View Full Version : Wolfe Creek



OKCMann
07-11-2007, 10:11 AM
Anybody know what the deal is with the Wolfe Creek Shopping Center? First they were going to put this out on the NE side of town. Next I heard they were going to build it downtown? Now I hear nothing about this project. Whats up?

Bobby H
07-11-2007, 02:32 PM
The Wolf Creek Shopping Center project has been dead for a couple of years now.

A number of big box retailers would have built in Wolf Creek's 82nd Street site and another shopping center site just south across Old Cache Road. The prospective tenants backed out of Wolf Creek when the Lawton Chamber of Commerce and Lawton's City Council floated a competing idea to revitalize Lawton's old downtown area. A number of areas in the downtown area were divided up into various "phases" and all were reclassified as TIF districts.

Some people were pleased with the idea of focusing new retail growth in the downtown area. Possible new merchants liked the idea of being much closer to I-44. In the long run, the plan could be a very positive one for Lawton. The problem is the plan will take at least several years or more to complete.

"Phase I" of the project is proceeding on schedule -but that schedule is slow. Right now most or all of the existing properties are being acquired (in a zone from Ferris Ave. down to Gore Blvd. and 2nd Street east to Railroad Ave.). This is where the big shopping center will be located. Meanwhile, the developer for the property hasn't yet been chosen. So plans still have to be drawn. For the site to have any "lifestyle center" appeal (rather than just be yet another big box strip mall) it will take some significant time for good quality designs to be created. Overall, most people who know what's going on with this project don't expect ground-breaking on the shopping center to occur until probably the middle of 2008. It may be late in 2009 before that shopping center opens -providing there isn't any legal problems with stuff like imminent domain, etc.

Meanwhile, some other stuff is happening in Lawton because certain restaurants and other businesses don't feel like waiting until 2010 just to open business closer to downtown. A small shopping center and new hotel are going up on Cache Road across the street from Lowes and Home Depot. The Olive Garden is building a restaurant there. Texas Roadhouse is going to build a restaurant farther west on Quannah Parker Trailway near the west side Wal-Mart Supercenter. Buffalo Wild Wings just opened a location in Hamra Plaza off the 2300 block of Cache Road.

Here's the one thing I find mildly annoying in the whole Wolf Creek affair. The Wolf Creek developers already had their plans ready. The city and chamber did not. They merely had an "idea." The Wolf Creek folks were ready to break ground and get earth moving equipment in action. Without interference, the Wolf Creek Center would have already been open for business. Instead, those huge flat areas along 82nd Street sit empty. Meanwhile, downtown Lawton is the same as it has been and it is going to be at least 2 years before we see Phase 1 of that project completed.

I really feel like Lawton's Chamber of Commerce and City Council are under a LOT of pressure to deliver. In choosing to deliberately steal the ball from Wolf Creek, they now must play that ball correctly and get this ambitious project realized correctly. If they goof up (like they have done so often in the past) they will incur the wrath from an angry public who has already had to wait way too many years for retailers like Target and Best Buy to arrive.

OKCMann
07-11-2007, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the detailed explaination of whats going on. I do agree that if the 82nd street location had been allowed to proceed then these businesses would be open. However I wonder of the new center will be worth the wait? Only time will tell? Another items to consider is if the new retail center will compete with the newer suburban areas for customers? If they don't you could have a new center downtown sitting empty. Sometimes in a city, even the size of Lawton, people will not drie to the other side of town to shop.

Bobby H
07-12-2007, 01:06 AM
Considering a LOT of people in Lawton already drive 50 or 100 miles to Wichita Falls, Norman and OKC to shop at places like Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Kohls, etc., having businesses like that in Lawton's downtown area will not be a negative.

Ultimately, the shopping center is only part of what is planned. The big box retailers will be the "anchor" for the other phases, which will include restaurants, night clubs, coffee shops, galleries, condominium developments and more.

OKCMann
07-12-2007, 11:08 AM
The one thing I hope they consider is making a good faith effort not to suburbanize the downtown area. I hope they can plan this to have more of a smaller type town feel. However with big box retailers my hopes may be too high?

Bobby H
07-12-2007, 03:18 PM
Count on at least a few huge parking lots for the major retailers. There is absolutely no way customers are going to take the bus or ride a bike to a store to buy a big screen TV or a bunch of other stuff.

The areas around the shopping center in the other development zones have a better chance of living up to that whole homogenized lifestyle neighborhood concept. It will still take a parent developer with a non-flexible design covenant to control what can happen visually in those zones. If it's just left up to the city council, everything will be business as usual: junk and clutter everywhere. They can't even manage to properly enforce the sign ordinance.

I have one serious concern about the downtown project. No one in the chamber or city council will get pinned down on whether they will restrict churches from locating in certain zones. Business cannot sell alcoholic beverages within a certain distance of a church.

One of the motives on getting this downtown project started is that Lawton's old downtown is just painfully DEAD after 6:00pm. Even before then it's still really slow. The planners want night clubs, art galleries, coffee shops and other entertainment outlets built in those areas. Unfortunately, the western part of old downtown Lawton is dotted with many churches.

Some new churches are deliberately built near popular night clubs and other establishments that serve alcohol. For example, Lawton's most popular night club, CW Scooters (a country bar), is located way out on the western outskirts of town alongside Lee Blvd. The night club has been there for 10 years. A new church is getting built right across the road from Scooters, despite there being a lot of vacant land all around the west side of town. The church is getting built there so if Scooters ever gets a liquor license violation -such as ABLE entrapping them with one of their stunts- the night club will be closed for good since it is across the street from a church.

The rest of Lawton's night life scene is a wide scattering of lots of cheap, little, rot gut dives that smell like old, concentrated cigarette smoke or worse. You go in and order a drink.
"What kind of beer do you have?"
"Both kinds: Bud and Bud Light!"
The bartender serves you the beer in a can.

I know good and well if Lawton starts building a night life district with good quality night clubs and other businesses in zones near 2nd street, some fundamentalist dude is going to throw together some ugly, corrugated metal industrial building, stick a cross on it and kill the activity in the area.

Overall, I think the "phase 1" shopping center portion of the downtown plan will come together -likely as just another huge strip mall. I have serious doubts the other stuff is going to happen.

u50254082
07-24-2007, 12:33 AM
Bobby H-

Some very refreshing information on the development in Lawton. Thanks.