Saturday, May 8, 2010

T-Town update

Thought I would do another Tulsa update, since quite a lot has been going on since I last mentioned them. Several new projects have popped up, primarily..a lot of new retail, which is particularly awesome to see. I enjoy doing these Tulsa updates because it feels good to talk about infill development projects, which have largely ground to a halt in OKC.

The last update was the first post focusing on Tulsa development in this blog in what..a year? two years? So this update won't be as exhaustive as the last one was..since only a month has passed, but nonetheless, you'd be surprised. If the point of my last update was "Gee guys, look at ALL of this development in Tulsa!" the point is amplified by this post, only a month later, in my opinion.

And of course, TDA up to its usual my last exhaustive Tulsa update I talked about the City Hall redevelopment proposal by Tori Snyder's Brickhugger LLC (and this is one of the only projects mentioned in the last update that I'll go into with this update). Last week was TDA's meeting where they determined the fate of that proposal, and not surprisingly, they did not award the site to the Snyders--although they didn't award it to anyone else, either. A commercial brokerage company (that does not do development) swept in with a last-minute offer of $1.1 million (Snyder had offered $1 mil). So here's the logic: Snyder's had an ongoing offer, have a great proposal, not to mention a track record in restoring bldgs such as the beautiful Mayo Hotel..commercial brokerage firm swoops in with an offer that is only "technically" higher and because their assets total over $300 mil, they'll just sit on the site for years if their asking price isn't met and nothing beneficial will ever happen with the site. Granting a deal to Snyder would be a no brainer..but now we're delayed again. Hard to believe that they're even listening to the new guys.

The ironic thing is that the City of Tulsa, ever since moving City Hall to One Technology Place, has been incurring $50,000 in maintenance losses for each month that it sits on the former City Hall site, which has now been over a year -- at least $600,000 of the city's money down the drain so far. TDA is going to end up costing much more than the cost difference between the two offers by prolonging the city's ownership of the enormous site.

New businesses opening up all over town. New 2-story wine bar opening up on Brookside called "The Ivey." Wolfgang Puck Bistro is once again progressing (construction slowed for a while) on Brookside as well. Boomtown Tees (clothing shop I mentioned in last update) is opening in June in Blue Dome. Max Retropub also opening in June, also Blue Dome. New athletic shoe store opening in Blue Dome called Fleet Feet, which will be their second location..Fleet Feet is opening next to the new Lee's Bicycles (pictured) which just opened a month ago (mentioned in last update as well). Elliott Nelson, the owner of McNellie's and 3 other DT Tulsa restaurants (El Guapo's, Dilly Deli, Yokozuma..all in the Blue Dome district), is opening a FIFTH restaurant in Blue Dome (which also has restaurants not owned by Elliot Nelson, believe it or not) will be a German-style beer hall called Fassler Hall that will feature a huge beer selection and frequent live music. The Crusty Croissant in Brookside is being replaced by a new restaurant called the "Flying Burrito."

And outside of Brookside and Blue Dome development news.. one neighborhood you never hear about, the Gunboat Park area (tucked in the SE corner of the IDL, by the Home Depot/Warehouse Market development)--is adding a really cool new retail store, an outdoor merchandise store called Just Camp. If this doesn't just say "Tulsa!," then I don't know what does: An outdoors store with merchandise on the first two floors, the third floor with fake grass and a camping area you can rent out (with stellar downtown views), all inside a minimalist Art Deco bldg. Truthfully, the facade still needs's been restored, but in my opinion they need to do something to break up the monotony on the street level, punch in some windows, a door, add a fake door or fake windows, paint the brick--anything. But it's an awesome store, an awesome concept, and it's been awesomely successful too--the 3rd floor urban campout area is completely booked several months out.

"The Joint" is a new performing arts venue opening up at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa. "The Joint" will be modeled after performing arts venues inside other Hard Rock casinos, such as Las Vegas. The $20 million, 45,000 sf facility will bring acts to Tulsa off of the casino circuit, which will differ greatly from shows that currently come to Tulsa at the Brady Theater or the Cain's Ballroom, not to mention the concerts at the BOK Center and ONEOK Field. "The Joint" will, in the end, be very similar to the concert space at the Riverwind Casino in Norman which seats 1,500. "The Joint" will seat 2,700, however--almost twice as large.

The Montereau at Warren Woods, a huge retirement village in South Tulsa, is expanding--the expansion includes two new 8-story towers that connect to a 6-story portion in the middle. The $94 million expansion will add 62 new living units and a major expansion to the on-site healthcare facility. The expansion will also add a theater, a day salon, a 6th floor lounge area, and a new chapel. Apparently in order to live at this "independent living retirement facility" it is $200,000 on top of $2,500/month dues. Montereau is off of 71st between Yale and Sheridan.

And here's the big three proposals, actual development proposals:

Land shaded blue is part of a huge mixed-use development proposal called "Talaas." Not sure what to think of this one because it's competing with other proposals for the same land, the developer is an asshole supposedly, and Tulsa's track record with large-scale development is abysmal although this project has Flintco, Matrix, Gensler, and other big names behind him. The developer itself is Formaation, a new group that has an awesome new contemporary-style office in the East Village neighborhood of DT Tulsa. The problem is that although he has some power players behind him he does not have financing, and when asked, his answer is "layers of government programs" for subsidizing his ultra-sustainable development. He's also envisioning the development of a streetcar between his Talaas development in the East Village and the BOK Center opposite downtown, that he would pay for himself, and not charge a fair for (I guess the idea is a link between his development and BOK). Interestingly, he thinks it would ONLY cost $7 million to do a streetcar linking the East Village with the BOK, which is probably 10+ blocks away. The actual Talaas project is a $400 mil mixed-use village encompassing 49 acres with all sorts of mixed uses, residential, retail, office, hotel, etc. Reminds me of Direct Development's "East End" that never got off, so we'll is different in having the local power players behind it, not to mention downtown Tulsa is a lot hotter development-wise at the moment than it was in we shall see.

Several other projects are vying for the same land though. One is a site at 1st and Greenwood with a worthless building on it currently (the Hartford Building)--the proposal is to tear it down and construct a 3-story, 60,000 sf LEED-Silver status building in its place that will be the new headquarters of the Ross Group, a local construction company. Financing in place. Second proposal is by Land Legacy for a strip of land to develop a linear downtown park as a development catalyst. KMO had a proposal to build 50 for-sale condos adjacent to the park. If you're interested in the East Village area of DT Tulsa, definitely check out these pictures on the Tulsa Now forums.

TDA's land at Boston and Archer in the Brady Arts District drew two competing proposals that were also heard at the from a Minneapolis-based company to develop a 40-unit project with underground parking using low income/new homer buyer tax credits, the other being from a local developer to do 30 condo units called Urban Green, with street level retail. I really wish I had renderings for any of the projects I just rattled off, but unfortunately you don't usually get that when a project is still in the negotiating phase with TDA. Why bother on spending the resources to develop othorgraphic depictions when who knows what's going to happen with the TDA..

Here's a better geographical depiction of the proposals. The reason the Ross Group needs the three blocks (the LEED bldg will go where the existing bldg is) is so that the other two sites, currently vacant sites, will be surface parking. Their building will be bringing in 50-60 new downtown workers, mostly high incomes. As for the Lofts at 201 Park, I'm guessing that's the name of the KMO project adjacent to the park.

The last project..this is a condo project intended for a site in the Brady District. Developer Will Wilkins hasn't yet found the right site but still intends to develop this concept on a vacant site somewhere downtown, preferably Brady. Wilkins is currently working on turning the Enterprise Building right off of Boston Ave in the CBD into urban lofts.


In closing, I want to reference this article by John Rohde in the Oklahoman. I'm not typically a fan of Rohde's, but this article is great. Rohde wrote: "Sorry to disappoint those who cling to the Tulsa vs. Oklahoma City rivalry. I’ve never been a member of that particular cult and I’m not about to join now, certainly not after soaking in the new ballpark for the first time Friday night during Game 1 of Bedlam." I'm also not one to get too caught up in the Tulsa/OKC rivalry, and I can tell it frustrates a LOT of people that I would dare even point at all of the development in Tulsa--especially when it's become my de facto response to the suggestion that the economy is why we don't see ongoing infill development in OKC. That can't be true. At any rate, Tulsa is a fantastic city, just as OKC is except very, very different from OKC--why can't a little competition be healthy? Seriously, look at all of that infill development!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tulsa seems to have done it right with the ballpark. I'd caution against assuming, however, that every watercolor you see is a done deal. OKC has had some disappointments in this regard, and Tulsa has had even more.
I love Tulsa's architecture and I'm rooting for them even as they tend to trash OKC at every turn.
- Steve