I’ve recently heard about a new development project in Downtown Tulsa’s East End.
Encompassing over 14 city blocks, the East End connects Tulsa’s revitalizing Downtown to the affluent Mid-Town district of the City creating a destination that will serve a 100 mile regional trade area of over 2,500,000 people. The East End will offer over 1.9 million square feet of mixed-use development including over 450,000 square feet of retail and dining experiences; 800 units of unparalleled urban living; three high quality hotels; 150,000 square feet of modern office space; and -- as a centerpiece -- an 8,000 seat state-of-the-art baseball stadium.While this is the first I’ve heard of this project, it isn’t new. Apparently this the developers of this project have been working on it for many years now. In fact, the early proposals contained a Pro-Soccer stadium, not a baseball stadium.
When I first learned about this I had four concerns.
1. Eminent Domain. It seems like a difficult task to undertake a project of this size without the need for Eminent Domain. If ED is required for this project, than I’m against it. Fortunately it looks like it will not be necessary. I talked with someone involved in the project and was assured that almost all the property necessary for this project has already been secured at fair market prices or in some cases, better than. And the properties that have not been secured are currently under contract or are in negotiations. So my primary concern is apparently not a factor.
2. TIF. This project will likely require a TIF (Tax Increment Financing). I’m not summarily opposed it TIFs, in fact I supported the TIF for the Tulsa Hills shopping center in West Tulsa. The Devil is in the details, and I’ll just have to keep an eye on this aspect of the project.
3. Fairgrounds. The purpose of the ball park would be to get the Tulsa Drillers to move to the East End, away from the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. I fear that a move by the Tulsa Drillers would negatively impact the fairgrounds and the surrounding area. On the other hand, the Fair Grounds are not in the city limits of Tulsa. This new location would be inside the Tulsa City limits (albeit in a TIF…again the devil is in the details). Tulsa desperately needs economic growth with an increase in sales tax. If this project provides that growth, then a depression in the area of the Fairgrounds is worth it.
4. River. I would like to see this kind of development on the river. However, this is a private development. I’m a free market guy, so if investors want to spend millions of dollars developing at this location, then I guess who am I to tell them not to?
The last two concerns aren’t really enough for me to be against this project. It is really the outcome of my first two concerns that will ultimately sway my opinion. In the mean time, I’ll be cautiously optimistic and hope that this development in Downtown Tulsa’s East End will give Tulsa the economic boost it so desperately needs.
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