Entertainment's OK in Oklahoma City's Bricktown District
Entertainments OK inOklahoma Citys Bricktown District
Entertainment and specialty retail will find another home in Americas heartland with the anticipated spring 2000 opening of Bricktown Entertainment Center in the old warehouse district of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The $120 million, 400,000-square-foot project under design by Perkowitz + Ruth Architects, Inc. (949-721-8904), will revolve around a $30 million, 22-screen Edwards megaplex theater featuring an IMAX 3D component, plus 75,000 to 80,000 square feet of retail and restaurants in phase one, a colorful boulevard with kiosks for retailers, cafes, a high-tech video arcade, a new canal weaving through the complex, and extensive landscaping. Phase two includes a mid-size hotel and additional retail.
Names of other tenants were not released, but project sources said they have an eye on a high-tech restaurant/entertainment entity that would occupy 40,000 square feet.
Crafting a Visionary Oasis
"We are crafting what should be a visionary oasis where a diversity of entertainment, retail and commercial elements will attract local residents and visitors to a very special destination," commented Marios Savopoulos, director of design at Perkowitz + Ruths Newport Beach office.
The projects developer is TMK/Hogan (405-270-4659), a joint venture between Hogan Property Management LLC of Oklahoma City and Stonegate Management Co., of Birmingham, Alabama, a wholly owned subsidiary of Torchmark Co., a publicly traded insurance and diversified financial services holding company.
Bricktown is the name given to the citys warehouse district for its predominance of brick buildings. The Bricktown Entertainment Center is being built on 50 acres of vacant land where some of the smaller warehouse buildings once stood but were acquired and demolished by the city over the years. The new center will continue the theme with the liberal use of decorative brick, cobblestone-like pavers, slate accents andtextured concrete, and will expand on an already popular community of restaurants in downtown Oklahoma City. According to Randy Hogan of Hogan Property Management, the warehouse district began converting to restaurants and office uses many years ago and now contains a variety of trendy spots such as Spaghetti Warehouse, Obuelos, Chilinis, Bricktown Brewery and Crabtown.
Area Attractions Draw Crowds
Visitors to Bricktown topped 3.6 million in 1997, Hogan said, partly due to the restaurant traffic and partly for a series of events such as the annual Blues Festival and the July 4th celebration, which draws 40,000 to 60,000 people each year. The University of Oklahoma in Norman is a half-hour drive away and provides considerable customer flow on weekends, Hogan said.
At the core of Bricktown Entertainment Center will stand the 134,000-square-foot Edwards Theatres complex framed by two enclosed lobbies a grand lobby for entrance and tickets, followed by an inner lobby for concessions. The 22 screens will accommodate 6,000 customers in extra-wide seats with state-of-the-art projection and audio equipment. Hogan said Edwards expects to draw 1.5 million viewers annually, adding that he hopes the Bricktown Center will boost the districts total traffic to between 5 million and 7 million.
The nearest comparable movie theater is a new 20-screen Cinemark Tinseltown about four miles away in the northeast sector of the city, according to David Jones of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority (OCURA). "There may be an old movie theater closer in, but I dont think so," Jones said, adding that he considers the Cinemark theater "a bit of a gamble" because there has been little retail development in that area, whereas Bricktown has an established traffic flow.
Massive Infusion of Public Funds
Bricktowns revitalization is the result of a "massive infusion of public funds over the past 10 years," Jones said, transforming the area from a vast array of abandoned buildings to a thriving office and entertainment district by beefing up police patrols, improving streets and lighting and funding new public buildings. Yet to come in the district are a Hammond Hotel, a Renaissance Marriott and the new arena, all within walking distance of the entertainment project, he said.
Phase one, which also will include 75,000 to 80,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, Savopoulos said, is expected to cost about $47 million, including the canal and public amenities. In the second phase will be a mid-size hotel and additional retail, bringing the total project price tag to $120 million. The cost of the hotel alone could be $70 million to $80 million, he said.
"As conceived by the development and design team, Bricktown will emerge as a signature destination, enhanced by the use of theatrical lighting design, colorful building materials and a landscaping concept orchestrated with every architectural and planning element of the project," Savopoulos said.
Architects Help Set the Ambience
Perkowitz + Ruth is working with city officials on the design and construction of canal walks, fountains and plazas to provide the links between Bricktown Entertainment Center features and the rest of the Bricktown area. Bricktown is one of nine projects in a massive downtown revitalization project being conducted by the OCURA (405-235-3771). Public contributions to this project include a $28 million AAA baseball stadiumfor the Oklahoma Redhawks and an $18 million canal bringing water from the North Canadian River almost a mile away, according to Garner Stoll, city planning director.
The baseball stadium is directly across the street from the Bricktown Entertainment Center site, and a proposed 20,000-seat arena for ice hockey, basketball and other indoor events will be at the western end of the site. The canal, which will be accessible to the boating public, will enter the site from the north and weave through, passing directly across the front of the theater in a bowl-like public plaza, surrounded by broad brick-stepped terraces, which could be used as an amphitheater for outdoor stage events.
The public projects are being paid for through a Metropolitan Area Project (MAPS) tax program consisting of a one percent sales tax for five years that is expected to net $360 million. Other projects include a fairgrounds, a new convention center, a hockey/basketball arena, renovations to the performing arts center, a new library, reconstruction of the bombed-out Federal Building and the surrounding area, plus a memorial and museum related to the Federal Building bombing.
$24 Million (Private) for a Museum
A unique feature is a $24 million art museum being built downtown entirely with non-public funds, including $6 million from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, to replace the current city-owned museum located by the fairgrounds on the edge of the city, and which is too small to display all the art it owns, Stoll said.
The MAPS program which originally anticipated $240 million and has now grown to $360 million ends in January, 1999, and will result in debt-free financing for the public projects, although city officials are seeking anextension of the MAPS tax because they need about $11 million more.
Striking the Deal
TMK/Hogan and Edwards Theatres Circuits Inc. paid $3 million for the land they will use, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority put that $3 million back into development of amenities along the canal. "You could say they got free land," said Stoll.
City council has set a January deadline for final development contracts to be executed, and groundbreaking will follow, according to Stoll. The final choice by the city council of TMK/Hogan was "a very controversial selection," Stoll said. The developer had been selected already, when a competing proposal from another local firm forced a showdown. A council vote to reconsider the developer selection ended in a 5-4 vote in favor of TMK/Hogan last May. Wounds from that battle are "healing," said Stoll.
"This is our first entertainment center," Hogan said. "Were fairly active in retail in the area," he said, noting that his firm represents Home Depot in the Oklahoma City area and is developing a waterfront restaurant on nearby Lake Hefner. Torchmark developed Rancho LaQuinta Country Club in LaQuinta, California, where the "Skins" game is played, and Liberty Park, a 2,500 acre upscale planned community in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, outside Birmingham. The development includes retail and office complexes of a traditional nature.
Management and leasing will be handled by TMK/Hogan and financing is not yet settled, Hogan said. "We have a couple of options, with letters of intent. Well start on that next month." Groundbreaking for the Edwards Theater is scheduled for April, 1999, and the grand opening is set for April, 2000.