Oklahoma Steve Lackmeyer answered questions from readers Friday during the OKC Central live chat.

Steve will be doing live chats every Friday at 10 a.m. Readers can log into their Oklahoman.com account and add questions and comments about events in and around Oklahoma City.

Here’s a quick overview some of the questions Steve answered Friday.

Will the First National Center boost more OKC destinations?

Shane H.: Steve, it’s kind of magical to walk down Park Avenue and see First National bring life and active storefronts to the street. What do you think and what are the prospects for it to stimulate more new shopping/retail/restaurant destinations in the central business district?

Steve: First National has added a good mix of high-end retailers that are really bringing back window displays and the kind of shopping that will draw locals and visitors alike. We’re going to see some empty storefronts benefit from the ongoing economic recovery, starting with the opening of Be Healthy Cafe in the space previously occupied by Coolgreens. I think we will also see changes at 100 Park Avenue. Mark Beffort, whose group owns Leadership Square, is holding the spaces previously occupied by Bank of America and the Medicine Cabinet in hopes of filling both spaces with new retail.

ExamWhy Stock & Bond is raising the steaks for the revamped First National Center

Where is the new Oklahoma County Jail going?

Steve R.: Any word on the location of the new prison? I heard about it less than 10 minutes from the courthouse, but nothing specific.

Steve: I don’t have any specific knowledge on this one, so it’s pure speculation. The jail should be somewhat close to the courthouse. We know there are people who go through the justice system who often struggle with addictions, mental health and homelessness. We have a large corridor of social service providers along General Pershing Boulevard and we will see the new MAPS 4 Diversion Center being built nearby on Linwood. My best guess is that we might see one of the potential locations appear along Pershing Boulevard. It seems logical to me.

Developments or new apartments in downtown OKC?

Matthew W: A word on the multiple developments in the Midtown area? With the rise in interest rates, are these projects still moving forward?

Steve: We are seeing a LOT of development in Midtown in 2023. Bond Payne is on track to begin construction of The Citizen, a mix of office, hospitality (not sure what that will mean yet) and retail . Midtown Renaissance Group is proceeding with office and retail construction across from Fassler Hall. And Clay Farha is set to build a mix of 60 apartments and ground floor retail across from the Plaza Court building.

To quote the old ad, “But wait! There’s more!”

We see apartments being built across from the old Villa Teresa School campus on Classen Drive. And Marva Ellard reports that sales of new condos on the east side of campus are doing well and that several closings are underway. The conversion of the original buildings into a boutique hotel is set to begin next year with work underway including site preparation and water pipe upgrades. I’m tracking at least one other significant development that we may see announced in 2023.

Tune in next time

Steve Lackmeyer

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Steve Lackmeyer started at The Oklahoman in 1990. He is an award-winning journalist, columnist and author who covers downtown Oklahoma City, urban development and the economy for The Oklahoman. Contact him at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Oklahoman reporters by purchasing a subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com.