Many new construction projects are taking place in downtown Tulsa over the next few years. Several are renovations of historic buildings, and a few are brand-new hotels and apartment buildings, but all are part of the effort to improve our city.
Sante Fe Square is an ambitious two block project taking up the space from 1st and Elgin to 2nd and Greenwood. The space is currently occupied by a large parking lot and the Santa Fe Depot, which will live on as the namesake for the square.
The project will provide retail and office space, as well as room for 291 apartments and a 105-room hotel. On the ground level a brick-paved pedestrian plaza will run the length of the square and be filled with stores for visitors and residents to shop in.
Elliot Nelson, one of the primary developers of the Santa Fe Square project, in a recent interview with the Tulsa World said, “We’ve got a good intensity of bars and restaurants in the neighborhood already, so we’re looking to diversify.”
Meanwhile the Palace Building is a renovation project of a historic Tulsan site. The twelve million dollar renovation is being funded by The Tulsa World and BH Media Group. In the process of restoring the building, there is also an effort to repurpose it.
For most of the building’s past it has been used as an office space. However, the goal of renovation is to provide both retail space and housing for the area with the Tulsa World Studio housed on the ground floor.
The Boxyard stands out as possibly the most interesting project taking place downtown, because it will be constructed primarily from gigantic used metal shipping containers. The space will house plenty of stores to make shopping an even more enjoyable experience.
Hogan Assessments is a Tulsa company currently working on constructing its new headquarters in the heart of downtown Tulsa.
In addition to these large projects, “We have seen a huge increase in the number of proposed hotels lately, “ said Jim Coles from the Mayor’s Office for Economic Development. He attributed this growth to the recent completions of OneOK field and the BOK Center.
A few hotels are moving into downtown Tulsa, including The Universal Ford and Fox Hotel buildings, Hilton Garden Inn, Residence Inn by Marriott, Best Western Plus / Route 66 Hotel and Hampton Inn & Suites.
Davenport Urban Lofts, The View, The Edge, YMCA Apartments, Coliseum Apartments and First Street Lofts are some of the significant housing developments also coming downtown.
“Almost all of the new housing of the city has some type of assistance from the city. Either from the tax abatement or the Downtown Redevelopment Fund,” said Coles.
Kurt Craft, the city’s Manager of Traffic Operations and Traffic Engineering, assured citizens that although there will be some lane closures during construction, they will do their best to keep downtown traffic flowing smoothly.
After the construction of these buildings there will hopefully be much more traffic downtown, but Craft guaranteed the downtown streets have capacity for more traffic.
Lara Weber, the City’s Communication Officer, confirmed this by saying, “In years past downtown has had more traffic than it has now.”
There is also an effort to make city streets more efficient. One aspect of this actually involves taking away a lane of traffic in order to put in angled parking as opposed to the parallel parking we have now.
“We have such big capacities that we can afford to take a lane away. The real benefit of that is instead of having five parallel cars parked in a row we can have 17 angled cars parked,” said Coles.
The other attempt to streamline traffic is through traffic signal synchronization. “If you drive down Cincinnati going 22 miles an hour you will never stop at a light, you can cruise right through,” Coles added.
The city also has a long-range plan to convert some of the one way streets into two-way streets to make downtown less confusing for visitors.
“In general the city is supportive of anything that’s of quality. If you want to move your corporate headquarters downtown and build a beautiful building, we have room for it,” Coles said, with reference to Hogan Assessments.
Downtown zoning is the most flexible for developers who want to move into the area. CBD, Central Business District, zoning takes away many of the requirements for parking and allows developers to build retail and housing side-by-side.
The city does provide some assistance to developers who hope to move into Tulsa, which comes from the previously mentioned Tax Abatement and Downtown Development Fund. These essentially work as a loan from the city of Tulsa to get your construction started. Then, when a company begins to profit it pays the money back to the city, which the city then redistributes into new projects.
The large economic development packages that Tulsa recently started such as Vision 2025 and Improve Our Tulsa both feed into The Downtown Development Fund.
Another positive side effect of encouraging new business to come to Tulsa is that 54% of all property tax goes to Tulsa Public Schools.
The purpose of encouraging plenty of retail development is that roughly three cents of every nine cents that you pay goes to the city to pay for essential services like the Police Department and pothole repair.
The final aim of all this development, it would seem, isn’t just improving the economy of Tulsa, but improving the City of Tulsa for all of its residents.