Part III - What's next?
A look at some new developments that will help fuel downtown’s renaissance.
Tulsans are going to begin experiencing a new downtown over the next year or so. Construction and renovation plans will emerge as tourist and entertainment centers, hotels and living spaces.
Here is what downtowners and visitors will see:
- The newly renovated Mayo Hotel and Lofts will open at 115th W. Fifth St. in August 2009 after a $40 million renovation designed to evoke the facility’s glorious past.
Macy Snyder, whose family owns the building, says she hopes that swell of optimism many Tulsans feel when they visit the BOK Center will be duplicated with her project.
“I think it’s something to be proud of,” she says of the BOK Center. “And I think the Mayo will be the same way.”
- The $3 million First Street Lofts will open at 310 E. First St. Sept. 1, 2009. The building includes 12 single-story lofts and six two-story lofts, all of which developer Michael Sager says are unique because they feature open floor plans; unique materials such as solid hardwood floors and brick walls; vista views; and a rooftop deck perfect for watching Tulsa Drillers games in the new ballpark. Five of the lofts had been pre-leased as of press time.
- ONEOK Field, the new home of the Tulsa Drillers baseball team, is scheduled for completion by April 2010.
The $60 million project includes the stadium’s construction and acquisition of the surrounding land for mixed-use development.
The Tulsa Stadium Trust will own the facility and is overseeing the financing, construction and redevelopment of the area around it. Construction began in December 2008.
Located west of the Green-wood District, and bounded by Interstate 244, North Elgin Avenue and East Archer Street, the field and what it may bring has downtown watchers excited.
“The ballpark sets the tone for ongoing family fun downtown,” says Eric Gomez, who represents District 4 on the City Council. “We’ve been lacking that.”
The new ballpark could play an important role in the effort to make downtown a more pedestrian-friendly place, says developer Jamie Jamieson, who created The Village at Central Park, a neighborhood on downtown’s east side, several years ago.
“Baseball stadiums have a long history of integrating into compact urban environments,” he says, citing facilities ranging from Chicago’s Wrigley Field to Denver’s Coors Field as examples.
He believes ONEOK Field can have the same impact subject to the design approach.
“It’s at least as important to Tulsa in creating an urban environment as the arena,” he says.
- The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park broke ground last Nov. 17 on a three-acre tract across the street from the new ballpark. Construction is expected to be complete by spring 2010. The project also calls for the eventual construction of the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Center, a facility that will include a research library and museum.
“The park will be a tourist destination site, as well as a site of local interest,” says Mike Bunney, the mayor’s economic development director.
The project is intended to help memorialize Tulsa’s 1921 race riot, in which much of the Greenwood area was burned to the ground and at least 37 people were killed.
“We’ll acknowledge the tragedy, but we’ll be creating a positive out of it,” Gomez says.
- With the $50.5 million Tulsa Convention Center expansion and renovation complete, many city officials predict it will allow Tulsa to begin to compete seriously for regional convention business. Among its amenities: the 30,000-square-foot ballroom — the state’s largest ballroom — along with new meeting space, all of which is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2010.
“The convention center will have as much if not more of an impact on development opportunities (than the BOK Center),” says Jim Norton, president of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited.
Norton sees that improved facility as integral to downtown’s ability to attract new hotels, which it badly needs.
“Until we have the convention market improved here, those hotels won’t come,” he says.
The economic impact of the renovated Convention Center will be considerable, says Suzann Stewart, executive director of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The Convention Center expansion is very important because the Convention Center hosts a tremendous number of out-of-town visitors,” she says.
“And they spend a lot more money in the community than somebody coming in for a concert. Those are new dollars. Not only do they pay sales tax, but they stay in hotels, they go shopping, they eat in restaurants.”
- Conversion of the Atlas Life Building, 415 S. Boston Ave., into a 118-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel will be complete by summer 2010. First-floor tenants the Tulsa Press Club and the Atlas Grill will be remodeled as part of the project and the building’s art deco attributes will be preserved, says Jeff Hartman, operating partner of SJS Hospitality L.L.C.
- The Mayo Building lofts will open in 2010 after a $30 million renovation. A health facility, private offices and 67 apartments will be included.
- A new visual arts center at the Mathews Warehouse, 100 E. Brady Ave., will open in fall 2010.