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  1. #201

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    The problem with UNP is that because the OU Foundation is involved, the developers are clearly getting away with murder. I think they have preferential status. This is even more problematic because it is preventing the City of Norman from cutting its losses and moving on to enter into a more promising partnership that will deliver the development Norman needs to remain competitive with its sales tax base and provide for growth and quality of life. It's also unfortunate that the university alumni foundation is neglectful with its community investments.

    This in addition to our combined previous rants

  2. #202

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I got to ranting about UNP again pretty good here:

    Whole Foods... Thread

    ...and once again it got me thinking about the place. What started the rant was someone who posted saying that representatives from Whole Foods came to Norman, looked around, and were underwhelmed. I got to looking at all the promises made about UNP over the years, with links to them in various Norman Transcript reports, and just found it incredibly maddening.

    It was repeatedly billed as a place that would be on par with major developments in Dallas and Kansas City. Speeches were given that, from day one, the place would be of a quality much higher than anything currently present in Oklahoma... with grand arches, clock towers, massive landscaping, and interesting architecture. I think what angers me most about the development is the realization that it is on par with the Fritt's Farm development on 19th Street in Moore, or perhaps maybe not even as nice as that in some respects, and is below the quality level of some of the developments along Memorial in OKC and definitely below the quality level of several developments in Edmond. Even if you disagree with that comment due to personal taste, there is no way you can look at those developments and say that UNP is heads and shoulders far superior in design to all of them and everything else in this state. Every time I look at the development, I can't believe how far they missed the mark.

    In one of the Transcript articles Boren says that he is personally going to help oversee the development, asking questions and demanding results. As soon as it was put on contract, from that point on I can't seem to find any more public comments from Boren on the matter ever again (except for one appearance to announce the Embassy Suites). I would really like to hear him comment on the development because I see no evidence of him being involved after selling the council on the idea. Our tax dollars have paid for a good portion of the development, and it doesn't look to me like we are getting what we were promised. I think he owes the council a public statement, if not an appearance.

  3. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Questor View Post
    Our tax dollars have paid for a good portion of the development, and it doesn't look to me like we are getting what we were promised. I think he owes the council a public statement, if not an appearance.
    Just think if those same tax dollars were spent converting downtown Norman streets to two-way, creating a quiet zone for the railroad, building a couple of 500 car parking garages, and some seed money to lure residential developers to downtown how much better off Norman would be.

  4. #204

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    Just think if those same tax dollars were spent converting downtown Norman streets to two-way, creating a quiet zone for the railroad, building a couple of 500 car parking garages, and some seed money to lure residential developers to downtown how much better off Norman would be.
    Your right, that money could have been wasted on main Street instead of 24th Ave. NW and Robinson.

  5. #205

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    Just think if those same tax dollars were spent converting downtown Norman streets to two-way, creating a quiet zone for the railroad, building a couple of 500 car parking garages, and some seed money to lure residential developers to downtown how much better off Norman would be.
    Just what kind of residential development are you hoping for in downtown Norman? There is little, if any, open land to develop. There may still be some options for lofts in buildings but I don't think any new low or high rise apartments or condos would be beneficial to the the ambience that many hope for in downtown. The current near downtown residential areas, for the most part, are very walkable and pleasant.

  6. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Why would a 5 story apartment building in downtown Norman be out of the question? Why can’t an existing 1 or 2 story building can’t be razed to make way for such an apartment building? Why does downtown Norman, or any historic downtown, have to remain in a perpetual state of suspended development? Who decided downtown Norman shouldn't continue to develop and when did they decide this? Did the Norman City Council pass a resolution that said downtown has developed enough and all new development should occur elsewhere?

  7. #207

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by rcjunkie View Post
    Your right, that money could have been wasted on main Street instead of 24th Ave. NW and Robinson.
    Do you take pride in being off base and on the wrong side of every single issue? Main Street is an infinitely better amenity than UNP. Main Street is awesome. UNP sucks.

    What do you think Norman's tax dollars should go toward?? Public safety is already over-funded and even has a dedicated sales tax in Norman. There was a streets bond package already, they're finally redoing Lindsey. Seems like the basics are covered to me.

    I think you just derive some kind of strange self worth from being on the wrong side of every single issue you post about.

  8. #208

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Main Street is the heart of Norman. NOT OU or Target. They need to teardown the two shopping centers at Main and Lahoma with mixed use urban design. That would be better used tax dollars or investment than anything at UNP. Students can live there and bike or walk to campus as well as walk to multiple grocery stores and bars.

  9. #209

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    Why would a 5 story apartment building in downtown Norman be out of the question? Why can’t an existing 1 or 2 story building can’t be razed to make way for such an apartment building? Why does downtown Norman, or any historic downtown, have to remain in a perpetual state of suspended development? Who decided downtown Norman shouldn't continue to develop and when did they decide this? Did the Norman City Council pass a resolution that said downtown has developed enough and all new development should occur elsewhere?

    My opinion, for what it's worth, is the that continued reuse or upgrades to existing structures would be preferred. That is not a perpetual state of suspended development. There is no place in the core of downtown Norman for anything like Deep Deuce if that's what you're thinking about.

  10. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by ljbab728 View Post
    There is no place in the core of downtown Norman for anything like Deep Deuce if that's what you're thinking about.
    Sure there is, they can build up. They can also redevelop the two shopping center just west of downtown. There are also tons of single family housing around downtown Norman that can be torn down and the density increased. If someone builds a house on a parcel nothing else can ever be built there?

  11. #211

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Kerry, I have no problem with redeveloping shopping centers that aren't in the core downtown area. I do have a problem with tearing down any current single family housing in the core area. I grew up in Norman and my grandparents lived on Alameda which was a couple of blocks south of Main Street. The ambience would be absolutely ruined if you start tearing out single family housing in those nice walkable neighborhoods. There is just no need for it. It's silly to just promote density only for the sake of density.

  12. #212

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I don't know that I could agree ljbab728. The apartment complex that' recently gone up at Monnet and Duffy sure seems like an improvement over what had been there. Indeed, if a few other older structures there went down and similar units went up it would be a further improvement.

    Some places I disagree with Kerry is I'm not a proponent of doing away with the one way segments of Main and Gray., They seem to work just fine.

    Also, Main and Gray both are developing and experiencing infill rather nicely. The Vista has been reclaimed and is mostly filled except for the question on who/what will take over the top floor. There are several eaterys and businesses added in the past five years on/off Main and Gray alike, with more to come. Some independent business folk I know are reporting slow but steady increases in their customer base. DT Norman isn't doing badly at all.

  13. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I'll tell you what - we got way off track from UNP so back to topic.

    I haven't been there in several years but I don't think much has changed. So where did UNP go wrong? What isn't there that people thought would be there or better yet, what is there that people DIDN'T think would be there?

  14. #214

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    I'll tell you what - we got way off track from UNP so back to topic.

    I haven't been there in several years but I don't think much has changed. So where did UNP go wrong? What isn't there that people thought would be there or better yet, what is there that people DIDN'T think would be there?
    i didn't think there would eventually be 3 mattress stores. And it when wrong because the city of norman thought business would come to norman over moore cause we are norman and they are moore, where as moore gave incentives

  15. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I thought one of the 'goals' of UNP wasn't just to create a shopping center but also create a sense of place. When you are in UNP did you feel like you are someplace special and unique? How about when you are in the store along I-35 in Moore, are they unique and special?

  16. #216

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    I thought one of the 'goals' of UNP wasn't just to create a shopping center but also create a sense of place. When you are in UNP did you feel like you are someplace special and unique? How about when you are in the store along I-35 in Moore, are they unique and special?
    It is hard to tell yet, because the water feature is not in place yet, and the "upper end" mall has not happened yet (and I know there has been lots of changes to that). That being said the initial planning for UNP is almost ten years old now, so it should be finished! LOL! Many thought this land could naturally develop, but even with the TIF, this place is still struggling to establish.

  17. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by dop View Post
    It is hard to tell yet, because the water feature is not in place yet, and the "upper end" mall has not happened yet (and I know there has been lots of changes to that). That being said the initial planning for UNP is almost ten years old now, so it should be finished! LOL! Many thought this land could naturally develop, but even with the TIF, this place is still struggling to establish.
    Do you think it was a sequence thing - going for the sprawling shopping center before doing the lifestyle part?

  18. #218

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Does it really matter what and when they build it. No matter what is there, some will never be happy and complain about everything.

    Some bitch to change things, others bitch to bitch!!

  19. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I think the main thing is they let moore steal all the business. Put the Warren in UNP and it would have been a totally different show.

    I am also not sure how it is so difficult to walk anywhere. Even to walk from Target to PeiWei is a little tricky.

    Where are the brick arches that are supposed to great us when we enter UNP?

  20. #220

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    I think there are a few problems, not just one big one. I think they skimped on the construction; I'm not sure if that was because of the economic downturn, or if it was simply people here just don't know any better. I'm sure the thing was built 'above OK standards,' but that is not saying much. The whole thing looks very pre-fabricated... like what we have are a bunch of cement boxes with fake bricks glued on to the front of them. Which is essentially what it is, and is the way most development is these days, but there's just something about how it looks... the materials... it's hard to quantify, but it doesn't strike me as high-end. From the beginning they talked about creating a sense of place, a place that would be turned-in on itself and not really have a backside to it, a place that would have a lot of walking to it. They showed us pictures of the development in Phoenix that is a pure walking experience with no parking lots to be found in the photo. What we got are a bunch of typical store-front boxes, with a definitive backside facing I-35, and a sea of parking out in front. There are sidewalks in front of the buildings I suppose, but they are disjointed and disappear completely when they intersect with a thoroughfare.

    I look at the place and wonder, what on earth was the builder thinking... were they trying to build a walkable town center, or were they trying to build highway frontage? It seems to me like they tried to do both... and ended up failing at both. The thing spans I-35, but it doesn't face the highway. Until recently there wasn't even good signage facing outwards so that driver-by's had any idea of what the thing was. On the flip side, the front is clearly built for drive-up parking. It fails at both... accomplishing neither. None of the higher-end appointments are present in UNP. It is arguable that the changing elevation of the storefronts is a high end appointment. We were promised a sense of place and unique stores... but literally everything in the place, except for Pei Wei and Petco, are present just up the road on 19th Street in Moore. Both of those stores are available at countless locations around the metro. I think the generic stores and the generic architecture, not good at any purpose, were mistakes.

    I think the biggest mistake was not being more accommodating to the Warren Theater. If the rumors on this board are correct, they approached Norman first, but for various reasons Norman did not play ball. This astounds me considering from day one the Transcript articles made it clear that the Council understood that it was in competition with Moore, that they actually had better demographics thanks to being located so closely to OKC, and that the moment they woke up and realized it Norman was going to have problems with UNP. Norman should have been more proactive. If the rumors of Norman apathy towards Warren aren't true, then the issue was likely the complex movie rights/region deals that theaters do and Hollywood must have had some sort of lock on the rights. But if that was the case then it was that way from day one... so then why was a theater part of the initial pitch for UNP? Did the development group not know their business, or were they pulling a fast one?

    When it became clear that the sleeping giant of Moore had awakened, why didn't Norman react at all to that? Why didn't they change their game plan and start incentivizing like crazy? Perhaps they did change their game plan as a result... maybe they decidedly went down-scale... but if so they didn't let voters know that ahead of time, and it is arguable that this was not the best decision they could have made given a multitude of ways to go.

    Maybe that is the big issue... a failure to adapt. They lost the movie theater, and they never found something to replace it in their entertainment district. D&B just opened here in OKC... did they try to go after them? What was the response? What other entertainment venues did they pursue, or did they get locked into the mindset of looking at theaters only? Why would you do that? Another issue is the concept itself. If the developers are telling you the economy can no longer support the lifestyle center concept, as they did in the late 2000s, then why not switch gears and try to attract an outlet mall? Honestly most people in OKC have no idea what the difference is between an outlet and a standard mall... most who do probably don't care... it's what the outlet mall out in Yukon is so popular. They may see "Sak's Off Fifth" but all they hear/remember is Sak's, a prestigious store that we didn't use to have here. It markets itself. If the UNP leadership was having problems attracting anything here, then why not shift gears and go after outlet malls? Clearly the one in Yukon has been extremely successful. People come from hundreds of miles away to go to it.

    I guess my latest rant can be summed up in one word: adaptability, or a complete lack of it. Yes the economy changed and certain realities shifted that "no one" could foresee. But as is always the case in business... that happens... and those who survive are those who adapt. I guess UNP did adapt and is surviving... but it is not really thriving. Not like the outlet mall, and not even like 19th Street which seems to have achieved a critical mass now.

  21. #221

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Also, although I generally like the idea of improving downtowns and not creating big new highway developments, we have to be realistic. The Norman downtown area doesn't have the demographics to support something like UNP. UNP doesn't even have the demographics to support UNP. It all has to rely on passers-by. That's the society we live in today. I think you can get there with downtown Norman, but I think you're talking about a multi-generational time commitment to do it, whereas you can throw just about anything up along a highway and have some degree of success. It's a sad fact, but that's the way it is. With respect to downtown Norman should we try to make the improvements being talked about here? Sure. Do I have any confidence our current city government could come up with multi-decade plans to do it, when I have no confidence in the multi-year development that was UNP? Nope.

    For the record I still think downtown OKC could pull it off, but that is because they are sort of a highway nexus. I think in time you could do away with the highways, or the need to survive off of them, if enough people moved down there, but again I think that would be a multi-generational timeline. I am not sure that Norman could be so lucky. They need a niche, and given the city's demos that niche is very likely mass transit, but again I don't see Norman doing a good job, or any job at all, with respect to planning anything like that out.

  22. #222

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by rcjunkie View Post
    Does it really matter what and when they build it.

    Some bitch to change things, others bitch to bitch!!
    That's you rcjunkie. And yes, it does matter what is built. It always does, just as you always say it doesn't matter what gets built.

    Other than that I second questor's posts. All of them.

  23. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Agree it is just a failure of the City of Norman to think big and be competitive. Questor is pretty nailing it. The Lifestyle center excuses are just that...excuses. It is a developer that promised big to get what they wanted and now doesn't want to deliver. The City continues to bow down and give the developer what he wants. At this point the damage is already done when it comes to the West side of 24th NW in any hopes of walkable setup. It will be one large strip mall and whats about it. So things must be made up on the East side of 24th NW.

    While probably a bit extreme, I still think the city/developers need to work with GGP to repurpose the land Sooner Mall is on and relocate the stores. If the true goal is to create foot traffic and a community feel, what better way than to take the lifestyle center (or whatever name they want to call it now) concept and establish it north of Embassy Suites. The concentration and selection of stores would be an absolute boom to that area (http://www.soonermall.com/directory) and not to mention it would be in a area that could actually handle the traffic a bit better.

    We could then take the old Sooner Mall property, tear down the mall, and redevelop it as a business park/housing or other non-retail use. The other target area would be the Hollywood theatre and work with them to build a new upscale replacement in UNP. If they are willing to play, then work with AMC or someone else. Of course the problem is Warren and the juggernaut that it is. Norman just failed miserably in not landing it and letting Moore run away with it. Granted Wichita is able to handle 2-3 theaters by them, I'm not sure they could make a Norman and Moore location work...especially with the seasonality of Norman's population. Though maybe a smaller scale model?

    It is all a mess though at this point. The question comes up soon...does Rosenthal get held responsible for the failure to lead or does she get a rubber stamp re-election?

  24. Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    A slowing economy actually benefits a walkable lifestyle center with on-site residential.

    Questor - I read every word you wrote and seems to be right on spot. I used to take offense to the 'okie don't know any better' but not anymore. A lot of them don't. Sadly, area developers don't know any better either so they just keep producing the same crap everytime. If you look at some old building you will see that the detail is on the upclose human scale. The closer you are to the building the more detail and uniqueness you can see. Modern developments all use manufactured materials so there is no variation at the human scale.

  25. #225

    Default Re: UPDATE! University North Park

    Quote Originally Posted by venture79 View Post
    Agree it is just a failure of the City of Norman to think big and be competitive. Questor is pretty nailing it. The Lifestyle center excuses are just that...excuses.

    While probably a bit extreme, I still think the city/developers need to work with GGP to repurpose the land Sooner Mall is on and relocate the stores. If the true goal is to create foot traffic and a community feel, what better way than to take the lifestyle center (or whatever name they want to call it now) concept and establish it north of Embassy Suites. The concentration and selection of stores would be an absolute boom to that area (http://www.soonermall.com/directory) and not to mention it would be in a area that could actually handle the traffic a bit better.

    We could then take the old Sooner Mall property, tear down the mall, and redevelop it as a business park/housing or other non-retail use. The other target area would be the Hollywood theatre and work with them to build a new upscale replacement in UNP. If they are willing to play, then work with AMC or someone else. Of course the problem is Warren and the juggernaut that it is. Norman just failed miserably in not landing it and letting Moore run away with it. Granted Wichita is able to handle 2-3 theaters by them, I'm not sure they could make a Norman and Moore location work...especially with the seasonality of Norman's population. Though maybe a smaller scale model?

    It is all a mess though at this point. The question comes up soon...does Rosenthal get held responsible for the failure to lead or does she get a rubber stamp re-election?
    Like this! Why can't a city think big and act big. Norman should not be a shrinking violet at the whims of an easy way out.

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