Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Channels: Video That Illuminates

Spend some time viewing the slickly developed animated video located at You can learn a lot about the mindset of the promoters.

First you're challenged to "Imagine"...Tulsa. But in what is the first major gaffe of their promotional efforts, their bias pops out. You are then shown 15 seconds or more of images of Tulsa to help you "imagine Tulsa." What are the images of? Downtown Tulsa.

Then you're cued about a "Strong, Healthy Community," as you fly over a blurred out West Tulsa, looking off to the vista of, what else, downtown and the river. Magically, "The Channels" fades into the river.

I don't get the connection to strength and health, but hey, why challenge a well financed "feel good" marketing piece?

The next section is worth pressing the pause button a few times, as you see more details of "The Channels" morph into the picture. The first of three islands (let's call it the North Island) appears to have a marina and four high rise condos that seem to rival those seen along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. If you're buying what Tulsa Stakeholders are selling, then grab a piece of paper and pencil and let's start some tick marks. The North Island yields four high rise buildings that are either Class A condominiums, Class A office complexes, or a combination of both. At the feet of the four high rises are what appear to be three to four-story condos or office buldings.

Press play again and let's move on.

The largest of the three islands is the Center Island, which is the more public and commercial of the three, from appearances. This is where we find the unique "canopy" that will lend some degree of "climate control" to the outdoor market. Despite being the largest of the three islands, this mock up only shows two high rise buildings. Tick mark...Tick mark. Now we're up to six high rise buildings out in the middle of the river. Hey...what's that white frothy stuff just to the east? Is that a big fountain? Do we get the big fountain for our $600 million in public funding?

Press play and let's look at the South Island.

Whoa! Goes by fast, but I counted 9, if not 10, high rise buildings. Tick...tick...tick. How many high rises does that make?

I count no fewer than 15 skycraping, rent generating monolyths of the future. That's a bunch. And we're not talking about some stubby little buildings, either. These babies appear to be between 15 and 30 stories high. Quite an assemblage of new skycrapers we're getting for our $600 million in public funding, huh?

The rest of the animation shows "quality of life" enhancements that we should all get to enjoy after we've sunk 15 years worth of tax money into their development. That is, if you can find parking...which I never see in the conceptuals. Brick pathways...wind mills generating clean, renewable energy to power our future...a wind surfer throwing caution to the wind and saying, "dirty brown salty water don't scare me, I'm a 'strong' and 'healthy' member of the 'community'"...vibrant shopping amidst flying Frisbees™ that would never dream of bonking an elderly, yet strong and healthy shopper in the head.

You don't even have to "Imagine," because their marketers are doing it for you.

All told, a minute-and-a-half of what a mere half-billion tax payer dollars, might get you.

Now let's go back to those tick marks we were keeping, because they should have you thinking seriously about what you're being sold.

Fifteen new Class A residential and/or office properties. Wow! How do you think Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman are feeling now about the values of their multi-million dollar investments in downtown Tulsa's older office buildings? How about the myriad of other owners of downtown and other Class A properties that are looking at such a serious over-saturation in new properties?

Here's Test Number One regarding the bill of goods we're being offerred:

If the developers of The Channels truly believe their fancy conceptualizations are what you're really going to get when this project is completed, then anyone seeking funding for the "Vote No" campaign need look no further than the current owners of Tulsa's nicer office and condominium properties as a funding source.

Why? Because they're going to see their investments dwindle to next to nothing, coupled with the reality that Tom Baker of the Mayor's office still is pushing to have their buildings retro-fitted for sprinkler systems, which will cost them hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.

So what's the test?

If these investors remain silent, then you know that they've been assured that the high rises are just part of the "bread and circusses" that are being sold to the public to get the tax money approved. If these investors don't help fund an opposition effort, then that fancy animation is just "sizzle," and you're not going to get the "steak" you saw on the menu.

Come on folks. The reality of our real estate markets in this town is that we're over saturated in everything. The home builders have glutted the residential markets and are feeding off of the suburban flight movement that is just getting fired up [remember the Bixby Bridge, our other public/private offering?]. The reason you're not seeing cranes in the air atop new office buildings is there is no demand for new buildings.

Construction of fifteen or sixteen new towers will deflate the property values of existing Class A properties the same way every new housing project in the suburbs deflates the value of existing homes in the city.

I'm guessing though, Tulsa Stakeholders doesn't really think any of those fifteen structures will be least not until the marketplace could support them, which is in ten to fifteen years at best.

So, what will your children get, while they're waiting for the new towers that your children's children are going to get? Vacant park land, that's what.

But vacant park land in a conceptual drawing doesn't elicit the requisite "Oh boy...gotta have that!" response that will get you to separate yourself from your tax dollars. Not like "pie in the skyscrapers" will.

Next time you see a "Stakeholder" ask 'em about the buildings.

Let the dialogue continue.

1 comment:

Paul Tay said...

Not to worry. Chief Ellis will soon put an end to this hoax. Relax, enjoy the show!