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Improvements to downtown OKC continue

Current developments to downtown Oklahoma City, OK are attracting more people to visit, live or work in the area.

The projects downtown include a new convention center, a park, new hotels and a streetcar. According to KFOR, the first seven streetcars arrived in Oklahoma City last month—nearly five years after the city council approved the project. EMBARK spokesperson Michael Scroggins said the streetcars will alleviate the number of vehicles on the road at any given time.

Because the streetcars must run for 300 miles each before anybody can get in them, they will not be open to the public until the end of this year, KFOR said.

“The east-west loop will run a little over two miles, connecting the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Cox Convention Center, Devon Tower and the future downtown park and convention center,” KFOR said. “The north-south loop will cover almost five miles and connect most of the Bricktown route, Automobile Alley, the Central Business District and Midtown. That loop will take around 40 minutes round-trip.”

According to NewsOK, the streetcar is already attracting new businesses, including an eight-story TownePlace Suites by Marriott. Another large development underway is Scissortail Park, which is located south of the Myriad Gardens.

According to the MAPS 3 Department, Scissortail Park is 70 acres—extending from the core of downtown Oklahoma City to the shore of the Oklahoma River. Construction on the north section of the park will be completed in 2019, and the south section will be completed in 2021.

KFOR said the $132 million project will feature a lake, boathouse, playground, eating area and performance space.

“A park is for the ages,” Mayor Mick Cornett said. “It’s not going to be just for a decade or two. This is for all time.”

The city council recently approved designs for the new convention center, which cleared the way for construction to begin as soon as June. The building will open in mid-2020, NewsOK said.

Students at Oklahoma Christian University have many opportunities to experience downtown Oklahoma City. Senior Baylee Hyatt interned with Devon Energy Center for 10 weeks last summer. According to Hyatt, the accounting department had four interns who were Oklahoma Christian students, but in total the company had about 30 interns.
Hyatt said Devon provides their interns with housing, which comes with stipulations. Because she is from Kingfisher, OK, Hyatt said she barely made the minimum mile distance. However she said she got to stay at the Edge at Midtown with other interns.

According to Hyatt, Devon allows its employees to choose alternate work schedules, so she worked 80 hours over two weeks and was off work every other Friday.

“I was taking an online summer class, so I didn’t necessarily explore all over the city, but I tried some new restaurants and saw different parts of Oklahoma City that I hadn’t really seen before,” Hyatt said. “During the week, some of my mentors took me to new places to eat near Devon through the Skybridge tunnel system that I didn’t know existed.”

Hyatt said some of her favorite new places to eat downtown are Sweets and Eats, Waffle Champion, Anchor Down and Kitchen 324.

“Honestly, all of downtown is so cool to me,” Hyatt said. “I have driven by but not really through it. The tunnel system and improvements are fun to see. I have been downtown plenty, but living in Oklahoma City was completely different.”

Because the commute from where she stayed in Midtown to Devon was only about 10 minutes, Hyatt said she probably would have used the streetcar at least a couple times if it was available.

“I really believe 2020 will be huge for downtown with the opening of the convention center, Omni and the boulevard, which will follow the completion of Scissortail Park and the streetcar,” Steve Lackmeyer said. “Add to this the completion of West Village along Film Row, the Steelyard in east Bricktown and an array of infill projects in Automobile Alley, Deep Deuce, Bricktown and Midtown.”

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