Archive for City Scene

Kind of an inner-Ring suburb

From yesterday’s real-estate section:

12901 Endor Court in Rivendell addition to Oklahoma City

About the project itself:

A custom home by Craig Smith Building in the Rivendell addition will be decorated by 18 local businesses for a fundraiser to benefit The Sparrow Project, a nonprofit, faith-based organization supporting services to intellectually disabled adults.

The Sparrow Show Home, 12901 Endor Court, will be open to the public June 8-23 with all entrance proceeds going entirely to The Sparrow Project.

“The Sparrow Project fills a huge gap for those with special needs in our community, and we wanted to help. The local businesses that have jumped in are bringing something to this home for everyone: great design and furnishings, outdoor living ideas and even some surprises in the garage spaces,” Craig Smith said.

The Sparrow Project provides a safe environment for post-high school adults with intellectual disabilities to promote happy and fulfilled lives through job skills, life skills, creative interests, and social activities.

Which is a swell idea, especially here in Middle-earth.

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Fifty stories to tell

Some guys were washing the glass on the outside of Devon Tower, and were reminded just how high the Big Drill Bit in the Sky actually is:

There’s a whole lot of broken glass at street level, and it may take a while to clean up the debris. Casualties: zip, which is always good news.

(How high is it? Try 844 feet, a good 300 feet taller than anything else downtown.)

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Dollars 101

A course you will never see in New York or San Francisco:

High school students in Natrona County [Wyoming] are required to complete a financial literacy course in order to graduate.

“The main goal is for students to leave these courses empowered financially,” Natrona County High School Assistant Principal James Catlin told the board.

Catlin said that NC students typically take the course in their junior year.

The course provides skills and information for students to manage themselves financially. That includes lessons on how to plan for a career, how to fill out tax forms, how to prepare a budget, and more.

“It”s a super powerful class, and if you haven’t seen it, you should come around,” Roosevelt Alternative High School Principal Shawna Trujillo said.

It probably should not surprise anyone that Natrona expects students to comply with a dress code:

Something else you won’t see in NYC or SF.

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It’s just a block away

We’re losing someone from the neighborhood, which is a shame; however, this house is now on the market.

One block over and one block south

Built in 1947, this 3-bedroom, 1½-bath home has 1386 square feet of living space and a single-car garage. They’re asking $170,000.

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i blame jet fuel

And, of course, the desire of government agencies to expand their reach:

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is putting billboards across the city to remind Oklahoma residents that where you live could affect how long you live.

“It’s a shocking statistic,” said Oklahoma City-County Health Department executive director Gary Cox.

The gap is 18 years.

It’s the number that separates the average life expectancy age from the highest average zip code in Oklahoma City to the lowest.

“So what that really means is a child that’s born in one of those zip codes … could live up to 18 years average shorter life span than a child that perhaps may be born in a suburban or another part of our county,” said Cox.

At best, this is only half a surprise:

The lowest life expectancy age, almost 64, is zip code 73145.

Otherwise known as … Tinker Air Force Base.

Which Farker noticed this first? Why, the first one, of course.

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Fare thee well

I knew that rideshare stuff like Lyft and Uber was cutting into the taxi market, but I didn’t think it was this much:

This leaves two competitors: OKC Twister Cab and Thunder Cab. I have spotted a couple of Orange Cabs around here, but I’m not sure if they’re local or just passing through.

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I can too be a chooser

I was turning onto my street when I saw her, trudging along at maybe half speed. Be nice if I could move that fast, I thought.

I went through the usual gymnastics it takes to get me out of the car, and there she was at the top of my driveway. “I’m four months pregnant,” she said, “and I’m awfully hungry.”

Well, yeah, she looked about four months pregnant. I thought for a moment, then peeled off a five-spot. “Maybe this will help.”

She didn’t even bat an eye. “You can’t get anything to eat around here for less than eight.”

The audacity of “Help!” Never heard that pitch delivered quite that way before.

I handed her another fiver and went inside, on the sensible basis that I probably didn’t want her to see me unloading a trunkful of groceries.

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Warded off

Half of the eight seats for City Council were up for grabs today, and since the Ward 2 incumbent chose not to run again, there were two questions yet unresolved. (The other one: how does a city of 650,000 get by with only eight wards?)

The polling place, as usual for elections at this level, had about three poll-watchers per voter. At 5:03 pm I cast ballot number 195 in precinct number, um, 195. This is perhaps disappointing when you consider that at least 1251 voters — the number voting in the gubernatorial race — turned out for the 2018 fall extravaganza.

But so be it. Good luck to the winner, whoever that might be.

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Mirror image

From the list of city building permits in yesterday’s Oklahoman:

Duplex to be built at 911 NW 13

Ought to be a pretty darn spiffy duplex, if it costs that much to build.

Me, I wonder: are both sides 911, or will one of the units be redesignated as 909 or 913?

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Presumably beer was held

Float, float, float your truck, gently down the — hully crap, this is like eight feet deep:

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Um, guys, it’s not the early 1990s anymore. They don’t actually have to mow the riverbed the way they used to.

(Fillyjonk showed me this.)

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I spy with my little hidden eye

Now and then, we all, for certain values of “all,” like to take a peek. Then there are those who go way overboard:

A workman accused of hiding cameras in two homes to spy on young girls was charged Friday with more than 20 felonies, including aggravated possession of obscene material involving minors, manufacturing child pornography and using video equipment in a clandestine manner.

Is it just me, or does that last charge — “using video equipment in a clandestine manner” — sound rather vague?

Ryan Aaron Alden, 39, of The Village, placed hidden cameras in the ceiling vents of two homes, one in Nichols Hills and one in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County prosecutors allege. He reportedly placed the cameras in the homes while performing electrical work.

The cameras were hidden for months, Nichols Hills police reported.

“He got the idea of hiding the cameras and where to put them from watching pornography,” police reported in a court affidavit. “He informed me that the residents were always very trusting and that is why he ‘preyed’ on them.”

Alden also is accused of taking clandestine photos of girls in numerous public places, including gyms, schools, stores, mall changing rooms and a high school football game.

The upskirt-gatherer is, I suggest, the lowest form of perv: it’s not that his offense is especially heinous, but it goes several steps below banal.

Alden was being held in the Oklahoma County jail Friday on $251,000 bail. He also was sued Friday by the mother of the Nichols Hills victim.

What are the chances this guy has ever had a normal romantic relationship?

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Where it all goes (’18)

Butch Freeman, the County Treasurer again — he was re-elected this past week — can be counted on to send out a notice to us lowly escrow-payers telling us just how the county is spending the proceeds from our property-tax bills. As is the usual practice around here, I’m passing the details on to you (last year’s numbers in [brackets]):

  • City of Oklahoma City: $122.21 [$123.21]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $465.42 [$479.27]
  • Metro Tech Center: $122.23 [$124.74]
  • Oklahoma County general: $92.63 [$96.57]
  • Countywide school levy: $32.75 [$33.43]
  • City/County Health Department: $20.49 [$20.91]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $41.13 [$41.98]
  • Total: $897.31 [$915.19]

This year’s millage is 113.44, up a pittance from last year’s 113.35. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) The assessed value, per the Assessor, is off a few bucks from last year, has increased by a whopping 1.3 percent over the last four years, and still hasn’t broken a hundred grand despite the notions of sites like Zillow, whose Zestimate starts at $114,000. Then again, I’ve been here long enough to fall under the state’s cap law: they can’t jack up the assessed value more than five percentage points in any single year, unless the property changes hands, and as of 2019, the valuation freezes solid, an example of Senior Discounts I can, um, appreciate.

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A Nice win

Her birth certificate says “Alberta Nicole Swanegan Owens,” but no matter. She’s been Nikki Nice for years, a name she built for herself working for Russell Perry’s urban-formatted radio stations, and a name she’ll undoubtedly continue to use as Ward 7’s representative on City Council.

And apparently she’s going to have to look for another radio job, since Perry let her go the day after the election: “We’ve taken a different direction,” he said, saying it had nothing to do with her winning the Council seat.

Nice will be sworn in on the 19th, and she’ll draw her Council salary starting from then. It’s not enough to live on, though: Council members are paid $12,000 a year. (The Mayor gets twice that.)

Addendum: I was pointed to this video from her watch party Tuesday night:

It wasn’t even close: she got over 70 percent of the vote.

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Area man buys house

One year, Daughter and I were cruising around town looking at houses, and after one too many mansions, she asked: “What sort of millionaires buy these places?”

17408 Hawks View Ct

This little starter home sold for $715,000 last month to Terrance Ferguson, age 20 and almost a half, shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is paid $2,118,840 a year, and is under contract for the next three years, with a team option for the fourth.

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The cost of Costco

At the top of this week’s City Building Permit list:

Building permit for OKC Costco for $21,583,787

This does not include $1,770,000 for 13220 N Western, which is presumably the Costco gasoline station.

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Here today, gone tomorrow

Oh, I’m sorry. It was gone yesterday:

Another mid-century landmark, the former Founders Bank, is being destroyed this week as new development continues to encroach on 1960s architecture that once dominated the skyline along Northwest Expressway and May Avenue.

The football-shaped Founders National Bank building at 5613 N. May, built in 1964, is anchored by two 50-foot exterior arches. It was last home to Bank of America.

What used to be Founders Bank

Preservation Oklahoma placed the bank on its endangered places list earlier this year. The committee that assembled the list noted the former Founders Bank is one of Oklahoma City’s best examples of mid-century modern architecture, and it’s the only known local design of the architect and former Bruce Goff student, Bob Bowlby. The building’s arches, a landmark on North May Avenue and Northwest Expressway, removed the need for any interior walls inside the bank.

A building permit for demolition was filed at City Hall Monday morning at the same time Midwest Wrecking began tearing down the structure.

Clearly they didn’t want anyone noticing until it was too late.

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And all will be fulfilled

AP wire, late May:

Amazon.com announced plans to open its first fulfillment center in Oklahoma, creating more than 1,500 full-time jobs by the end of 2019. The more than 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will be located in Oklahoma City.

“We’re excited to open our first fulfillment center in Oklahoma and in a city with an outstanding workforce and a commitment to providing great opportunities for employment,” said Mark Stewart, Amazon’s Vice President of North America Customer Fulfillment. “Amazon is committed to creating a positive economic impact in Oklahoma City and enhancing the customer experience throughout the region.”

Oklahoma City building permits, The Oklahoman, 7 July:

Seefried Industrial Properties, 9201 S Portland Ave., office-warehouse, (Amazon), erect, $150,000,000.

A sensible place for Amazon, a mile and a half southeast of Will Rogers World Airport and a quarter-mile west of Interstate 44, just inside Cleveland County. The Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust has already approved $1.7 million worth of tax incentives for Amazon, in exchange for job creation and capital investment at the facility. There eventually will be about 1500 jobs for actual humans at the plant, and God knows how many robots.

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Where a need was seen

Saturday’s Oklahoman generally contains a list of Oklahoma City building permits, and this one was on top yesterday: Positive Tomorrows, 901 N Villa Ave., school, erect, $8,000,000.

This is not what you’d call an up-and-coming neighborhood:

Bing map of NW 8th and Villa, Oklahoma City

Then again, this is exactly where they need to be:

As Oklahoma’s only elementary school specifically for homeless children, we give kids stability and a quality education while their parents get the support they need to create a better life. For over 25 years, we have filled our scrapbooks with countless success stories, but the need continues. Together we can break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

The new school doubles the available space, though there’s no possible way they can accommodate more than a tiny fraction of the estimated 4,000 homeless kids in the area.

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The wild, wild northwest

Prompted by Chuck Pergiel, I tried this out myself:

Copernix.io view of near-northwest Oklahoma City

Copernix tells you about the most interesting places around using info from Wikipedia.

This is their idea of near-northwest OKC, and while some of it is fairly inarguable, “Uptown Oklahoma City,” which lies largely along NW 23rd Street east of Classen (and of “The” Classen), is nowhere near where Copernix (and presumably Wikipedia) says it is.

The northwestern-most point of this map is roughly at NW 60th and May.

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Shooter now inactive

It started something like this:

Shortly thereafter:

Zach Nash of the city’s public-information office passed this around:

There is no longer an active threat following a shooting this evening near Lake Hefner. Avoid the area of Britton Road and the Lake Hefner Parkway.

A family reunification center has been opened at the Lighthouse Center, 3333 W Hefner Road.

The media will be briefed as soon as possible at a news conference to be held on the east side of the freeway near Britton Road.

The only confirmed fatality is the suspect. He was apparently shot to death by an armed citizen. Three citizens were injured, two of whom were shot. A large number of witnesses are detained.

Um, thank you, good guy with a gun. (Who, says a local news guy, had a concealed-carry permit.)

Update: CNN’s take on the story.

Updae again: They’re saying the two victims — there may be a third — were females, which somehow makes this look just a tad less random.

Further update: An Oklahoman reporter tweeted this Friday:

Sounds like some legislators in this state.

The Gayly interviewed Tilghman back in January. Guy was a total nutbag.

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Having gone around

Why, look, it’s coming around again:

Six Flags Entertainment Corp. has struck an agreement to acquire lease rights to Oklahoma City’s Frontier City and White Water Bay, the Texas company said Tuesday.

Frontier City and White Water Bay, as well as the three other out-of-state parks acquired by Six Flags, are operated by Premier Parks LLC of Oklahoma City. The deal returns the two local parks to Six Flags, which controlled them more than a decade ago.

Backstory:

In 1989, two amusement industry executives started Premier Parks in Oklahoma City with the acquisition of Frontier City, followed by White Water Bay in 1991. The success of those parks ignited Premier Parks’ growth and led to the acquisition of Six Flags Theme Parks in 1998.

Child devours parent.

In 2007, Florida-based CNL Income Properties Inc. bought the two Oklahoma City parks and five others from former owners Six Flags Inc. for $312 million.

Six Flags itself went up for sale in 2005; at the time, the largest single shareholder was Red Zone LLC, owned by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Regrets (I’ve Had A Few) Dept.: I have never actually been to White Water Bay. Officially, this is because I am a mediocre swimmer at best. Back in the early 1990s, I admitted to someone that I thought swimsuits were silly.

She gave me a “You didn’t know?” look. WWB, she said, had one late-night session each summer in which swimsuits were deemed, um, unnecessary. I never did find out for sure.

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As another closes

I’ve never met Caleb or Jessica Hill, and I have no reason to think they’re at all related to me. But by some weird bit of cosmic timing, I got to see their names twice in the paper this weekend, under the same heading: Land Sales.

First:

Whitney Fisher and Randell C. Fisher from Caleb and Jessica Hill, 3308 Oak Hollow Road, $740,000.

Quail Creek Golf and Country Club is sort of a horseshoe shape, open at the east end; this house sits on half an acre close to the middle of that open end. It was built in 1966, and this is still considered one of the better northside neighborhoods; the Hills arrived in 2012 for just about half the price they got for the sale. Nice return if you can get it.

But maybe they don’t need the space as much as they did. Here’s the second listing:

Caleb Hill and Jessica Hill from Traci D. and Jeff D. Turley, 6116 NE 105, $465,000.

Never been out to Oakdale Valley, where this home is located; I know from Oakdale School, a highly regarded PreK-8 school in its own little district, but there’s not a whole lot out there nearby. Then again, 73151, at the far northeast of the OKC ZIP code map — cross Hefner Road, three blocks to the north, and your mail goes to Edmond — might be the wealthiest ZIP in the entire range. This house sits on a smaller lot (0.31 acre, barely bigger than mine), and is smaller than where Caleb and Jessica used to live. Let’s see what Trulia had to say about it while it was on the market:

Entering through the double doors into the spacious entryway and dining area you will feel right at home. The living area is charming with a cathedral ceiling, floor to ceiling stone fireplace and windows that light up the room. You will enjoy cooking in the kitchen with a gas cooktop, ample counter space, and lighted custom cabinets. Wind down after a long day in the master suite, Jacuzzi tub or a steamy shower. Each of the 3 large additional bedrooms have bathroom access and are on the other side of the house. The upstairs bonus room is the place to be for fun and entertainment. The view on the patio is just beautiful. Exquisite landscaping designed by Oakleys. Oakdale Valley is a fantastic neighborhood that offers a gated entrance, community pool, clubhouse with exercise facility, greenbelts, fishing, rolling hills and acres of trees.

And, five will get you ten, a Homeowners’ Association. (Addendum: I got my ten.) I have to wonder if “gated entrance” was a major factor in the buying decision.

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Bomb bursting in air

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a place like no other; no one who has seen it — around 300,000 visitors a year — has been unchanged by it.

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Around the corner

If for some reason you’ve always wanted to live by me, this home will put you on the next block:

4708 North Miller Avenue, Oklahoma City

Built in 1947, this house has three bedrooms, two baths, and about 1881 square feet of living space. They’re asking $189,900.

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I read about blue and green

Big Blue, of course, is the city’s standard trash bin, picked up once a week. Until recently, there existed a Little Blue, a curbside box for recyclables. This never really caught on, and so a green bin, slightly smaller than the blue one, is being distributed to city homes, and which will be picked up every other week starting in the summer. I got my Green Monster today; since it will be some time in July before they start picking up recyclables, I think I’m going to see how many pizza boxes (cardboard, y’know) it takes to fill the bin.

The horror story at okc.gov: https://www.okc.gov/departments/utilities/recycling.

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Welcome to the jungle

It starts in your back yard:

The boy reports he was sitting on the patio last night smoking his cancer sticks and minding his business. He looked up and there stood a large red fox staring at him, about 10 feet away. The boy jumped and the fox did too, both thinking “What is he doing here?”

Okay, maybe not in your back yard, but almost certainly nearby:

You might not think this so very strange, the ‘burbs are populated by wildlife — coyotes, coons, opossums, deer, chipmunks, and such. The neighbors reported a fox a few times last fall. What is unusual is that my backyard is surrounded by a 6’ tall privacy fence. The boy said he wondered how the beast got in, only to get his question answered. He watched the fox turn and with a quick burst of speed the fox jumped the fence easily.

Chipmunks may not seem like much of a threat, unless you’re maintaining a bird feeder. Deer, however, have treated friends’ gardens like their own personal salad bars.

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On offer in Middle-Earth

From this weekend’s Oklahoman real-estate section:

Houses on Endor Court in P. B. Odom III's Rivendell addition in south Oklahoma City

This cul-de-sac ends the 12900 block (I think) of Endor Court in the nearly thirty-year-old Rivendell Addition on the city’s south side.

A map of the area shows very clearly that one does not simply drive into Rivendell:

Map of Rivendell addition in south Oklahoma City

A long-standing city policy in action: as long as you keep the east-west streets consistent with the city grid, so the fire department can find you, we don’t much care what you call the north-south (or whatever) streets.

Future expansion might reach as far as 134th.

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Just around the corner

NextDoor dropped this little zinger into my threads:

100 homes in your neighborhood

I need hardly point out that I live a lot closer to 33rd Street than to that snazzy Gaillardia-area manse.

And these two houses are a good twelve miles apart, a half-hour drive if traffic is unfavorable, which it usually is.

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Turn here, or somewhere

Not geared toward the tourists, anyway:

I wasn’t here when the townships of Oklahoma City and South Oklahoma were merged, way back in 1890, but the ironclad grid we have today wasn’t quite so griddy back then:

One of the most compelling shots is from Day Three — the 24th of April, 1889, two days after the Land Run — showing rows of tents (there were no permanent structures yet) seemingly knocked out of position along the sides of the rudimentary street. This was a legal matter: two different townsite companies were platting the place, and their survey lines didn’t quite match. For decades thereafter, north-south streets downtown had a noticeable “jog” at Clarke Street, later Grand Avenue, now Sheridan Avenue.

Which says something, since the nearest section-line road is Reno, two blocks south. Six miles north of it, at Wilshire Boulevard, there are jogs even today. Six miles south is the Cleveland County line.

(Via Dustin Akers, who used to live in these parts.)

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A mayor to be named later

“It’s been pretty steady,” said an official at the precinct when I arrived to cast my ballot for Mayor of Oklahoma City. The place was empty at the time, so it must have been steadily slow. Ballot #169 went into the box at almost precisely 5 pm. I’ve seen worse, but not much worse.

(For those keeping score: we use paper ballots, optically scanned. I don’t think anyone in this town would prefer that fancy computerized stuff.)

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