Aug. 30--A mixed-use, urban environment that includes a baseball stadium that would likely house the Tulsa Drillers is planned for an area of downtown to be called the East End.
Mayor Kathy Taylor said it is exciting that private developers with a proven record are investing in Tulsa.
The proposed development will encompass 14 blocks of what was once going to be called the East Village. The site is within the Inner Dispersal Loop from Eighth to Second streets between U.S. 75 and Elgin Avenue.
Global Development Partners of Washington, D.C., has been working with local officials for a few years on a plan to convert about 34 acres of downtown into a regional destination point, said Mitch Adwon, the president of Adwon Properties, which represents Global Development in downtown land acquisition and development.
Tulsa Partners I LLC, owned by Global Development, closed July 27 on its first tract, which is a little more than an acre. It has contracts on an additional 28 acres, which is enough property to make the development work, Adwon said.
Closing on the remaining tracts is set for mid- to late fall, he said.
Global Development initially considered a soccer stadium for the development, but that fell through, Adwon said.
Kevin Justh, Global Development's senior vice president of finance, said the anchor would be an 8,000-seat, state-of-the-art baseball stadium. Also planned are retail, residential, hotel and entertainment venues, he said.
Chuck Lamson, the president of the Tulsa Drillers, confirmed Tuesday that he is having "substantial discussions" with the developers.
"We are interested but still working out leasing issues," he said. "Nothing has been finalized."
Justh said he thinks Global Development and the Drillers are very close to signing an agreement.
Lamson said a project of this nature would be great for Tulsa, even if a ballpark is not involved.
"But if we can come to an agreement, we would be excited about being an important part of an project like this," he said.
Justh said Global Development considers Tulsa to be a great market.
"When we looked at it, we really liked what we saw," he said.
Global Development is so confident about the project that is has already posted a marketing brochure on its Web site to attract retailers.
The brochure states that East End will consist of more than 1.9 million square feet of mixed-use development, including more than 450,000 square feet of retail and dining experiences, 800 urban living units, three high-quality hotels, 150,000 square feet of modern office space and the stadium.
Justh said Global Development planned to integrate the best mix of uses that will accommodate a large daytime population and nighttime residents.
Ideally, buildings will have commercial space on the ground floor and owner-occupied residential space above, he said.
Justh would not identify specific retail vendors or entertainment venues being sought for the development.
The brochure also states that by the spring of 2009, "the East End will deliver a live/work/play/stay environment to Tulsa and a destination of choice for its regional trade area."
Justh said the public would begin seeing the first phase of the development within a few years, once construction begins. The entire project is expected to take about five years, he said.
Although the marketing brochure is on the Internet, Justh said, "it wasn't intended to be the press announcement for the project. It's still a little premature."
Global Development also isn't prepared to release the expected cost of the project until it submits the financial structure to Taylor.
Justh did say that the group will ask the city for the creation of a tax-increment financing district.
In a TIF district, some of the property and sales tax revenues generated from a development can be used to fund infrastructure improvements that normally would be the responsibility of the developer.
The city has several TIF districts downtown. Its newest one is in southwestern Tulsa, where the Tulsa Hills shopping center is being built.
Justh said it is important to have a private-public partnership to make this project work. The firm doesn't plan to seek sales tax funding.
Taylor said she met with the developers to talk about Tulsa and their vision and about the possibilities for the Drillers.
She said one appealing aspect of the East End project is that Global is working with a local group that knows what the scene should be downtown.
"This is very exciting. This is a start to getting Tulsa on the radar screen," she said.
She added, however, that it is premature to know what the public funding role will be until she has seen the financial data and plans.
Taylor said having this type of investment in downtown provides a confidence level that is needed to help move downtown forward.