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No Special Effort at Design for Core to Shore?

Proposed Best Western for Core to Shore


This week may offer up some of the most damning evidence yet that the months spent by members of the Core to Shore Task Force for almost a decade amounted to a lot of pretty renderings, massive public spending, but little connection to the realities of private development or the means to guide it.

In my latest story in The Oklahoman, we learn that yet another limited service hotel is set to be built in the Core to Shore area, and not only could it and another hotel complicate picking a site for a new convention center, but the height and density of these projects fall far short of what was envisioned for Core to Shore.

The Fairfield Inn is cleared to move forward after changes were made at the request at the Downtown Design Review Committee. The committee’s guidelines, however, really aren’t very well tailored for Core to Shore. I can’t recall any discussion by consultants or the task force about how to best use the Downtown Design Review Committee in helping implement the goals for the Core to Shore plan.

Oh wait, there’s a reason for that. The Downtown Design Review ordinance was still being set up as the Core to Shore task force was wrapping up its work. Yes, that was almost a decade ago. And the conclusions of the task force, which lacked representation or involvement from neighboring districts like Bricktown, have pretty much gone unchanged despite the passage of time and changing development trends.

Sure, there have been tweaks at different levels, but the planning document remains in place.

But at least we have the Downtown Design Review Committee to scrutinize plans – especially when they are a standard template drawn up to be used in any location. We saw this with the first plans submitted for a McDonald’s in Bricktown several years ago. We saw this with the first plans submitted for a new Chase Bank branch at Broadway and Dean A. McGee. And we’re apparently seeing this with the image at the top of this post that shows the proposal for a Best Western in Core to Shore.

Look at the image – and then visit the “classic prototype” page for Best Western. Yep. It’s the same set of drawings. And yeah, it looks awfully familiar to anyone who has traveled across the country. I won’t bother listing locations for the following Best Western “motels” (that’s what the developer here is calling the proposed Best Western for Core to Shore). After all, seeing how little effort went into designing properties unique for these various communities, does the character of any of these towns matter to the chain itself?




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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 ›