Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taft Middle School

Historic Taft Middle School, built in 1930 at May and NW 23rd, is getting an $8 mil renovation which includes 6,000 SF of new classroom space. The school will be able to accommodate 700 students after the renovations are complete.

Jackson Middle School

Jackson Middle School, built in 1930 at Villa Ave and Commerce Street in S. OKC, is receiving a $9 mil renovation including an expansion annex. The school is being expanded in order to handle being converted from middle school to Pre-K through 6.

Northeast Academy

Located at Kelley Ave and NE 30th, Northeast Academy is a charter school occupying a historic building built in 1934 that is targeted for $7 mil renovations in the MAPS for Kids plan. The renovations are to give the school an overhaul and increase its capacity to 750 students.

Northwest Classen High School

NW Classen High, located off North May and NW 27th, was built in 1952 and serves students that live in the historic districts NW of downtown. As a part of MAPS for Kids, the school is receiving a major $16 mil complete renovation. Right now the project is still in the community discussion phase.

Emerson High School

Emerson Alternative School is a charter high school located at Walker and NW 7th in the heart of MidTown. The school was built in 1894 and is receiving a $1.5 mil renovation as a result of MAPS for Kids. They have not yet begun.

Classen School of Advanced Studies

Classen SAS, built in 1919 and located at Emerson and NW 19th (right off Classen Blvd), is another MAPS for Kids high school that's getting a significant $7 mil facelift as a part of the $700 mil inner city schools initiative. Renovation's haven't started but in July 2008 the architect was notified to begin on schematic designs. The school will just be renovated and not rebuilt.

Capitol Hill High School

Capitol Hill High School, built in 1928, is a historical masterpiece that had been falling apart for a long time and earned a reputation as one of Inner OKC's hardest high schools. As a result of the $700 mil-taxpayer initiative to rebuild inner city schools, Capitol Hill is going to get a $10 mil renovation that will bring new amenities to the school such as ... air conditioning, among other great things. The school will not be demolished like some other schools due to its status as a significant example of Prairie Gothic architecture. The school is located at Grand Blvd and Walker Ave, in a diverse area of S. OKC.

Douglass High School

* Note, whoever's job it is to put the MAPS for Kids info up on the web needs to be shot, and someone with a camera and organization skills needs to take their place. The new Douglass is a beautiful school, but no photos online to show for it.

The first of OKC's new MAPS high schools to open was Douglass, located off of MLK Blvd and NE 10th. The high school, which was established in the late 1800s in NE OKC, covers the downtown area in its district today and has been completely rebuilt and reopened in 2005. For $32 mil, the Douglass accommodates 1,200 students, has 81 classrooms, features a cafeteria, media center, 1,800-seat gym, and a theater/auditorium center. It also has a brand-new football stadium finished in 2006.

U.S. Grant High School

Through 2005 and 2006, old U.S. Grant High School was completely torn down and rebuilt at a whopping price tag of $32 mil. The school was built for enrollment of 1,700 students and has 82 different classrooms, a cafeteria, media center, 2,200-seat gym, and a theater/auditorium center. Located off South Penn and 50th Street in the heart of inner S. OKC, the area's population base is growing and becoming more and more diverse. The new U.S. Grant will better meet the needs of its surrounding community and be an exceptional educational environment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Downtown Trolleys

The smallest of all MAPS 1 projects, $5 million was spent on rubber trolleys that circulate passengers and tourists around the Downtown/Bricktown area. Service has been ongoing since 1999.

Interestingly, this aspect of MAPS was originally planned by Mayor Norick to be full-blown light rail. Funding for that however was stripped by Congressman Earnest Istook who opposed light rail for OKC and refused to send any federal funding its way. Luckily the City today is ready to proceed with full-blown light rail and we anticipate a light rail announcement with MAPS 3 at the end of this year. The original MAPS 1 light rail line would have been 1 mile on the elevated BNSF tracks and then expand out from there. Pictured is a rendering of the proposed stop at 2nd Street.

Ford Center

For $89.9 mil dollars the City's crowning MAPS 1 project was the Ford Center, which has brought unbridled prosperity to OKC when it opened in 2002. It seats about 21,000 and has 586,000 SF. Not only is the Ford Center a top-grossing concert venue, but it also hosted the NBA's Hornets for 2 years, many trade shows, the CHL's OKC Blazers, the AFL's OKC Yard Dawgz, OKC's new permanent NBA team, and is in a rotation with KC for the Big XII Basketball Tourney.

When the Hornets came the the arena was 3 years old and the City was already prepared to invest a few million in technical improvements to bring it up to NBA minimum standards. The Ford Center exceeds both the NBA and NHL minimum standards. In 2008 voters improved $121.8 mil in improvements to make the Ford Center one of the NBA's best arenas, in order to make a more convincing case for the SuperSonics. The improvements include a 12,000 SF family center, a new concourse, a new entrance and main lobby, technical improvements, new scoreboard, new restaurants on every level, 2 new rooftop gardens with skyline views, NBA offices, locker rooms, etc.

Oklahoma River dams

In 2004 the City had spent $53.5 mil and 5 years on realizing the long-term goal of putting water back in the N. Canadian River, which has ran dry ever since the US Army Corps of Engineers dammed it after several major floods. Today the goal is to have a civic riverfront used for events that attracts major private and public development. The Oklahoma River has become one of the most exciting hotspots of development since it was finished during the end of MAPS 1.

Cox Convention Center

The Cox Convention Center was an existing I.M. Pei-designed facility that MAPS 1 renovated completely with renovations ending in 2000, totaling $60 mil when finished. The just-over 100,000 SF facility includes a 25,000 SF grand ballroom, several conference halls, 3 main exhibition halls with more than 25,000 SF, a new Renaissance Hotel connected by skywalk, an interior reflecting subtle Native American influences. The Cox Center also has an arena that seats around 15,000 that is most known for hosting the Big XII Women's Basketball Tourney when the Men's Tourney is across the street at the Ford Center. Today, OKC has vastly outgrown using the Cox Center as its main convention venue and a new facility is in planning phases.

Civic Center Music Hall

Civic Center Music Hall is a gem of performing arts centers. $53 mil in MAPS 1 renovations to this venue turned it into one of the most impressive performing halls in the Southern US. The grand music hall seats just under 3,000 and is the home of Ballet Oklahoma, the OKC Philharmonic, as well as many theatrical companies and Broadway plays. Built in 1937 as Municipal Hall, the renovations ending in 2001 added skyboxes, a hydraulic orchestra pit, more seats, a new look, and a coffee shop in the lobby.

Downtown Library

The Ronald Norick Downtown Library, named after the OKC mayor who envisioned MAPS during the 90s, was the last MAPS project to open upon completion in 2004. For $21.5 mil, Downtown OKC got a 112,000 SF central library with 4 stories and iconic architecture. The first 2 floors provide library and research services, the 3rd provides business services, and the upmost level has conference amenities for nearby schools and corporations. Along the east edge there is a restaurant.

Bricktown Canal

The Canal was one of the original MAPS 1 projects and has become an OKC landmark that people around the nation recognize OKC by. The mile-long Canal opened in 1999 (with Phase 2 and 3 improvements in 2004) and costed the City $23 mil; it's lined with parks and old warehouses full of restaurants, clubs, lofts, and businesses. The Water Taxis offer sight-seeing tours and romantic date cruises. Over 500,000 OKCers came out for the ribbon-cutting of the Canal back in 1999.

Bricktown Ballpark

Part of the original MAPS 1. The $34 mil project opened in early 1998 as the first of the MAPS projects to open, which began a shifting of public opinion in favor of downtown renewal. The ballpark seats just over 13,000 and is the home of the Oklahoma RedHawks AAA baseball team. It sits at Reno and Mickey Mantle Street in the heart of Bricktown, and features a plaza dedicated to Mickey Mantle. On the northwest side of the ballpark is a Coach's Sports Bar and a Hideaway Pizza.

Other than hosting the RedHawks, it plays host to Bedlam Baseball every year, the Big XII Baseball Tournament every year, major concerts, Bricktown's 4th of July, and other major events that bring thousands into Bricktown frequently.