View Full Version : Downtown Retail Corridor?



floater
05-30-2006, 12:24 PM
From the net:

http://www.globest.com/news/568_568/oklahomacity/146132-1.html

GlobeSt.com Commercial Real Estate News and Property Resource
Last updated: May 30, 2006 08:19am

OKC Leaders Eyeing Major Retail Corridor

By Connie Gore

OKLAHOMA CITY-City leaders are ready to advance on plans to develop a retail corridor in the Downtown after investing 13 years into building an $800-million foundation that has yielded $2.4 billion of public and private investment.
"Discussions have just started," says Dave Lopez, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. Right now, the CBD's retail is a handful of restaurants, a few shops and a soon-to-be renovated, three-quarter mile tunnel system linking 16 blocks and 30 buildings. The vision, which includes an in-town grocery store, would have one million sf of retail, give or take, linking the CBD, Bricktown and Arts District.

As the street retail initiative takes shape, $2.1 million of work will begin in the summer to upgrade the tunnel system's concourse to lure more retailers to the network. The project, waiting to be bid, is the first overhaul of the tunnels since the mid-1970s. "The retail used to be significant, but there's very little now," Lopez says, citing a plan to build in galleries and murals as part of the upgrade package. The April 2007 completion will bring a new name: The Underground.

The retail campaign is so new that boundary streets have yet to be determined. "It emerged as a focal point after a mayor's economic roundtable a couple weeks ago," Lopez tells GlobeSt.com. "Discussions have just started, but we know you can't subsidize retail, you have to support it. Residential is the critical component for the next couple years." The groundwork is being shored up with under-construction projects for 1,000 apartments and condos and 1,700 rooms in six hotels. The existing inventory totals 1,500 residential units and 325 hotel rooms.

For the first time, OKC's CBD will have "ownership opportunities," Lopez says. A recent housing study shows the city could absorb 7,500 units over the next decade, stats that nearly rival its rival, Dallas, and Philadelphia. "But, it's not driven by the need to eliminate commutes," he points out, "but by people wanting to live Downtown." That first wave of for-sale product is priced at $180,000 to $800,000.

Oklahoma City is a sleeper city that's been awakened by a sea of construction cranes to rival upper-tier metropolitan areas. "It seems opportunity is popping up above and below ground," Lopez says. The opportunities can be traced to a 1993 decision by voters for a one-cent sales tax earmarked for revitalization projects to be completed on a cash-only basis. Within 66 months, $360 million was in the till and another $54 million earned from tax revenue--and it's been growing with every cash register ring. To date, the Metropolitan Area Projects fund, locally known as MAPS, has generated $201.5 million of hotels and entertainment projects, $167.6 million of office and retail, $111.8 million of residential and mixed-use space and $616 million of public, cultural and institutional development.

The first project, Bricktown, got under way in 1996. Its redevelopment included a $34.2-million ballpark and $23.1-million, man-made canal as the focal point for retail, office and residential space. Now, leaders are embarking on a second make-over wave for more Bricktown buildings, fueled by the opening of a Bass Pro Shop and Sonic Corp.'s headquarters building.

"The hope was to double the initial investment by the city," Lopez says, "and no debt whatsoever." The sales tax has exceeded all expectations, generating $2.4 billion of public and private investment. The payday has been landing economy-boosting deals like the Big 12 Men's and Women's 2007 Basketball Tournament and fielding the New Orleans Hornets while their home city rebuilds.

The project roster includes a $50-million renovation of the Skirvin, a historic skyscraper bought three years ago by the city and leased last year to a development partnership that includes Marcus Hotels & Resorts and local investors. The 225-room, 14-story project, being flagged as the Skirvin Hilton, will open in the fourth quarter. The development till's also funding a 125,000-sf American Indian Cultural Center on 300 acres at the junction of Interstates 35 and 40, which broke ground seven months ago and will deliver in spring 2009. The savvy leaders' course includes a $460-million improvement to Interstate 40, penciled for a late 2007 completion, and finished myriad projects for medical, arts, entertainment and sporting draws. The one-cent tax was so successful that another penny levy was approved to fund $800 million of upgrades to 74 schools along with bond financing, delivering yet-another incentive to change national perceptions about Oklahoma City.

Capital infusion by resident firms and the city has underwritten a revitalization plan that's slowly erasing Oklahoma City's second-tier image and attracting national developers to its midst. "Oklahoma's Renaissance is becoming a little more known," Lopez says.


Copyright 2006 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Intriguing, but IMHO The Underground retail is a bad idea. We need more street-level pedestrian traffic.

Patrick
05-30-2006, 12:28 PM
Although I'm glad to see the conncourse getting a makeover, I think most retail needs to be focused on the street level. We need foot traffic downtown, not below downtown.

BDP
05-30-2006, 12:36 PM
I agree, Patrick, but I wonder if there is a way or if it's part of the plans to integrate the two with split level retail locations with fronts at street level and in the Underground? I'd love to see that. We could increase street level pedestrian traffic, as well as develop a weather proof shopping environment for downtown retail.

floater
05-30-2006, 12:44 PM
I agree, Patrick, but I wonder if there is a way or if it's part of the plans to integrate the two with split level retail locations with fronts at street level and in the Underground? I'd love to see that. We could increase street level pedestrian traffic, as well as develop a weather proof shopping environment for downtown retail.

That would be cool.

Pete
05-30-2006, 01:39 PM
Retailers are not going to be lured en masse into the tunnel system.

Even in the hay-days of the oil-boom 80's, all that ever was down there were a few restaurants (typically lunch-only) and a convenience store or two.

Now, there is a concern about the Underground taking foot-traffic away from street-level retailers, and that's one I share.



I'm very, very happy to see the leadership in OKC continuing to take a big picture view and working together on larger-scale issues. Sounds like this is all very preliminary but that's always the first step!

Flatlander
05-30-2006, 02:17 PM
Is it possible to have street access and tunnel access downtown?. I thought most of the tunnels were under buildings.I dont know.I know we need foot traffic.To me it seems like two different issues.Personally I think the Underground will do just fine.Imagine the costs assosiated with street /tunnel access

floater
05-30-2006, 05:43 PM
As far as I know, all the tunnel entrances are within buildings, with the exception of the staircase on the Chase Tower plaza. Funding is already designated with the revenues of a special improvement district.
http://www.e-a-a.com/images/community/undrgrnd/under3b.jpg

Tunnel retail and street level retail are related because the more underground retail there is, that's less retail that could have been on the street. There presently isn't enough demand to support both (although Malibu is right in that there wasn't that much in the Conncourse at its height).

And most of us think that retail needs to be streetlevel. TAP Architecture did not approve funding The Underground the same reason the Urban Land Institute suggested we close the Conncourse in the aftermath of the bombing: because it takes people away from the streets. People hear the hype about OKC but they don't believe it because the streets are essentially quiet, even during the workday. That's because everybody's in the buildings, tunnels, or parking garages. They have no need to go outside. And few people on the streets = deadtown.

The Old Downtown Guy
06-01-2006, 01:00 PM
At one time I was totally opposed to the concourse system and its taking away street life by providing a slightly more convenient, weatherproof trek from parking garage to office, and still don't believe that much retail could thrive in an "Underground", but perhaps there is a middle-ground underground solution.

It is obvious that major downtown property owners are very much in favor of retaining and upgrading the concourse system and my understanding is that their views are driven by the wishes (perhaps misguided wishes) of their tenants, or at least a vocal portion thereof.

The proposed design concept I have seen, included improving the street entrance from Chase Plaza and I thought some other elements that visually connected the concourse to street level; could just be my faulty recollection however. But, none the less, the OKC concourse system is unique and that could be a strong enough anchor to get some new retail going. My instinct is that there should be excellent street level connection to make the whole thing work. If there were more interaction and cross traffic between the underground and the ground level, I can see a possibility for some retail success.

It's a tough design challenge, but those difficulties and obstacles usually bring fourth the most creative solutions.

metro
06-01-2006, 01:47 PM
The underground worked in Atlanta. I say we keep it, we're only about one out of 7 cities in the US that has one. If we shut it down and filled it up or something. It would be one of those things in 30 years that we'd kick ourselves for, kind of like the Skirvin, Delmar Gardens, Oklahoma River, Urban Renewals destruction in the 70's etc...

The Old Downtown Guy
06-01-2006, 02:19 PM
The underground worked in Atlanta. I say we keep it, we're only about one out of 7 cities in the US that has one. If we shut it down and filled it up or something. It would be one of those things in 30 years that we'd kick ourselves for, kind of like the Skirvin, Delmar Gardens, Oklahoma River, Urban Renewals destruction in the 70's etc...

The original version of Underground Atlanta went down the tubes along with downtown in general just like downtown OKC. The revitalized Undergroung Atlanta I visited about ten years ago was busy and had several resturants near a wide open below street level plaza main entrance. I don't remember a lot of standard retail there, mostly novelties and t-shirts with the eateries and specialty food retailers, ice cream, coffee, candy etc.

I don't know how well it's holding up today, but I don't see it as a model for OKC. Most of our concourse system is pedestrian transportation corridor with a few pockets suitable for other uses scattered around. What we have is more utilitarian in nature as opposed to Atlanta's Underground which has a more historic basis. I think it is a few streets (could be several blocks of streets) that were more or less roofed over and new streets and buildings constructed above. I don't recall the details about Atlanta's Underground or the reason for the reconstruction but I'm sure the info is easily available online.

metro
06-01-2006, 03:11 PM
Actually Underground Atlanta is thriving. I lived in Atlanta for a year and also volunteered at the Summer Olympics in 1996. Underground Atlanta was big then and even bigger now. I went again last year. They have a mall in the underground so in answer to the retail, it works. I think the multi-level works as it can be street level on some streets and underground on others. It's basically become a tourist area in and of itself. The same could be for OKC if implemented properly. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day. Just like some older citizens on this site tell us younger folks to be more patient with development, the same must be said from us younger folks to be more patient when planning for these future projects. Think what the Underground and OKC could be like in 30+ years

www.underground-atlanta.com

The Old Downtown Guy
06-01-2006, 03:26 PM
Think what the Underground and OKC could be like in 30+ years http://www.underground-atlanta.com/

And I'll only be 94

I would love to see retail come back strong to downtown OKC in a form that leads to real diversity and prosperity; a new generation of independent retailers with new ideas and approaches that just leave us old farts shaking our heads. I would love to watch that happen. I can just imagine heading to the "Underground" for a little people watching and sitting down to a plate of "who knows what" with a side dish of "who wouda ever thout o that", accompanied by a good glass of Chardonnay. Some things will remain the same.

Thanks for the Atlanta Underground link Metro, I'll check that out later this evening.

jbrown84
06-01-2006, 07:36 PM
I was thinking the same thing as BDP about creating retail that has two floors and both street level and Underground access. Convenience stores and coffee shops could have entrances on both levels.

And I think it's right that we could be very sorry in 15-20 years if we just got rid of it. The property owners seem to want it very bad, so lets make it nice and make the best of the opportunity.

Also, it doesn't sound to me like the article is only talking about the Underground. What I got out of it is that they are working on street level storefront retail as well. Maybe I misread.

The Old Downtown Guy
06-01-2006, 10:01 PM
Metro, Underground Atlanta is to our concourse system as the San Antonio River Walk is to the Bricktown Canal. The OKC Underground won't approach what Atlanta offers, which is more like an extra large underground Bricktown, but there are definitely some opportunities to be explored.

UA sports lots of interesting independently owned stores and restaurants. A few franchise places, but they are way in the minority. I enjoyed reading the history again as well. An enjoyable site. I don't recall that Kenny's Alley was there when I last visited. Thanks again for the link.