An outlet mall slated for the Turkey Mountain area is now headed to Jenks, according to an investor’s brochure from the developer and the mayor of Jenks.
I had lunch yesterday with a couple of other TUWC founding members and one of them made a statement that really struck me about that general area of west Tulsa becoming “retailed-out” while we are proposing to subtract from our most important urban resource: green space.
That conversation and another I had recently with a long-time west Tulsa resident led me back to the genesis of Tulsa Hills.
In early 2006 developers of Tulsa Hills, Sooner Investments of Oklahoma City, had run into unanticipated challenges in developing their site. They came back to the city of Tulsa requesting a TIF district to finance the additional costs they had uncovered. If they could not secure the additional funding, they said they woud have to cancel the project.
I for one, have thought of Tulsa Hills being a great and timely project for west Tulsa and an appropriate instance where a TIF rewarded the area with better infrastructure, more modern amenities, it has driven more home construction, and Tulsa Hills has been a proven regional draw for sales tax revenue.
I’ve been told before by a developer knowledgeable with Tulsa Hills and the proposed Simon site that the Simon site has even more challenges for site prep. So what happens when Simon decides to spring similar news on the city council after rushing their plan through in an attempt to thwart Horizon Group’s bid for an outlet mall and Simon’s proposal ends up costing even more in TIF funding than Horizon’s would have?
There’s a serious irony in this whole development which has been lost to the sands of time. In 2006, then city councilor, Bill Christiansen said he might not be able to support this TIF as he was worried Woodland Hills’ tax collection potential might be undermined by this development. Never mind that Tulsa Hills’ offerings and Woodland Hills’ were somewhat different. It would take a whole lot of convincing otherwise to prove to me that Simon was not lobbying the council against that TIF at the time.
In speaking to a long-time west Tulsa resident who backed the Tulsa Hills development, she related to me that Simon was openly sharing concern about how Tulsa Hills might damage their business six miles to the east. She sees a real irony that now Simon wants to piggyback off the success Tulsa Hills has had and go to the city with their hand out now looking for a TIF.
Finally, I came across a blog post from Michael Bates’ Batesline blog which said “A study of retail opportunities within the City of Tulsa identified this site (Tulsa Hills) and one near I-44 and 129th East Avenue as the optimum locations for a new major retail development.”
West Tulsa has gotten a windfall of related retail and residential development that is rapidly taxing the Highway 75 corridor. With all the new development to open within the next year between 71st and Jenks, the additional traffic through the I-44 and 75 interchange will be a nightmare.
When will it be east Tulsa’s turn for a development that will change its fortunes? The proposed Horizon outlet mall development also includes pad space for additional restaurant and retail space. This is the type of development that could lead an economic renaissance for east Tulsa that is long overdue.
Damage that was done for no purpose. Keep in mind that this is not public land, it is private land so I guess they can do whatever the landowner will stand for. Still, I spent years building pipelines all over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and I never met a landowner who would stand for this kind of damage during the survey process.
I’d argue that the proposed Premium Shoppes at Turkey Mountain is a plan destined for failure. And what will that leave us with, should that come to pass? A barren parking lot with empty buildings sitting atop what used to be wild, old-growth forest that people and wildlife once enjoyed. A city asset will become a liability, and there won’t be any chance of recovering what it used to be.
To some, an outlet mall is the best gift ever–new jobs for our city, more sales tax revenue, and BARGAINS! Ask 1,000 people from all areas and walks of life–“Would you like to have a Premium Outlet Mall in Tulsa?” 95% of Tulsans would answer yes. I am sure of that. But ask the SAME 1,000 people a second question–“If another location for the mall could be found that did not have a negative impact on Tulsa’s Urban Wilderness, would you be in favor of putting it in another location? I bet at least 80% would favor another location.
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City Councilor Jeannie Cue likes the look of the place and the idea of a new source of sales tax.
“In my area, we have a lot of people from McAlester, Okmulgee, Bartlesville that come in to shop and we need those tax dollars for the growth and development of our city,” she said.
Turkey Mountain is home to a lot of critters, Everything from snakes, turtles, and deer to thousands of people: geocachers, hikers, runners, bicyclist, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and just people wanting to go get their heads clear.