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When the Design Review Process Works

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Two images are on the Internet right now for the proposed Criterion concert venue in east Bricktown. The first image is one I received Thursday afternoon with the developers’ application to the Bricktown Design Review Committee that would have had the entrance mid-block.

I held the story, however, after seeing some confusion in the application – the property was purchased by the owners of the nearby Wormy Dog Saloon, yet I’ve been hearing for months they were not going through with their effort to build a new Wormy Dog Saloon and had extended the lease for their current location. I had also been tracking information the past few weeks that a new developer was set to take on the task of bringing a big time music venue to Bricktown.

That developer is Matt Maley, an oil & gas guy and real estate investor from Colorado. And he has high praise for how the city’s planning staff, most notably Michael Philbrook, have handled the application to date:

“Michael Philbrook has been amazing.... We submitted it and in three hours, he gave back comments on what felt the city would or wouldn't approve and gave nine different possibilities to look at. Within two days, we gave the revised plan. It was a great turn around.... To get that kind of a feedback and looking readily at your plans, he could have just accepted the application and said nothing. We would have burned up a month of design and waiting around. With those comments it's effective and it's efficient. It's really one of the best things about working in Oklahoma City. We're looking for other projects to do. It's an area we want to focus on.”

So what did Philbrook suggest? Among other things, Philbrook recognized that the original design ignored the corner of Sheridan and Charlie Christian Avenues and pretty much buried the marque and entrance at mid-block. Philbrook knows that a Springhill Suites is set to be built to the east at the opposite corner of the intersection and the Steelyard apartments will be built across the street. This is going to be a great intersection – and a dead corner would have been terrible for its future.

This is the view now:

East Bricktown, which for years was bypassed while the rest of the former warehouse district turned into a lively urban entertainment area, will be transformed by all this work (and at least two more projects are yet to be announced). The construction trailer at right is where the 250-unit Steelyard apartments will be built, with a hotel anchoring the corner of Sheridan Avenue and Russell Perry Avenue. Expect the remainder of the block to be developed as a second phase of apartments soon after construction begins on the first phase. To the left, on the vacant lot, is where a 126-room, five-story Springhill Suites is set to be built by hotelier Atul Patel. The Criterion will be built where the last remnant of the Stewart Metal Fabricators plant still stands, center.

So what can we expect in addition to the Criterion?

Model of proposed Steelyard Apartments on the east edge of Bricktown, on Thursday, Sep. 25, 2014.  Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Model of proposed Steelyard Apartments on the east edge of Bricktown, on Thursday, Sep. 25, 2014. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

East Bricktown is going to look very different in three years.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›

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