Archive for March, 2010

Convention Center Hotels – Pros and Cons

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A battle is brewing in Austin, Texas, over proposals to build a new convention center hotel. And it’s shaping up as a classic city/economic development issue versus local residents.

AustinHiltonOn one side are civic leaders, led by the mayor and head of the convention and visitors bureau, who say that Austin is losing convention business because there is not enough hotel room capacity to support more conventioneers.

But local analysts and consultants maintain that now is not a good time to build, given the continued soft economy.

The city did build a new Hilton downtown in 2003, immediately following the convention center’s $110 million expansion in 2002.

The main point of contention is what’s known as the “Field of Dreams” thesis, build it and they will come.

Here is the latest story on the discussion from the Austin American-Statesman.

Devon Construction Cams – One is FREE

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

If you’re going to show a building site as impressive as the new 50-story office tower now under construction in downtown Oklahoma City for Devon Energy, a camera, or cam, with a bird’s-eye view is the only way to go. It’s genius in fact, considering the age of the Internet.

And oh by the way, you should make it free to anybody interested in watching the inner workings of how a skyscraper is built these days.

That brings us to a tiny conundrum — right now there are two construction cams overlooking the Devon site. However, viewers have a choice, since one is free to anyone with an Internet connection and the other is tucked behind a pay wall, with access granted only to paid subscribers to the Daily Oklahoman.

The NewsOK cam is on a higher perch and slightly snazzier as it’s a streaming feed and gives viewers an occasional zoom-in to particular parts of the site that might be more active on certain days. Once the tower gets taller (which won’t be long), it might offer better views.

DevonConstructionCam192Still, the cam on was the first of its kind (up since October 2009 for Pete’s sake), ground breaking as it were, and updates frequently enough, every minute, to be “real.” Check out a sample image from the cam to the left.

I like FREE and highly recommend you keep tabs on the cam on right here.

ULI Confab = Pros and Cons

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Having attended the Friday session/presentation by the Urban Land Institute on its recommendations on the Core to Shore redevelopment in Oklahoma City, I was struck by several things.

First and foremost was the overflow audience. This is obviously one of Oklahoma City’s largest initiatives, particularly since aspects of C2S touch the recently passed MAPS program, including a new convention center, central park and headquarters hotel. They also impact the now fairly established views by many business leaders in town as to how these properties should be sited.

Also, many will argue that less than a week is a pitifully short timeframe in which to derive solid recommendations for such an important endeavor. While I’m inclined to agree with that point to an extent, I also know the depth of talent and respect that the ULI brings to the table. I challenge anyone to spend 15 minutes with former Indy Mayor Bill Hudnut and not come away impressed with his knowledge of how cities should work.

Past experience with these sorts of charettes has revealed some spot-on thinking. As we await the final report, due in the next four months, it will be interesting to gauge how the C2S planning plays out.