Archive for May, 2010

Much Ado, Over What?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write about this but waited until the time seemed more “right.”

For the uninitiated here’s the back story. Sandridge Energy, one of the largest oil and gas firms in Oklahoma, wants to expand its downtown Oklahoma City headquarters campus (the area formerly owned by Kerr-McGee) by tearing down several mid-rise structures and erecting a new building next to a park across the street. Here’s a link to an earlier story on the proposal.

That seems like a simple enough thing to do, right? A major corporate tenant should have the ability to do whatever it wants with its property as long as it’s within the boundaries of the law, correct?

However a funny thing happened on the way to the permit office. A huge and surprisingly vociferous brouhaha has broken out over one of the buildings set for demolition.

The India Temple, built in 1902, once housed the Oklahoma legislature, among other things, and is considered the city’s oldest building. Now that’s nice and all, but the problem is, nobody really noticed it and when they did, it was viewed with derision.

I attended the Christmas tree lighting in front of Sandridge’s headquarters tower next door to the India Temple in December and remember thinking what an eyesore it was. Many questioned why it was left standing.

So, I’ve been watching and listening to the discussion about this issue for the past month now. It’s been really entertaining really. But finally someone else has said what I’ve been thinking all along.

Click here to read Terry Clark’s new blog over at the Journal-Record on the matter. Way to go Terry.

THE Big Question at ICSC

Monday, May 24th, 2010

To be sure, there will be several major story lines at the annual ICSC show, also known as RECon and still the largest confab of retailers and retail real estate folks on the planet.

There’s the ongoing saga of General Growth Properties’ emergence from bankruptcy. And whether Simon Property Group can find some interesting way to park its $7 billion in capital somewhere.

But to me, the overarching story line is more subtle, but nevertheless important.

Will the GGP team execs still be donning those neon-green blazers?

OKC Improves Economic Standing

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

A new ranking of top local economies finds Oklahoma City in a much improved position for 2010. According to Palm City, Fla.-based Policom Corp., OKC jumped to 75th from 97th in 2008. But wait, the news gets even better. The rankings go back to 2004, when OKC was a lowly 183rd, so the improvement is stark.

It’s also positive news compared to the recent movement in rankings for other cities. New York, for example, fell from 43rd in 2009 to 62nd in 2010.

The story is a little different for neighboring Tulsa, which saw its ranking fall to 142nd from 139 in 2009. Tulsa fell from its best showing in 2004, when it was ranked 84th.

Policom specializes in analyzing local and state economies, and annually ranks the 366 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and 576 Micropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington topped the annual list of top Metros for 2010, improving from 12th in 2009, while Edwards, Colo. finished atop the heap among the so-called “Micropolitan” areas which are smaller urban centers.

“The top rated areas have had rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period of time,” said William H. Fruth, Policom’s president. “The rankings do not reflect the latest ‘hotspot’ or boom town, but the areas which have the best economic foundation. While most communities have slowed or declined during this recession, the strongest areas have been able to weather the storm.”

The Policom study measures 23 different economic factors over a twenty-year period to create the rankings. The formulas determine how an economy has behaved over an extended period of time. Data stretching from 1989 to 2008 was used for this study.

It’s Alive! Entrepreneurism, That is

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

NOTE: Ok, fair warning. This blog entry is not directly related to the commercial real estate industry, but you might see an interesting underlying, if not plain feel-good, message.

Even in these still somewhat troubled economic times, it’s nice to see glimpses that the entrepreneurial spirit that made America such a great place is still alive and well.

Lemonade DayTake Lemonade Day. That was May 2, in case you missed it. I know I did, but here’s some info I found on the occasion:

HOUSTON–On Sunday, May 2, aspiring, young entrepreneurs launched 80,000 new businesses across the country through Lemonade Day 2010 (www.lemonadeday.org). With the help of the community, more than 160,000 youth in 14 U.S. markets participated in the free, nationwide event dedicated to teaching youth how to start, own and operate their own business through the simple, time-honored act of building and running a lemonade stand.

Some highlights from Lemonade Day 2010 include a Houston group of visually-impaired youth participating with the help of a Lemonade Day workbook in Braille and a group of Chicago urban youth who helped customize the workbook to be more relevant to their peers.

Started in 2007 by Houston entrepreneur and philanthropist, Michael Holthouse, Lemonade Day exists to infuse today’s youth with the spirit of enterprise, teaching the basic business & entrepreneurial skills necessary to become successful, contributing members of their communities.

“Lemonade Day is an experiential learning process that teaches youth what they aren’t learning in their classes or at home,” said Holthouse. “Lemonade Day breathes new life into today’s youth and inspires them to reach their true potential.”

This year was the first year the organization expanded beyond the Texas boundaries to 14 cities throughout the country. For a full list of cities that participated in Lemonade Day 2010, visit www.lemonadeday.org.

Lemonade Day plans to expand to several new markets in 2011 including Phoenix, Omaha and Louisville. The ultimate goal is to expand to 100 cities and have one million stands running on a single day in 2013.

About Lemonade Day:

Prepared 4 Life (P4L) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children positively impact their communities. Since 2007, Lemonade Day has been P4L’s number one educational priority – an annual, free, community-wide vehicle for introducing entrepreneurship to youth. Through the simple, time honored act of building and running a lemonade stand, participating youths will enjoy a sense of self-worth and empowerment while learning the value of earning a dollar in a fun way. By 2013, Lemonade Day hopes to expand to 100 cities and impact one million youth in a single day. For more information, visit www.LemonadeDay.org.