OKC mayor, MAPS program manager slapped on convention center site

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Steve Lackmeyer of The Oklahoman reports that an Oklahoma City citizens' committee (featuring heavy hitters like Larry Nichols of Devon Energy and immediate past Mayor Kirk Humphreys) has recommended a site other than Mayor Mick Cornett's preferred site for the new convention center, funded by the MAPS 3 sales tax. It appears that the original cost analysis, favoring Cornett's preferred site just south of the Arena Formerly Known as Ford, was badly skewed by using "cost premium" factors and by ignoring the $30 million cost of relocating an electric substation.

  • The MAPS 3 Program Manager was caught out on several claims that the City Council had instructed him to reallocate money from the $280 million convention center budget to pay for substation relocation and to prioritize completion of the core-to-shore park; no such votes were ever taken.
  • I wonder whether there is any connection between the Momentum attempt to stack the council and this dispute over the convention center and core-to-shore development. (Core-to-shore involves redevelopment of the area between the current I-40 alignment on the southern edge of downtown and the North Canadian River.)
  • When Tulsans suggested alternatives to the BOK Center location after the Vision 2025 vote, Mayor Bill LaFortune said it was set in stone. In Oklahoma City, not only has there been a public debate about the best location for the new convention center, the big shots are not afraid to disagree publicly with one another.
  • Not only are locations not set in stone, but Kirk Humphreys is urging that the need for the proposed regional park for the Core-to-Shore area be revisited, in light of changing conditions downtown since the plan was drawn up five years ago.

MORE: Nick Roberts doesn't like the decision:

Too weary to go into all of the reasons why this is a horrible site, for OKC that is, I mean it's great for the conventions... well actually, first we're going to have a big vacant lot between the two parks for ten years until we break ground on the CC. Unless they get to move the site up, in which case, we won't get as much mileage of streetcar track because of this decision. Or something else would be impacted.

There might be some interesting solutions that can alleviate the negative convention center impact we're about to add downtown. I'm more interested in pursuing that public debate than attempting to oppose yet another high-profile decision that was already made mostly behind closed doors.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 11, 2011 12:20 AM.

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