The Oklahoma City Council likely will be presented Tuesday with a new MAPS 3 timeline, one of several that emerged over the past few months.
The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board, which only has authority to make recommendations to City Council, voted 6-2 at its May 26 meeting to send the timeline for the council’s consideration.
The timeline arose after the subcommittee overseeing the MAPS 3 convention center requested a revised timeline from Architectural Design Group in order to speed up the convention center’s progress. With a price tag of more than $250 million, the convention center is the most expensive MAPS 3 project.
The preliminary ADG timeline had all projects except for the convention center being completed by 2019.
The convention center was to have a two-year gap in between land acquisition in mid-2014 and construction planning in 2016, with completion set for mid-2021.
The MAPS 3 program is a pay-asyou-go operation, and it would take longer to raise money to begin convention center construction while working on the other MAPS 3 programs as well, said Mike Mize of ADG.
During a joint meeting between the City Council and Citizens Advisory Board, members expressed interest in changing the project order in order to move up the convention center.
At the May 10 convention center subcommittee meeting, ADG presented the subcommittee with several options, and recommended one of two options that would start convention center planning 751-2800 in 2014.
However, the subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend planning on the convention center start in 2013, pushing several other projects to the end of the timeline.
The subcommittee’s recommendation was brought before the Citizens Advisory Board during its May 26 meeting, but ADG also brought two other timelines to the meeting that the consultants recommended for passage, thus competing with the subcommittee’s recommendation.
The first option recommended by ADG would move the convention center planning date up 30 months from the original, rather than 36 months as recommended by the convention center subcommittee. It delays by about two years the second phase of the modern streetcar project and design of the MAPS 3 lower park and divides work on the upper MAPS 3 park up into two phases. The first phase will be the construction of the SkyDance pedestrian bridge landing and landscaping along the northern edge of the park, which is across the street from the planned location of the new convention center, Mize said.
The second option moved the convention center up 21 months, Mize said.
The board opted to go with ADG’s recommended first option.
“While we recognize there is significant financial economic development potential for the convention center, we also believe (the 2013 option and a scrapped 2012 option for the convention center start date) required moving other projects back so far that it really changes what we understood to be the initial intent of the project,” Mize said.
Board member Michael Dover said a study that ranked projects based on their economic impact put the fairgrounds, river improvements and the convention center at the top of the list, but overlooked quality-of-life issues, and other subcommittees did not get a chance to revise the original timeline.
“We shouldn’t be looking at MAPS 3 projects as an economic impact program. … I think (citizens) really were voting for quality-of-life-type issues,” Dover said.
Citizens Advisory Board Chairman Tom McDaniel, who is also chairman of the convention center subcommittee and originally voted for the 2013 timeline, said he thought the recommendations by ADG were good ones, and supported them. With city staff in need of direction of where to begin, McDaniel said it was important to recommend one of the timelines to council for approval, and ADG’s first recommended option struck a nice balance.
“I voted yes with the convention center subcommittee when they brought forth the program for 36 months,” McDaniel said. “I thought that was a good idea. We all bring with us what we bring, and I’m an economic development business guy and I don’t deny that, so it all made a lot of sense to me. But I feel a really terrific responsibility for all of us to get the staff and city the direction they need to keep the momentum we have going forward.”