Since 2010 — through the Tulsa Development Authority — the burgeoning area within the Inner Dispersal Loop has gained: 989 new residential units, four new hotels, four restaurants and retail places.
With the completion of an updated strategic plan, TDA will be moving its focus north. It will review and refresh earlier plans for areas of north Tulsa, in which changing demographics will require changing development concepts. A consultant will assist TDA in evaluating the needs of neighborhoods (blue boundary) and later those neighborhoods marked in orange.
Quietly, persistently and patiently, TDA has carried out its mission. It has purchased blighted and dilapidated sites and worked with developers to carry out the ideas voiced by citizens, city government and community leaders. Similarly, it has helped the City find buyers for its unwanted properties, adding to this mix. It has enhanced tax increment fund (TIF) districts with infrastructure and streetscaping. And in three north side neighborhoods, it has helped create safe and sanitary housing by partnering with other community organizations and businesses.
Since 2008, “we’ve been on the move,” said Julius Pegues, who was appointed TDA chairman that year. A new, strong working board along with executive director, O.C. Walker, a former city planner, reviewed massive planning documents including the citizen-driven comprehensive PlanIt Tulsa, small area plans and sector plans, and housing and hotel studies.
They discovered tremendous opportunities. “We had the assets, but we just weren’t developing them,” Pegues said. TDA already had 180 parcels that could find new life if matched with the right project. Two studies commissioned by the City of Tulsa’s Economic Development Commission on the downtown area showed a strong demand for both rental and forsale housing —1,625 and 3,125 units respectively — and for at least 1,800 additional hotel rooms.
After studying the TDA’s holdings, the board developed a strategy to redevelop unused parcels ripe for new construction and buildings that could be adapted for the uses citizens said they wanted — condominiums, apartments, and locally owned stores and eateries. Then TDA began issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs). The first: One Place, an office-hotel-retail complex to be built on a TDA block of land facing the new BOK Center. Second: The Metro at Brady Arts District, a five-story apartment project adjacent to an earlier TDA-incentivized project, the Tribune Lofts. Third: Riverbend Gardens at 11th Street and Denver Avenue, where the land would provide space for 40 affordable townhomes.
Through more than 20 additional projects since then, TDA’s mission has always been to focus on ‘the highest and best use’ of land and property. But unlike other development, TDA’s role did and does not end with the sale. And land or buildings do not lie fallow. Developers must meet TDA’s high standards by adhering to the submitted project and agreeing upon timelines and completion dates. If a project presents challenges, TDA and developers work together to overcome them.
The result? A November 2014 report by Tulsa Regional Chamber on downtown building activity shows that 21 of the 48 recently completed or projects in process were the products of TDA involvement. Since 2010 — through TDA — the burgeoning area within the Inner Dispersal Loop has gained 989 new apartment residential units, 4 new hotels with more than 542 guestrooms, and 4 restaurants and retail places that accompany many of them.
Along with The Metro at Brady and One Place, other notable achievements have included the Detroit Lofts, East End Village, The Lofts at the YMCA, and Vandever Lofts. These projects would not have been possible without the TDA-administered Downtown Housing Fund. Through it, potential developers may be eligible for up to a $1 million, interest-free loan. It has been the critical factor in encouraging lenders to extend the needed funding to make projects possible.
Five Year Report/ Strategic Plan
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