enough students to move a couple of programs down here and start with 500 or so students. Langston may still have enough of a name to draw enough students to make it happen, and the metro could be part of the equation.
Some schools already have their fingers in the works of downtown. OU for instance with the Boat house. Can they open a small branch for one to two thousand students? The campus could house the rowing team. All of OU’s performing arts programs and are really good. All the locations I mentioned earlier could be useful. Then the Architecture program could not only design the bldgs but be housed in it themselves and would have the knowledge and experience of watching it all transpire.
But, then I snapped out of it realizing most all the suggestions I’ve ever posted have been shredded on this board. Unfortunately I merely browse here occasionally to see if anything new is up and rarely offer an opinion.
But, as far as your idea of a small college, I think it would be a great catalyst because it includes 4 key elements for growth…work, education, property development, proximity (river and boat house and performing centers). Additionally, many students would choose to live in campus housing if any. But it would only be a catalyst, not a large part of the equation and the Universities would no doubt expect the city to follow thru on the commitment...which in the end would probably squash the idea anyway.

Spartan
01-15-2011, 12:55 PM
OU needs to move their arch school downtown. The new facility in Norman is a fail, which I knew it would be when I was still a wee little freshman there.

BigD Misey
01-15-2011, 01:50 PM
Rover,

50,000 people work in downtown OKC. 5,000 people live in downtown OKC. You tell me what the weak link is, that needs tending to. Also, it's extremely notable that a large majority of those 5,000 residents don't even work downtown, many commute from as far as Edmond. That was first noted in the 2005 Downtown Housing Study, much to everyone's surprise.

That's what happens sometimes when you study the obvious (that you otherwise wouldn't waste time compiling figures on) just for the sake of proving that downtowners are attracted to live near their work and then you find out something completely opposite and extremely interesting. I know I personally would have thought it to be a waste of time to ask downtown residents where they work, but I tend to be more of a knee-jerk impulsive gut-following guy.

Spartan,
Housing is right! With the new condos and apts in deep deuce, the recent 7 story conversion of City Place/Ramsey...there is evidence that not only are developers interested in housing downtown but so are residents.
But, literally how many residences and apartments are currently downtown? A handful? Granted, that is all that has been needed in Downtown itself. It shocks me that even 5000 actually live downtown, unless your definition of downtown is a little broader than mine. But for clarity...I wonder if you could find out specifically how many live between walker and I235 and between 6th and the river. There are no grocery stores and few retail stores to support what most Oklahomans, or anyone else, is a comfortable suburban lifestyle, with a Grocery store, electronics store and sport clips within a few blocks. Where all you have to do is open the sliding glass door to let the dog out! That is the way most citizens would choose to live.
You can’t get that in Downtown right now. It’s vastly industrial and high-rise.

That’s why mixed use is so successful these days. Dry cleaners, small restaurants and small markets and stores to get the basics, and for now the occasional big grocery run a mile or two away. Then, once a few see it’s not such an inconvenient lifestyle, more make the jump. Then there will be the need for a full fledge grocery store. Then, next thing you know, everyone can have the same lifestyle as the suburbs, in a vibrant metropolis downtown. It’s what many successful 30 and unders want now days. About 10 years ago Dallas started the ball rolling and it hasn’t stopped yet. Fort Worth likewise is converting a lot of older multi story buildings into condos and apts.
To add to your point, the bigger picture shows useless dilapidated property south of the current downtown. Filled with a few companies and buildings that were useful to the city in the forties thru the 70's, but now are strangling market improvement which will benefit the many. But that doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t choose to live downtown, it just means downtown right now and in the past isn’t giving them what they need.

Surviving Cities must take risks to attract Corporations and people. Corporations need transportation, suitable living and a city that looks more modern than the 50's. With the property between the river and downtown, you first have to get through the 50's to get to the modern age. It’s not what companies want, what people want or what visitors want.

Spartan
01-15-2011, 02:40 PM
Spartan,
Housing is right! With the new condos and apts in deep deuce, the recent 7 story conversion of City Place/Ramsey...there is evidence that not only are developers interested in housing downtown but so are residents.
But, literally how many residences and apartments are currently downtown? A handful? Granted, that is all that has been needed in Downtown itself. It shocks me that even 5000 actually live downtown, unless your definition of downtown is a little broader than mine. But for clarity...I wonder if you could find out specifically how many live between walker and I235 and between 6th and the river. There are no grocery stores and few retail stores to support what most Oklahomans, or anyone else, is a comfortable suburban lifestyle, with a Grocery store, electronics store and sport clips within a few blocks. Where all you have to do is open the sliding glass door to let the dog out! That is the way most citizens would choose to live.
You canít get that in Downtown right now. Itís vastly industrial and high-rise.

Thatís why mixed use is so successful these days. Dry cleaners, small restaurants and small markets and stores to get the basics, and for now the occasional big grocery run a mile or two away. Then, once a few see itís not such an inconvenient lifestyle, more make the jump. Then there will be the need for a full fledge grocery store. Then, next thing you know, everyone can have the same lifestyle as the suburbs, in a vibrant metropolis downtown. Itís what many successful 30 and unders want now days. About 10 years ago Dallas started the ball rolling and it hasnít stopped yet. Fort Worth likewise is converting a lot of older multi story buildings into condos and apts.
To add to your point, the bigger picture shows useless dilapidated property south of the current downtown. Filled with a few companies and buildings that were useful to the city in the forties thru the 70's, but now are strangling market improvement which will benefit the many. But that doesnít mean that people wouldnít choose to live downtown, it just means downtown right now and in the past isnít giving them what they need.

Surviving Cities must take risks to attract Corporations and people. Corporations need transportation, suitable living and a city that looks more modern than the 50's. With the property between the river and downtown, you first have to get through the 50's to get to the modern age. Itís not what companies want, what people want or what visitors want.

Interesting post. I'll just say that the line between what "surviving cities" do and what "failing cities" do isn't that black and white. There are a lot of "failing cities" that have top-notch quality of life. Go ask their residents how they feel about their city "failing" and you'll be surprised by what you hear. People who live in say, Buffalo for example, will tell you their city is NOT failing and they will rave about their public transit, their beautiful inner city neighborhoods, their sports teams, their booming downtown, and their lifestyle that combines low stress with all the amenities you'd expect in New York. To me that's NOT a failing city, it's just not a Sun Belt city. Every region has different standards that apply to ascertain success and it's very artificial. On the other hand Phoenix is attracting a lot of corporations and is very rapidly growing but you could not PAY me to live there. Too oppressively hot, too devoid of quality built environments, and that's just my top two complaints.

It's not about being competitive. It's just about building a quality city. We have a pretty low quality of life in OKC compared to places like Portland and Buffalo, which is a city you don't ever think of, especially positively (but it's so underrated it's a perfect example for what I'm trying to say). OKC will never beat Phoenix for population or corporate growth, but we'll always be a better place to live.

Furthermore, I do think you have to make conscience lifestyle changes, especially right now, to make the most of downtown living. You do without some things and you gain other things. As for getting your hair cut, I think you can live without Sports Clips given some of the much better places downtown. Is that old timer still on the 17th floor of the FNC?

And we do have very different definitions of downtown. You say from 6th to the river..I say from I-40 to 13th. And if you draw the line at Walker you lose some of downtown's best blocks adjacent to the west side of Walker.

jbrown84
01-15-2011, 03:04 PM
Plus, college students arent the ones with a lot of disposable income. They wont be buying or renting these expensive condos/apartments that are downtown.

Yeah and neither will most professors. The main problem with this idea is that you can't just make a college out of nothing. We'd be better off supporting the growth of ACM and the OBU Graduate School. Both have grown exponentially in just a few years and have potential to add a lot to downtown.

Spartan
01-15-2011, 04:04 PM
By the way, I let it slide, but it's extremely factually incorrect to say college students won't be the ones supporting businesses. Actually, it's been discovered in the retail world that college students and their disposable income (no commitments) can be a strong consumer force. That's why you see more retailers marketing toward college demographics these days, because they have a stronger sense of fashion, trendier, and the reality is that college students these days aren't the typical starving poor college students that most baby boomers once were. In a world of scholarships aplenty and financial aid, and where the norm is for parents to put their kids through college, that is a key retail demographic. So just because someone's 50 and thinks they've seen it all and remembers when they wore hand-me-downs in college, those days are long gone. Truly. Plus, another benefit to the consumer economy that's taken hold is that college students who aren't well-supported by their parents can easily get an easy part time job, all they have to do is apply for one.

Article about VT students supporting a plethora of upscale retail development:
http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/113086

Study about marketing to college students:
http://www.campusclients.com/College/Marketing/marketing_to_college_students.html

Study of student spending habits:
http://www.brighthub.com/education/college/articles/80305.aspx

I think OU especially is an interesting situation. Won't say it's the same as VT, but will say there is a very SMU-wannabe vibe. You don't have to spend like an SMU student to look like one.
_________________________

Now, the logical response from our old timers on this board is: "Well, if that's the case, then I don't want my tax dollars supporting those greedy two-mouthed yuppie wannabes! Screw the streetcar, screw downtown, and I don't want a single sales tax dollar going toward infrastructure that will only be used by those people and their ilk."

As if there are any students downtown to begin with..

BigD Misey
01-15-2011, 05:01 PM
Yeah! Lets not confuse ncaa athletes with your average student! ;)

mcca7596
01-15-2011, 06:17 PM
On the other hand Phoenix is attracting a lot of corporations and is very rapidly growing but you could not PAY me to live there. Too oppressively hot, too devoid of quality built environments, and that's just my top two complaints.

OKC will never beat Phoenix for population or corporate growth, but we'll always be a better place to live.


On the other hand Phoenix is attracting a lot of corporations and is very rapidly growing but you could not PAY me to live there. Too oppressively hot, too devoid of quality built environments, and that's just my top two complaints.

OKC will never beat Phoenix for population or corporate growth, but we'll always be a better place to live.


Since this thread is about focusing on civic amenities, I don't feel my following questions to compare OKC's amenities to Phoenix's are off topic too much:

Spartan,

1. What is your definition of a "quality built environment"?

There are not traditionally designed urban buildings in Phoenix because they did not have a concentrated downtown area of skyscrapers until the 70's. There are a plethora of buildings incorporating modern architecture that did not do so at the expense of older buildings. There are more downtown shops and residences than Oklahoma City (please look at Central Avenue in particular on Google Maps) and Phoenix has a modern streetcar system. In my opinion, the downtown at street level is visually more appealing in its context than Oklahoma City's is in its context (physical environment and region).

If you were more so referring to the quality environment of homes, traditional brick homes cannot be constructed because of the effect of heat on the shingled roofs. Most types of trees simply can't grow there, so you are not going to see many "mature" or historic looking neighborhoods in the traditional sense. Also, you can't say that the design of homes there does not complement the natural landscape.

You simply will not find yourself driving on a bumpy, pothole-riddled freeway there. The most impressive aspect of them are the metered (utilizing a traffic light) on ramps. Furthermore, the on and off ramps are direct and straight, going at a decline for an on ramp and an incline for off ramps.

The best part? All of this within an area that is 475 sq. miles as compared to Oklahoma City's 621.

2. What are the criteria that you consider when quantifying a city's quality of life and how will OKC always be a better place to live?

Phoenix has a better transportation infrastructure, higher quality public education (which, granted, is not saying much compared to Oklahoma), just as many or more museums and cultural attractions, higher median income, better shopping options (the most important of which being the vastly superior grocery options), and a more laid back, yet classy, lifestyle.

I will indeed give the edge on climate to Oklahoma City; however, the desert heat CAN be very soothing and energetic. :-) Sure as hell aren't mold spores and many other plant allergies.

3. Finally, what sort of bad experience did you have in the Phoenix area that would make you not be willing to accept money to live in a city no truly less urban than Oklahoma City? :-(

Thanks.

BigD Misey
01-15-2011, 09:17 PM
Having onlyworked in thE Scottsdale area for a while, i thought that area was very livable and walkable. I could easily live there if the cost of living weren't so high. Interestngly, a college town...A high cost of living...i see a parallel here

Patrick
01-16-2011, 12:11 AM
Guys, we have one of the larger campuses right there near downtown. The OU Health Sciences Center is booming. And yes, they have their own housing, but a lot of their students also live downtown.

Spartan
01-16-2011, 02:06 AM
Since this thread is about focusing on civic amenities, I don't feel my following questions to compare OKC's amenities to Phoenix's are off topic too much:

Spartan,

1. What is your definition of a "quality built environment"?

There are not traditionally designed urban buildings in Phoenix because they did not have a concentrated downtown area of skyscrapers until the 70's. There are a plethora of buildings incorporating modern architecture that did not do so at the expense of older buildings. There are more downtown shops and residences than Oklahoma City (please look at Central Avenue in particular on Google Maps) and Phoenix has a modern streetcar system. In my opinion, the downtown at street level is visually more appealing in its context than Oklahoma City's is in its context (physical environment and region).

If you were more so referring to the quality environment of homes, traditional brick homes cannot be constructed because of the effect of heat on the shingled roofs. Most types of trees simply can't grow there, so you are not going to see many "mature" or historic looking neighborhoods in the traditional sense. Also, you can't say that the design of homes there does not complement the natural landscape.

You simply will not find yourself driving on a bumpy, pothole-riddled freeway there. The most impressive aspect of them are the metered (utilizing a traffic light) on ramps. Furthermore, the on and off ramps are direct and straight, going at a decline for an on ramp and an incline for off ramps.

The best part? All of this within an area that is 475 sq. miles as compared to Oklahoma City's 621.

2. What are the criteria that you consider when quantifying a city's quality of life and how will OKC always be a better place to live?

Phoenix has a better transportation infrastructure, higher quality public education (which, granted, is not saying much compared to Oklahoma), just as many or more museums and cultural attractions, higher median income, better shopping options (the most important of which being the vastly superior grocery options), and a more laid back, yet classy, lifestyle.

I will indeed give the edge on climate to Oklahoma City; however, the desert heat CAN be very soothing and energetic. :-) Sure as hell aren't mold spores and many other plant allergies.

3. Finally, what sort of bad experience did you have in the Phoenix area that would make you not be willing to accept money to live in a city no truly less urban than Oklahoma City? :-(

Thanks.

Downtown Phoenix is not visually more appealing than OKC's. Actually the worst area of downtown OKC (maybe Shartel around the jail or Hudson around the bus stop) would still be considered attractive areas of downtown Phoenix. Talk about somewhere with a huge issue of parking lots, vacant lots, and cracked-out abandoned strip malls. I guess they've cleaned up the one street but that doesn't make an entire center city. And instead of areas similar to Paseo or Plaza, in Phoenix instead you've got miles of pawn shops and abandoned strip malls with scragly dying palm trees and cactus trying to grow out of the cracks in the parking lots.

Also they don't have streetcar. They have LRT, which I admit has attracted a lot of real estate investment. Maybe things can change, maybe they are in the process of doing so.

Not being able to grow trees is not an excuse for not having trees. I like trees. Actually, I'll go one further: Not only is it an exercise in futility, but it's also ridiculous to have a city where Phoenix is located. It bothers the hell out of me that AZ politicians have goaded all of us into paying out the nose for them to have water artificially pumped to them in the middle of a freaking desert WHERE HUMANS WERE NOT MEANT TO BE. So it's no wonder that the city that happened to grow there sucks.

Also ramp meters are key examples of failed highway technology. I remember when they tried to utilize them in Houston when I was growing up and they were a massive failure. And believe me, if there's a highway technology that exists, Houston's tried it.

I concede the classier lifestyle..Alabama and Arkansas are much classier, culturally, than here. Don't agree that desert heat can be soothing or energetic. It is draining, taxing, and uncomfortable. Personally, it gives me nose bleeds, skin rashes, and puts me in a really bad mood just thinking about it. I hate dry conditions. It's also virtually my only complaint about Calgary, where I had been for the last two years.

As for the quality of their highways...yup their nice, wide high-capacity freeways allowing you to get the hell out are indeed the best feature of Phoenix.

MikeOKC
01-16-2011, 02:16 AM
...Now, the logical response from our old timers on this board is: "Well, if that's the case, then I don't want my tax dollars supporting those greedy two-mouthed yuppie wannabes! Screw the streetcar, screw downtown, and I don't want a single sales tax dollar going toward infrastructure that will only be used by those people and their ilk."...

Not me. As clichť as it sounds - they are the future. Period.

mcca7596
01-16-2011, 09:08 AM
Downtown Phoenix is not visually more appealing than OKC's. Actually the worst area of downtown OKC (maybe Shartel around the jail or Hudson around the bus stop) would still be considered attractive areas of downtown Phoenix. Talk about somewhere with a huge issue of parking lots, vacant lots, and cracked-out abandoned strip malls. I guess they've cleaned up the one street but that doesn't make an entire center city. And instead of areas similar to Paseo or Plaza, in Phoenix instead you've got miles of pawn shops and abandoned strip malls with scragly dying palm trees and cactus trying to grow out of the cracks in the parking lots.

Also they don't have streetcar. They have LRT, which I admit has attracted a lot of real estate investment. Maybe things can change, maybe they are in the process of doing so.

Not being able to grow trees is not an excuse for not having trees. I like trees. Actually, I'll go one further: Not only is it an exercise in futility, but it's also ridiculous to have a city where Phoenix is located. It bothers the hell out of me that AZ politicians have goaded all of us into paying out the nose for them to have water artificially pumped to them in the middle of a freaking desert WHERE HUMANS WERE NOT MEANT TO BE. So it's no wonder that the city that happened to grow there sucks.

Also ramp meters are key examples of failed highway technology. I remember when they tried to utilize them in Houston when I was growing up and they were a massive failure. And believe me, if there's a highway technology that exists, Houston's tried it.

I concede the classier lifestyle..Alabama and Arkansas are much classier, culturally, than here. Don't agree that desert heat can be soothing or energetic. It is draining, taxing, and uncomfortable. Personally, it gives me nose bleeds, skin rashes, and puts me in a really bad mood just thinking about it. I hate dry conditions. It's also virtually my only complaint about Calgary, where I had been for the last two years.

As for the quality of their highways...yup their nice, wide high-capacity freeways allowing you to get the hell out are indeed the best feature of Phoenix.

Thank you for your thorough response. I will just have to agree to disagree with you on most of your opinions. I have lived in Oklahoma my whole life and intend to eventually make the Phoenix area my place of residence after school. I just was curious as to the perspective of another Okie around my age on the area.

I didn't realize light rail could go in the median of city streets, sorry for that misnomer.

Perhaps humans living our modern lifestyle were not meant to live there, yes, but you could say that about many other climate-poor cities. The Hohokam civilization lived there for over 1000 years and developed irrigation canals, the remnant paths of which were converted to the canals used today. Granted, the civilization is "thought to have" left because of alternating periods of drought and flood (weird paradox), but they made it work for a long time. Phoenix was so named because it "rose from the ashes" of a former civilization. Look at the civilizations of the Middle East, seems like humans were meant to be in that desert as they have been going pretty strong since about the dawn of written history wouldn't you say?

I am really fair skinned, so I understand the effects of the heat all too well, and certainly understand that that could be enough to keep you away. I loved just being out in it for about 5 minutes at a time and being able to breath so well.

It's all about perspective, and I certainly guess one's man's hell is another's heaven.

semisimple
01-16-2011, 11:48 AM
Downtown Phoenix is not visually more appealing than OKC's. Actually the worst area of downtown OKC (maybe Shartel around the jail or Hudson around the bus stop) would still be considered attractive areas of downtown Phoenix. Talk about somewhere with a huge issue of parking lots, vacant lots, and cracked-out abandoned strip malls. I guess they've cleaned up the one street but that doesn't make an entire center city. And instead of areas similar to Paseo or Plaza, in Phoenix instead you've got miles of pawn shops and abandoned strip malls with scragly dying palm trees and cactus trying to grow out of the cracks in the parking lots.


Talk about a gross misrepresentation of downtown Phoenix. You must've visited with a blindfold on.

Granted, their downtown is a joke given the metro area population, and I do think the city is ugly. But their downtown does not consist of "miles of abandoned strip malls" by any extent of the imagination.

Also, in Phoenix, there are some great neighborhoods near downtown. There are also plenty of run-down areas. You seem to suggest that OKC's downtown, in comparison, is surrounded by great neighborhoods--which is very far from the truth. In reality both cities have more than their fair share of blight surrounding the CBD.

I think downtown OKC functions much more like the heart of the city relative to Phoenix's downtown. Phoenix seems very decentralized in comparison, which is another thing I don't like about it.

Kerry
01-17-2011, 09:54 AM
To tie all these threads together - downtown Phoenix tried the couplet style with their lightrail systen to try a revitalize their downtown and so far it is a big failure.

Spartan
01-17-2011, 10:30 AM
To tie all these threads together - downtown Phoenix tried the couplet style with their lightrail systen to try a revitalize their downtown and so far it is a big failure.

This just came way out of left field. Kerry, going to let you round this thought out a little bit more before I decide what I think of it. It seems like you can add onto this. But keep in mind that 1) regardless of any ultimatum you've said about single or double track, all options are on the table for OKC, and 2) using Phoenix as an example of streetcar failing might seem disingenuous for a lot of reasons the least of which is that Phoenix built LRT not streetcar and then the obvious one, Phoenix sucks. OKC is arguably infinitely denser than Phoenix because OKC was originally built around streetcars, which should make the transition an initial success here.

on edit: While Phoenix was obviously not a streetcar city to the extent OKC was, I did have a sneaking suspicion there were some historic trolleys at one point in time, and I was right, though I don't think it was ever very extensive. For the Phoenix defenders on here, check this site out:
http://phoenixtrolley.com/

Kerry
01-17-2011, 10:42 AM
It wasn't out of left field - this thread is about Civic Amenities and you brought up Phoenix and how their downtown sucks (for a city their size). All I did was say how Phoenix tried to revitalize their downtown with a couplet system and transit mall and how it didn't work. Granted they have light rail but in their downtown area but it operates like a modern streetcar. It runs in the street with traffic and has frequent stops.

Spartan
01-17-2011, 10:47 AM
It wasn't out of left field - this thread is about Civic Amenities and you brought up Phoenix and how their downtown sucks (for a city their size). All I did was say how Phoenix tried to revitalize their downtown with a couplet system and transit mall and how it didn't work. Granted they have light rail but in their downtown area but it operates like a modern streetcar. It runs in the street with traffic and has frequent stops.

Qualify failure.. and I'll say again, downtown Phoenix is just a huge failure all over. Downtown OKC is in an entirely different echelon.

rcjunkie
01-17-2011, 10:48 AM
Funny, all I've heard for the past few years is complaining about how high taxes are, how government is to big, etc:. Now I read on this thread, people wanting the government to do (spend) more.

Kerry
01-17-2011, 12:58 PM
Funny, all I've heard for the past few years is complaining about how high taxes are, how government is to big, etc:. Now I read on this thread, people wanting the government to do (spend) more.

Once you understand the fundamental differences between Federal, State and Local governments it will make more sense to you.

rcjunkie
01-17-2011, 02:53 PM
Once you understand the fundamental differences between Federal, State and Local governments it will make more sense to you.

I do know the difference, and everyone wants less government, unless it something they like or want more of, then cost is not important.

shane453
01-17-2011, 02:56 PM
Just recently spent some time in Phoenix and I would say the main reason I think OKC is better is not because of civic amenities. Phoenix does have great streets and highways, and certain corridors are really nicely maintained. The way OKC outshines Phoenix is in character... There are no really interesting commercial neighborhoods where you could stand there and recognize that you're in Phoenix. Mill Avenue in Tempe, the lifestyle center in Scottsdale, and Central Avenue in Midtown Phoenix seemed to be the coolest areas, but Central Ave was mostly just a corporate strip with some condos. It would be like if the most interesting parts of OKC were Campus Corner, Quail Springs Mall, and the Northwest Expressway. Luckily we have a lot of interesting urban neighborhoods that are coming to life.

Spartan
01-17-2011, 03:23 PM
Glendale has a nice downtown, actually, and Scottsdale is a nicer version of central Edmond. I hated my life on that trip, and the two Fiesta Bowls I went to probably have affected my piling on of Phoenix's suckiness, but I think Phoenix's suckiness struck me before the sour mood did. As for Central Avenue, look I understand it's gotten some new development, but the way I see it, it sucked when I saw it. It was just a busy road with a lot of lanes lined with several SandRidge Commons'. Downtown Phoenix is the land of the corporate plaza to the max. On the bright side everything in the downtown core is new and shiny because they have no history. Go 3 blocks over and it's pretty depressing and dilapidated. At least in OKC you have to go 5-10 blocks over for that to start to take effect.

There are cities out there that are pretty suburban but still decently urban at the same time. It's kind of hard to describe exactly what I mean, but OKC, Tulsa, Little Rock, Ft Worth, Austin, Albuquerque are perfect examples of towns that are extremely sprawling but have a decent inner city at least. It's because virtually all of these towns were developed as streetcar cities around the turn of the century and still have their old corridors somewhat intact and that's important. Phoenix has paved everything over and never really had anything notable to begin with. They may have the nicest roads and freeways some people have ever seen but roads and freeways don't make a good city, they just make a sucky auto-centric one. And if you thought OKC was bad..wait till you see Phoenix.