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Core issues


Comments in a Core to Shore study rankle some on the MAPS 3 streetcar panel.

Clifton Adcock February 8th, 2012

Oklahoma City’s 6-year-old plan to develop land between downtown and the Oklahoma River, the Core to Shore plan, is still relevant — it just needs a little tweaking, according to a recent review of it.

ADG, the lead consulting firm hired by the city for MAPS 3, joined with Hargreaves Associates and Jonathan Rose Companies for the limited study after some city officials questioned whether Core to Shore was still valid amid the changes that have taken place in the city and with the MAPS 3 program.

ADG’s Mike Mize said the study’s purpose was to examine Core to Shore in context with MAPS 3 and other adjacent developments and to validate or suggest changes to the plan.

The Core to Shore plan calls for the construction of neighborhoods, parks and businesses from downtown to the Oklahoma River, with elements including the future boulevard, the 70-acre MAPS 3 downtown park, businesses and mixed-use housing near the park, a new convention center and hotel, and relocation of some businesses and homes in the Core to Shore area.

What’s changed
One of those elements, the convention center, was originally planned for the Core to Shore area, but the MAPS 3 convention center subcommittee — and later the City Council — chose to put the facility north of where the future boulevard will run. Other changes since the Core to Shore plan include Project 180, the Interstate 40 relocation and SkyDance pedestrian bridge.

right,  The construction of SkyDance bridge is among the new developments that prompted a review of Core to Shore.

Mize, who first presented the review’s preliminary findings to the MAPS 3 transit subcommittee on Jan. 25, plans to present the report this month to the MAPS 3 convention center and park subcommittees.

The consultants reviewed Core to Shore as well as MAPS 3 plans and met with stakeholders and interested parties to identify issues, Mize said.

According to the findings, a number of the specific components of Core to Shore have changed significantly since the plan’s initial release, but its basic framework is still valid and provides a guide for growth from downtown to the river.

The study found the plan still holds in relation to development in downtown, Midtown and Bricktown, and there is still room in Core to Shore to look more closely at the riverfront as a “major civic asset.”

The study also examined the three largest MAPS 3 projects in relation to Core to Shore. Moreover, it looked at the planned boulevard, which the report recommended not exceed four lanes, include a median to accommodate the streetcar and plaza, curve south to make room for the convention center and minimize the street’s depression going under the railroad tracks.

Tensions with transit
Not all were satisfied with the study, however. Several MAPS 3 transit subcommittee members criticized a few of the findings on the streetcar, including questions raised by those interviewed about the market and demand for transit, rider profiles, how it will connect employment centers and housing, and how it can spur high-quality development.

The study indicated stakeholders were concerned about possible streetscape clutter with the streetcar’s overhead wires. Interviewees said a consultant should be hired to determine the most viable route by including factors such as economic development in that determination.

Subcommittee member Jill Adler said the streetcar program hasn’t been in front of the public like the park and convention center projects have. She said most of the concerns raised by the interviewed stakeholders in the study (which did not include transit subcommittee members) already have been addressed.

“I think a lot of these questions, actually, are fairly naïve, and I think there are answers available for most of them,” she said. “It concerns me to have this kind of thing out there floating around at this point when we’re this far down the line.”

Subcommittee vice chairman Zane Boatright said the streetcar project is moving forward.

“I think there is a faction in this city that thinks transit won’t work,” Boatright said. “Let’s face it, it’s here; it’s in MAPS 3.”

Subcommittee member Steve Mason said the issues listed in the report on the streetcar have an “unbelievably loaded angle” to them, and questioned why similar questions weren’t asked of the other two projects. Regardless, the committee should try to educate the public and shareholders on the project’s progress and where it stands, he said.

“These comments are unfair, but they are comments,” Mason said. “Maybe it’s fiction, but it becomes fact.”

Those interviewed for the Core to Shore limited study are:
Mayor Mick Cornett, Councilwoman Meg Salyer, Councilman Gary Marrs, Devon Energy CEO and Convention Center Subcommittee member Larry Nichols, MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board Chair and Convention Center Subcommittee Chair Tom McDaniel, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce President and Convention Center Subcommittee member Roy Williams, MAPS 3 Park Subcommittee member Anthony McDermott, MAPS 3 Park Subcommittee Chair Kim Lowe, MAPS 3 Park Subcommittee member Fred Hall, MAPS 3 Park Subcommittee member Bill Cameron, downtown property owner Bob Howard, Alliance for Economic Development President Cathy O’Connor, City Planning Director Russell Claus, former Mayor Kirk Humphries, Executive Director of the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities Blair Humphries, Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and SkyDance Bridge designer Hans Butzer, Oklahoma Department of Transportation Project Manager Paul Green, and Myriad Gardens Foundation Chair Jim Tolbert.

Download a PDF copy of the Core to Shore report.

Photo by Mark Hancock

 
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