Construction of new downtown park scheduled to begin next year

By Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

 

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in Friday's OKC Central Live Chat. This is an edited transcript of that conversation. To join the next chat, or to see the full transcript, go to NewsOK.com.

 

Q: When do you expect to see actual construction on the new downtown park? It's currently a bit of an eyesore being a large barren area in downtown.

 

A: Construction starts next year, the north half will be complete in 2018.

 

Q: Question regarding crossing signals around OKC. Is there any reason why OKC can't put in the automatic walk/don't walk signals that other major cities have?

 

A: This is a good question — and maybe we can include this in the next visit we have with folks like City Engineer Eric Wenger. The city is working toward being more friendly toward pedestrians, but this is a reversal of decades of neglect that included no construction of sidewalks. I'll be curious to see what the city folks say on this.

 

Q: What's next for the Boulevard Cafeteria building?

 

A: The Midtown Renaissance guys bought the cafeteria this past year and have stayed quiet about their plans. But I strongly suspect we will see a mix of housing and retail. It's just too obvious a spot for such use.

 

Q: What's the current update on the Santa Fe Train Station renovation?

 

A: Phase one, the renovation of the station, is wrapping and the next phases, which include opening the tunnel under the BNSF Railway viaduct into Bricktown, will start next.

 

Q: What do you think of the switch from HCA to SSM for the OU Medical Center? I read your piece, but are you expecting big changes for that area? Or does it really matter?

 

A: The change in affiliation is a big deal because it ends the outward flow of millions of dollars that were going to the for-profit HCA in Nashville. We are looking at a major investment that will include a new hospital tower. So yeah, it matters.

 

Q: Are we getting any closer to seeing plans of the hotel for Oklahoma and Sheridan?

 

A: Yes. Expect an upper brand, likely close to if not a full service hotel. We're getting very close. It will be one of the tallest buildings (as allowed) in Bricktown.

 

Q: What is the status on Twisted Spike and the Sunshine cleaner's buildings?

 

A: Both are well underway and are set to open within the next few months.