Wednesday, July 22, 2015
By Cathy O'Connor
The Journal Record
MAPS 3 is already helping Oklahoma City with attracting conferences, promoting public transit and assisting with the well-being of its citizens. While excitement grows for each new project, it is important to stop, take stock of our progress and provide an update on the continuing projects.
Through MAPS 3, the city has started many great projects to be enjoyed by residents like the streetcar system, convention center and senior wellness centers. All these projects are in different stages and, once completed, will move Oklahoma City higher up the list of destination cities.
The streetcar planning and work continues. Most recently, plans are to build the $5.3 million maintenance facility between Hudson and Walker avenues next to Interstate 40. This site puts the facility near the planned MAPS 3 downtown park and includes covered parking for streetcars.
Streetcars will approach the facility on tracks running next to the park. In total, there will be five streetcar vehicles and tracks installed along a route throughout downtown.
Another huge project that will affect Oklahoma City’s future is the convention center. The city hired a consultant to evaluate possible sites and they have been narrowed down to two potential spots. These potential spots sit east and northwest of the planned MAPS 3 central park.
The center will be a great addition to the $777 million MAPS 3 projects. Upon completion, the city will need about 2,000 parking spots to accommodate visitors. In conjunction with the center, plans to build a convention hotel are in the works, which will help provide accommodations for major conferences and events.
MAPS 3 also has a focus on the wellness of senior citizens. Four senior wellness centers with a total cost of $50 million will be completed. Construction on the 40,000-square-foot center in northwest Oklahoma City is expected to start soon.
The centers will provide low-impact fitness activities such as lap swimming and water aerobics. Oklahoma City will build the centers, but they will be managed by individual operators that will take care of routine maintenance.
As Oklahoma City continues to expand and grow, it is important to review the progress that has already taken place to pave the way for future endeavors, making Oklahoma City a great place to be.
Cathy O’Connor is president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.