Progress seen, but not everywhere
Q: Is the Bricktown Renaissance Hotel off?
A: Andy Patel says he is still moving ahead, but every time I inquire as to when, the answer is something like "within a few months." This is the answer I got about a month ago. And last spring. And in autumn of 2017. And in early 2017.
Q: What's the latest on the redevelopment of the Spaghetti Warehouse building?
A: All work has stopped. Don Hayes said the owners are still in discussions over how to proceed.
Q: Any word on the Foodies building?
A: Yes. I've always loved this quaint little diner building that has been treated horribly over the years. It got some love when it was leased by a young Korean couple who operated Foodies, a great Asian-fusion concept and twist on American diner fare.
It all came to an end when they tried to expand with a location closer to their homes in south Oklahoma City (it didn't survive) and some weird things happened with them turning over the diner to folks who tore it up and then abandoned it.
A couple of weeks ago the city council added the building to the abandoned buildings list. The front window has been partially boarded up, leaving the diner exposed for months and the owners have ignored repeated notices from the city.
An effort, meanwhile, by restaurateur Joe Jungmann to turn the property into a BBQ and outdoor food and drink business fizzled.
But now for the good news. The Pivot Project, which is building the Hudson Street Market and Elk Valley Brewery next door, report they have a lease on the Foodies diner and will be fixing it up for a tenant.
Q: What would your ideal inclusions to MAPS 4 be? It seems a massive hurdle to solve the education issues.
A: I see public transit as a part of the mix in addressing education, poverty and homelessness in that it can expand opportunities for our city's most vulnerable residents.
As the MAPS 4 discussion evolves, expect to hear some exciting ideas about creating long-term approaches to education, homelessness, addiction and mental health.
Mayor David Holt is looking at some innovative possibilities.
The city alone cannot "solve" the education issue. Lawmakers have the ultimate authority, and that includes looking at whether the 19th century school board approach to school governance is proving to be ineffective and a poor match for what we face in the 21st century.
Q: What are your top 3 ideas for MAPS 4?
A: Extend the streetcar down Robinson into Capitol Hill, down 4th Street into the Oklahoma Health Center and eastside neighborhoods, and to Classen to connect with Classen-10-Penn and Plaza District. Create a bus rapid transit corridor along Northwest Expressway. Expand public transit citywide.
Q: I see a law firm is going in on the NE corner of 3rd and Walnut. That should be cool. I hope they watch out or that first step will be a killer in front. Anything planned for the other corner?
A: Indeed, the old school board building is set to see its steps rebuilt. Meanwhile, Richard McKown owns part of that opposite corner and Urban Renewal owns the other part of the corner. Urban Renewal is about to issue a request for proposals so expect some movement soon.
Q: Steve, any word on what is planned for the strip of land that is opening up for development in front of the Chesapeake Arena? I would love to see some sort of covered outdoor area to watch the game on a big screen but worried it will end up just being a merchandise shop.
A: This land, between the Oklahoma City Boulevard and the arena, was recently put out for proposals by the Urban Renewal Authority. I'm betting the Thunder respond with some sort of entertainment mix.