Allan Storjohann’s office is about to disappear. Things are being torn up all around him. And he’s happy.
Oklahoma City, get ready — Project 180 has officially gotten under way. And Storjohann, manager at the Myriad Gardens, is only the first of thousands of downtown workers who will find themselves inconvenienced during the ensuing three-year-long downtown makeover. After hosting the Festival of the Arts last week, the gardens and the Crystal Bridge were shut down for a $38 million makeover.
“We accept change in gardening,” Storjohann said Wednesday. “We’re all about change. We have seasonal changes every year. To have a major change like this in the garden is something we welcome. We embrace it.”
In just the past three days, workers with Downey Construction have started removing the panels from the landmark Botanical bridge for a complete replacement of the acrylic panels.
Inside the Crystal Bridge, one can see the pirate ship where children once played has disappeared. Several large trees are missing, and it won’t be long before much of the tube-shaped botanical garden is removed altogether.
Crews with Lippert Brothers, meanwhile, have started tagging trees that will be saved, those that will be transplanted and those that will be removed as part of a first phase of demolition that must be complete by July 12.
More work will start up in July once bids are received for the second phase. Assistant City Engineer Laura Story acknowledges the turnaround time for awarding bids and starting work is “extremely tight,” but adds that contractors are working well with the city on moving forward.
Much of the Myriad Gardens makeover is being funded by Project 180 — a $141 million transformation of downtown parks, streets and sidewalks funded through a tax increment finance district established as part of the construction of the $750 million Devon tower.
As work starts up at the Myriad Gardens, bids are set to go out this summer on several street reconstruction packages that will alter workers’ driving routines and make gaining access to some businesses challenging.
Story said the first bid will be for Reno Avenue between E.K. Gaylord Boulevard and Walker Avenue. Others to follow will include stretches of Robinson Avenue and Main Street.
Story said engineers will be watching closely to see what can be learned from the first street reconstruction package.
Project 180, scheduled to be complete by 2014, calls for the addition of bike lanes, street furniture, lighting, landscaping and public art throughout the district.
Read more in The Oklahoman.