In its fourth steering committee meeting, comprised of business leaders and a leadership team, the group met in hopes of reaching consensus on one alternative. However, after two hours of discussion, no one idea was decided upon.
As previously reported in OKCBusiness, the long-term plan is to promote future growth and enhance opportunities in the 1,375-acre "study area" - a development that project manager Russell Claus, Oklahoma City Planning Department's urban redevelopment division manager, says could take as many as 30 years to complete; however, he said, he believes it could be done in as few as 15. Right now, he said, the team needs to ensure the right plans are in place for the area's eventuality.
While some consensus already had been reached, such as eventually ridding the area of the post office and the Cotton Co-op and the necessity of a downtown park, several more conclusions were laid on the table for discussion.
"The park is an opportunity," Mayor Mick Cornett said. "The post office, as a building - architecturally, doesn't make sense with what we have in mind."
Anthony McDermid, local team coordinator, liaison and principal of TAParchitecture, said the team has compiled feedback from the previous meetings, which helped them to narrow the original three ideas down to two alternatives.
The two ideas, he said, "are mix and match."
What they have in common include a Mercado and plaza at the site of Little Flower Church, a marina, a destination retail district between the proposed Boulevard and Reno Avenue, a corporate headquarters on Reno, a variety of housing densities of all types and price points, redevelopment of the Farmer's Market area, a transit center, a beacon and gathering place at the south terminus on the north shore of the river and higher density residential along Walker Avenue.
"We have not specifically addressed the redevelopment of the Farmer's Market area, but it is definitely on our radar screen," McDermid said. "The transit center - we know we're going to have to synthesize our transit systems, and we are looking for a central location to do that."
Unique to alternative A, McDermid said, is a convention center situated to the west of the BNSF railroad tracks in a location internally dubbed the "Pallet City," which is south of the proposed Boulevard and east of Robinson Avenue.
Other inclusions considered include Bricktown expanding to the site occupied currently by the Cotton Co-op, an amphitheater, an office park on what's called the "pull-apart side," which is situated just east of the BNSF railroad tracks, south of I-40 and due north of the river.
A corporate headquarters area would face the river on the east of the tracks, the live-work residential would be on the west side of Shields Boulevard and east of Robinson Avenue. Commercial space would be on the Robinson Avenue frontage, and low-density residential would be around Wheeler Park with a small neighborhood park on Shartel.
Unique to Alternate B is retail development on the west side of the tracks, a convention center on the Cotton Co-op site, medium-density residential at the area being internally dubbed the "Pull-apart site," a neighborhood park and entrance to the marina, medium-density residential around the marina and a portion of Wheeler Park to remain with medium- to low-density residential.
Much discussion, again, surrounded the ideas of parks between the core and shore areas.
Alternative A's park plan seemed preferred, as Alternative B's plan for the park is broken into three areas -- a large park that is three-blocks wide and, basically, jumps I-40, narrows and runs south to the river.
"The last time we gathered, we had several questions about the parks that we were contemplating," McDermid said. He went on to explain that the park option in Alternative B would be approximately the same size as the 90-acre Will Rogers Park.
Devon Energy's Larry Nichols, a steering committee member, expressed concern that, similar to other major metropolitan parks, such as New York City's Central Park and Central London's Hyde Park, a three-block wide urban park in Oklahoma City likely would serve as a barrier and people would be hesitant to cross between the east and west sides.
While no consensus was reached in whittling the two ideas down to one, as the committee had hoped for by the end of the meeting, what remains to be nailed down is best land-use options for the various projects involved.
The continuing evaluation criterion includes: