Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Public Interests, Developments to Keep Bricktown Canal Afloat

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Public Interests, Developments to Keep Bricktown Canal Afloat

Article excerpt

Public enthusiasm for the Bricktown canal has been overwhelming, but what will happen when its novelty wears off?

Over the Independence Day weekend, an estimated 250,000 visitors came downtown to see the new canal as well as holiday fireworks -- far more than city leaders actually expected, although not more than they had prepared for.

But is there a risk that the newness will quickly fade? Not for many months, estimates Devery Youngblood, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce manager of the MAPS investment program.

While the record crowds seen on the opening weekend may not be repeated, he notes that isn't really the goal for every weekend anyway. Before the canal frenzy drops from a boil to a simmer, more new restaurant and retail development will come along to keep people coming back.

Some of that has already started, with last week's announcement that Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse will open next spring in 8,000 square feet in the JDM Place building -- which itself is undergoing a $5 million renovation and expansion. Work also proceeds on two California Avenue buildings, with plans for loft apartments, restaurants and retail/office usage. Bricktown property owner Jim Brewer plans to add a $6 million retail and office site in the area.

The single most important piece of development to sustain crowds could be the proposed Edwards Theater complex. Planned for a Christmas 2000 opening, the retail development by TMK/Hogan along the south side of Bricktown remains embroiled in a legal challenge brought by Moshe Tal, whose own proposals for the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority property lost out to those by TMK/Hogan. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is expected to hear Tal's appeal next month. Last year, Bricktown enjoyed an estimated 3.8 million visits. Once the theater moves in, Youngblood expects that number will surge to 7 million in 2001. …

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