OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — On Thursday, the MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) held their regular monthly meeting. While a technical glitch made it impossible to live-stream the meeting as it happened, Free Press was able to catch up after the City of Oklahoma City posted video of the meeting to its YouTube channel.
After hearing a financial report from MAPS Program Manager David Todd, the CAB made swift work of moving forward on several projects.
Architect and engineering services for new bus stop shelters, and an RFP for operators for the forthcoming Henrietta B. Foster Center was approved.
In a significant move, the CAB approved a Master Development Agreement for the planned Innovation Hall complex in the “Innovation District.”
Finally, the CAB accepted a waiver of a waiting period to allow for staff to negotiate a contract with a vendor for improvements on the downtown arena.
Marty Peercy reports Local government
The Citizens Advisory Board heard a presentation from Jason Cotton, Program Manager at consulting firm ADG, about the proposed Request for Proposals for an Operating Partner for the Henrietta B. Foster Center MAPS 4 project.
As with most MAPS projects, an independent operator must be found to actually run the facility once construction is over.
The facility currently holds a community center that provides services such as lifeguard training.
City staff expect that most community center functions of the facility will move to the new Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center that is under construction at Booker T. Washington Park.
The new Foster Center is planned to be an entrepreneurial incubator located in what City officials call the “Innovation District.”
An operator is expected to be selected by April 2022.
A major project planned for the Innovation District is the “Innovation Hall.”
Innovation Hall is planned to be a large multi-building site that developers insist will be open to the public.
The first of the three buildings will have ample office space as well as a laboratory space that will be visible from outside the building. Again, developers claim this will be open to the public.
The second building will be a hotel on 8th Street with 107 rooms. No mention of this being open to the public was made.
The third proposed building is the titular Innovation Hall, a place where the wealth of existing entities and new entities can be built.
The project also includes the private entity taking over Oklahoma City’s oldest public park, Stiles Park. The CAB was reassured that the beloved “Beacon of Hope” will remain the center point of the park, but that the park will be otherwise enhanced with place making and wayfinding between the OSU site, “OSU Discovery,” and the OUHSC, as well as the rest of the District, with connections to downtown Oklahoma City.
BT Development, along with the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority and the City of Oklahoma City, will enter an agreement on the Master Plan of this site.
$10 million of MAPS 4 dollars are committed to this project, but with the stipulation that the developers must generate an additional $10 million. The estimated budget is $20,038,479.
The CAB on Thursday allowed MAPS 4 staff to forego a process wherein permission to negotiate a contract with a vendor would be approved, allowing staff to choose and negotiate a contract with a vendor for improvements to the downtown arena.
According to Program Manager David Todd, this is something that happens occasionally when there are time constraints and the “interview team” assessing vendors agrees on a party.
The interview team agreed on the company Populous for architectural and engineering services for the improvements.
One member of the CAB, Harry Black of Ward 3, asked if this was a common practice.
Todd responded that it happens sometimes.
“It’s rare,” Todd said, “but commonly rare.”
It is worth noting that the company selected in this process is the same company responsible for the architecture and engineering of the MAPS 4 State Fair Park arena.
Throughout the meeting, David Todd was coughing and clearing his throat. Consultant Jason Cotton also had a gravelly tone to his voice.
With infections of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 sweeping the nation and crowding hospitals, it must be asked if it is appropriate to hold public meetings in person.
At one point, Todd introduced a speaker and then was seen very plainly removing his mask in order to cough.
The City of Oklahoma City does not require masks in City Hall, nor negative COVID tests, to report to work.
Disclosure: Marty Peercy is the husband of Oklahoma City Council member JoBeth Hamon.
Last Updated January 13, 2022, 3:51 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor