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oklahoma city

Road construction continues on NW 164th Street between May and Portland avenues in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma City is preparing for midyear budget cuts because of low sales tax revenue.

Mayor Mick Cornett and city councilmembers had been hoping for growth in the sales tax, but revenue to the city is down 4 percent.

Weak consumer spending means the city will have to cut back on its own spending by about $10 million halfway through the fiscal year.

A road sign informs motorists of the closure of the intersection of Reno Avenue and E.K. Gaylord Boulevard in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

If you’ve been to downtown Oklahoma City in the past year, you’ve probably had to weave your way around concrete barriers, dodge traffic cones, and been yelled at by your GPS due to a significant amount of construction at the base of tall office buildings.

A lot of that is part of Oklahoma City’s Project 180, which grew out of tax increment financing that helped build Devon Tower.

An artist’s conception of a proposed hotel that would be attached to downtown Oklahoma City’s new convention center.
Provided / Omni Hotel and Resorts

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma City Council voted 7-2 to pursue negotiations with the developer Omni for a proposed hotel attached to downtown Oklahoma City’s new convention center that’s part of the MAPS 3 series of projects.

Members of the Choctaw Nation gather at the Hugo Community Center to hear details on the new water deal from attorney Michael Burrage.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma. The deal has been praised by state leaders as a historic accord that ends the tribes’ lawsuit that blocked Oklahoma City’s plan to pump water out of the region.

Oklahoma City University economist Russell Evans, at lectern, addresses the Oklahoma City Council Tuesday.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma City University economist Russell Evans told city council members during Tuesday's meeting there's still a lot of economic uncertainty. 

Evans typically speaks to the city council in February when it’s time to plan the annual budget. But he was asked to give a special presentation after some council members pointed out that the city was suffering more than usual for its ties to the oil and gas industry, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:

Midwest City’s Heritage Park Mall.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s been about six years since the last few tenants moved out of Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City.

A lone retailer remains – Sears – and a local megachurch also holds it services there, but city leaders hope to revitalize the property and have issued a request for proposals to rehabilitate it.

The Journal Record’s editor Ted Streuli says the idea has been in the works for years, but recently the city council in Midwest City approved a matching $27,000 grant for requests for proposals. The money would come out of Midwest City’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Renovation continues on the Sunshine Cleaners building at 1012 NW First St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

In April the Oklahoma City Council approved $550,000 in tax increment financing, or TIF money, for the dilapidated Sunshine Cleaners building just west of downtown.

About the only remarkable thing about the building two blocks from the Oklahoma County Jail is its beautiful neon sign. The roof has caved in, the windows are broken, and satellite imagery even shows an abandoned vehicle inside the building.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has been a prominent figure during this week’s Republican National Convention.

He delivered speech Monday on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, having just taken over as the group’s president in June. Oklahoma City’s elections are technically non-partisan, but Cornett does identify as a Republican (he made it to a runoff with Gov. Mary Fallin in the 2006 Congressional primary when they vied for U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook’s old seat). During Cornett’s address in Cleveland earlier this week, he talked a lot about the success of Republican mayors across the country.

Workers repair a road in Oklahoma City, July 9, 2014.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Mayor Mick Cornett says the next iteration of the MAPS sales tax could be used to repair crumbling infrastructure in Oklahoma City, but reiterated it likely won’t come this year.
Voters will consider renewing Oklahoma City's general obligation bond in 2017, and a street development impact fee will also take effect.

Two women join hands with Oklahoma City police officers to pray during a Black Lives Matter rally in Oklahoma City, Sunday, July 10, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Organizers of Sunday's Black Lives Matter rally in Bricktown praised Oklahoma City police for their response and restraint during the event. Oklahoma City officers mostly provided security, and at one point created a perimeter between the activists and counter-protesters across the street.

"I’ll be honest, they have been absolutely great,” said Karen Gaines, one of the event’s three primary organizers. “They have been tremendously helpful, just all the way around. They’ve asked us if we needed anything. They were very supportive actually.”

More than 1,000 demonstrators march down the Walnut Ave. bridge in Bricktown during Sunday evening's Black Lives Matter protest.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement marched in downtown Oklahoma City on Sunday to call for policing reform.

Protesters chanted “We come in peace,” “What do we want? Justice,” and “Black lives matter,” as they filled up the pavilion in front of the Harkins Theatre in Bricktown. Along the way, some stopped to share a hug or handshake with on duty Oklahoma City police officers. The demonstration was peaceful, and speakers called for systemic changes for how police interact with minority communities.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

More than one thousand people marched through downtown Oklahoma City for a protest against the treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement, and to honor the five officers killed Thursday in Dallas.

The group gathered just north of Bricktown and marched down the Walnut Ave. bridge past the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and assembled near the fountain in front of the Harkins Theatre.

Mick Cornett, the mayor of Oklahoma City, grew up there and saw the city he now leads rebound from the 1995 bombing of the Murrah federal building. He’s the incoming head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which meets in Indianapolis this weekend.

In a conversation with Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd, Cornett weighs in on how a city recovers from a terrorist attack, and describes the crisis facing virtually every mayor in the U.S.: how to pay for repairs to crumbling infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Workers install a stone façade outside one of four Senior Wellness Centers being built as part of Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3 program.
Samuel Perry / The Journal Record

Several Oklahoma City civic leaders gathered Tuesday evening for a town hall meeting to discuss the city’s 10-year general obligation bond issue, which voters won’t decide until next year.

Oklahoma City’s water treatment facility at Lake Stanley Draper.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The Oklahoma City Council approved contracts Tuesday that could help bring more water to the metro from southeast Oklahoma.

The council approved seven separate construction design contracts worth more than #13 million, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:

The city of Oklahoma City’s Chisholm Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant at Coffee Creek Road and N. Western Avenue in Edmond.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The company that agreed to pay a nearly $1 million fine for water problems in Hugo earlier this week could soon get a new contract. The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust Authority unanimously approved the proposed contract with Severn Trent Services on Tuesday.

The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports Councilman Pete White, who sits on both bodies, said he’s convinced the problems in Hugo were an aberration, not a pattern:

Workers erect scaffolding outside the First National Center building in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council discussed making changes to the tax increment finance district, or TIF, for the area affected by MAPS projects.

The council wants to increase the budget for the downtown MAPS district – adding $40 million to bring the total to $165 million.

“The says that the investment so far has already brought in $1.8 billion in private money, and adding the $40 million would bring in another $1 billion,” said The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks.

The site of the MAPS 3 park in downtown Oklahoma City.
Samuel Perry / The Journal Record

Ever since the 2009 passage of the MAPS 3 sales tax incentive that would fund a series of civic project in Oklahoma City, residents have been waiting for the park.

The so-called "core-to-shore" vision would connect the Myriad Botanical Gardens with the Oklahoma River, with an already-built pedestrian bridge bisecting Interstate 40 and connecting the two halves of the 70-acre greenbelt.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett during the January 13, 2016 State of the City address during a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber luncheon.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett was upbeat during Wednesday’s 2016 State of the City address.

Cornett touted a 10 percent decrease in the crime rate, and ran through a number of publications that ranked Oklahoma City as one of the best places in the country to start a business or visit.

The Obama administration plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, despite criticism that they could present a security hazard. Few Syrians have been settled in Oklahoma, but 40 years ago, a wave of refugees from Vietnam arrived in the state. Those Vietnamese newcomers helped reshape a dying part of Oklahoma City. Jacob McCleland from KGOU reports.

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