The Tulsa Development Authority is rooted in more than 50 years of the City’s history. Formed as the Tulsa Urban Renewal Authority in 1959, it sought to identify, remove and reinvigorate blighted areas through federal funds.
Although the urban renewal funding program ended in 1974, over the decades, the Authority’s role expanded to cover diverse areas including neighborhood improvement, code enforcement, flood area acquisition, and home rehabilitation. Presently, it focuses on land acquisition and sales for targeted economic development.
TDA: Its Role
The Tulsa Development Authority collaborates with planning bodies, city government and visionary developers. TDA drives the improvement of targeted, deteriorated areas that offer potential for residential and commercial redevelopment.
TDA works in the following ways:
- Restoring Land Value by Removing Blighted Buildings
- Creating Opportunities for Revitalization by Selling Surplus Land
- Assisting the City of Tulsa in Selling Unused Lands
- Improving Infrastructure and Beautification Processes by Managing Tax Increment Funds (TIFs)
- Driving New Multi-Family Residential Projects by Administering Downtown Development Funds
- Providing Vision and Planning for Areas Targeted for Improvement
As a designated, independent Authority, its mission includes safe and sanitary
The TDA Process
TDA’s involvement in a project does not end with a land sale. It becomes a working partner with the visionary developers who purchase lands or buildings.
TDA ensures ideas become reality by participating in the building process every step of the way. With its mantra of “the highest and best use” for each property, TDA works to assure each project meets the city’s needs for new housing, retail service and office space. Developers are required to present an architectural plan and any plan changes to the TDA board for approval. Critically, developers must complete the project in a reasonable time.
Every citizen deserves safe and secure housing — and it is a key focus of the Tulsa Development Authority. Through its Neighborhood Development Program, it has identified deteriorated neighborhoods that can be reclaimed and reinvigorated.
Whether through land or property purchases, or providing special funding, the TDA has driven the re-creation of several housing projects in Tulsa neighborhoods. Since 2011, it has partnered with other organizations to transform three areas long needing attention.
Crutchfield: A resident of the near downtown area – located between Highway 75 and Utica from Pine to Admiral – had for years led an effort to tear down abandoned houses to rid the neighborhood of bad influences. Working with the City through TDA, the Crutchfield Neighborhood Association cleared out dilapidated structures leaving 300 empty lots needing affordable housing. TDA worked with Habitat for Humanity by selling the lots to the nonprofit homebuilding organization for $2,500 each, making it possible in 2011 to construct seven lower cost, sturdy homes. “It’s a better, more healthy quality of life than we have ever had anywhere we’ve ever lived in Tulsa,” one new homeowner told a Tulsa television station.
Wells Fargo: In 2012, several Tulsa organizations working for safe housing cooperated to make home ownership dreams come true for low-income citizens. It began when Wells Fargo foreclosed on 18 north Tulsa properties, which it then donated to nonprofits for renovation. TDA was one of those partners, working on behalf of the City’s Rehabilitation Program. TDA, in partnership with the City of Tulsa’s Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) department, provided a $35,000 grant for rehabilitation costs including new siding, heat and air, bathroom and kitchen fixtures and appliances. Each first-time owner must qualify, based on income, through the Working in Neighborhoods program. After attending New Homeowner Training from the Tulsa Housing Authority, potential owners’ names were chosen by lottery to receive a home. New owners pay no mortgage, but must live and maintain the property for five years, when a lien on the home is forgiven.
West Park: Tulsa’s Kendall Whittier neighborhood is one of the city’s oldest. Once at the eastern edge of Tulsa, it included its own business center, but had declined
as its population aged and the city moved outward. Fortunately, its 1991 Masterplan has led to re-growth. One project, located near East Fifth Street and South Lewis Avenue, was
originally designated by TDA as West Park Urban Renewal area. It found new life in 2012 when the George Kaiser Family Foundation announced a $36 million plan to develop 7.5
acres in the West Park neighborhood. TDA acquired and eliminated several dilapidated structures, which in turn removed the criminal element. Completed in October 2013, it includes 128 mixed-income housing units, 20 University of Tulsa student-housing units, and 7,000 square feet of office and management space, and a major park renovation.
What Developers Say
Bob Eggleston, One Oklahoma LLC
Projects: One Place
Bob Eggleston came to Tulsa to oversee the building of the BOK event center. He stayed when he and a partner, Hank Pelligrini, decided to take advantage of this new downtown drawing card by building up the facing block on the east side of Denver Avenue. The result has been the $70 million One Place, a mixed use development that includes Class A office space for Northwestern Mutual Life, Cimerex Energy and Check 6. Phase II will be a new $17.3 million Hampton Inn, scheduled for completion in Summer 2016. A third yet-to-be-scheduled phase will include restaurants and retail space. Working with the TDA “was a learning process; I had never done any developing myself, my background is as a builder. I love the TDA guys; they are great, great guys doing their best,” Eggleston said. Although the process is not always easy, “you respect the job they’re doing, and they do the same for what you are trying to do. …There was not a lot of investment going into Tulsa at the time. It was one of the biggest real estate developments in downtown Tulsa in 20-30 years, so it’s a bold, bold move and we needed them as partners. And they were.”
Steve Ganzkow, American Residential Properties
Projects: The Metro on Brady, Hartford Commons
Steve Ganzkow has longtime experience with the Tulsa Development Authority. In the early 2000s, he worked with TDA on the Renaissance apartments and the conversion of an old newspaper building into the Tribune Lofts. With that latter success, American Residential Properties decided to expand the concept by constructing an adjacent twin, The Metro on Brady. TDA helped bring the project to fruition first, by selling the land, and second, with a $1 million, no-interest loan. It was a courageous stand, Ganzkow said, because there was strong resistance to the idea. Today, Ganzkow is helping develop the 162-unit Hartford Commons. Of the early days, Ganzkow said, “We were all going down a road without a road map. Nobody had a manual for urban development. They (TDA) were very patient, great people to work with; great staff… it was very cooperative effort with them. They always believed in the public purpose of what we were doing.” Today it is much the same. “ They have great leadership at the board level,” he said, always staying on the task to meet the goals of getting housing units and of facilitating projects. What has been TDA’s influence on spurring downtown growth? “It’s hard to say,” he said, “but it’s got to start somewhere”. The difference, he noted, is that instead of saying why project won’t work, TDA says, “Sure,
it will work.”