View Full Version : Nearly 400 million dollars in downtown investment since 2009...

03-12-2012, 02:07 PM
That doesn't include the 250 million dollar BOK Center... Pretty amazing. I think it is interesting that Tulsa is sort of quietly booming downtown...

Downtown Tulsa development is booming

BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Sunday, March 11, 2012
3/11/2012 5:31:35 AM

Dwelling Spaces owner Mary Beth Babcock just has to look out her storefront window to see the changing face of downtown.

That's the location of Cam's Grocery, the long-awaited market. Or she could look two buildings down to a new restaurant, while a few blocks north a grocery store/restaurant concept is under way.

"We've been patiently waiting for the grocery stores to open," Babcock said. "For me, it'll be super convenient because I'll walk across the street and then just a few blocks home."

Downtown residents and business owners such as Babcock are at the forefront of one of downtown Tulsa's most significant overhauls in decades.

With new museums, more affordable housing, restaurants and two long-awaited grocers, 2012 could be the year that determines whether downtown has the makings of a destination retail, dining and entertainment district, along with a strong residential component.

Nearly $386 million worth of development projects are either under construction, announced or recently completed, according to a tally by the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

Downtown has added nearly 1,000 residents in the past three years and is poised to add hundreds more as new apartment and condominium projects near completion.

And a slew of new restaurants and other retail-oriented projects promises to add the kind of downtown shopping that fled to the suburbs decades ago.

"You can feel that stuff is happening," said Babcock, who established her apparel and gift store in 2006, before the BOK Center or ONEOK Field opened. "There's still not a ton of retail yet, but there are lots of restaurants. And it's good when more retailers open because we can tell people to come downtown."

Adding residents
Tom Taylor's apartment at the newly completed $12 million Metro at Brady building is just blocks from his new job at Emergency Infant Services, a short walk to numerous bars and restaurants, and minutes on foot from the BOK Center and ONEOK Field.

"When I started looking for a place, I wanted something different than my house in Oklahoma City," said Taylor, 40. "It seemed like downtown was thriving, and it was on the verge of thriving even more with all the activity around here."

Business owners say more downtown residents such as Taylor are the key to establishing a vibrant and sustainable retail district.

"We need more housing," said Elliot Nelson, who opened his first downtown bar, McNellie's Public House, in 2006. "The housing is what ensures the street life, people walking around seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It brings the constant activity."

Nelson has six restaurants and bars in the Blue Dome and Brady districts as well as a bowling alley, the Dust Bowl, that he opened last May.

At the beginning of 2009, there were some 3,000 people living downtown, but most condominiums in the core area were priced for upscale buyers in historic high-rises.

But in the past two years, developers have added or announced more than 400 new housing units downtown.

The downtown population is now close to 4,000.

More housing is on the way, including a mix of apartments, condominiums and even a group of single-family homes whose construction should begin this spring. Focus has also shifted to a variety of affordability levels for residents.

Nelson himself is investing in a $19.2 million apartment project on the east side of downtown that could include 142 units.

"One of the challenges of urban development is the price," he said. "The idea with this is to provide apartments for the same price that you would pay down on South Memorial."

Tulsa architect Pat Fox is working on a $2.1 million project along Greenwood Avenue where he hopes to build eight single-family houses, the first such downtown development in decades.

Adding retail
More people living downtown is providing a boost to retail, including two highly anticipated grocery stores.

Archer Market, run by city councilman and restaurant owner Blake Ewing, and Cam's Grocery both are set to open this spring, much to the delight of downtown residents.

The two markets will give the area its first grocery store presence in the decade since Homeland closed its store on Denver Avenue at 12th Street.

Two restaurants, Rib Crib and Albert G's BBQ, are working on new buildings near the Blue Dome District and should also open this spring.

"You're seeing a lot of new names move their businesses downtown that are not the old downtown crowd," Ewing said.

A few projects slated for completion in 2012 could herald the beginning of more retail development.

The first phase of the One Place development will add 19,000 square feet of street-front retail space across Denver Avenue from the BOK Center, with more to come as additional phases of the complex are completed.

Lee's Bicycles owner Adam Vanderberg's purchase of an old warehouse in the Blue Dome District in 2010 was part of a new wave of retailers taking a risk on downtown.

He moved his 93-year-old bicycle business from a successful location in the popular Brookside neighborhood to the untested downtown core.

"We made a big commitment two years ago when we left Brookside," Vanderberg said. "Often, moving can mean a kiss of death for retail."

He said the new store, in a 14,000-square-foot building he purchased on East Second Street, is doing similar sales volumes to his old Brookside store.

Vanderberg's building, which he split into three spaces, is also home to Fleet Feet, an athletic footwear and apparel store, as well as a fitness studio.

"We want more retail downtown," he said. "We don't have enough yet.

"There's a lot of vision, and I'm ready. I'm anxious for more retail and more dwelling. I think the dwelling needs to come back first, and that's happening. That's finally happening."
Growing up Brady
Downtown's historic music and entertainment district is hardly recognizable to people who haven't visited the area in a few months.

With three new museums, a park in addition to the existing Brady Theater and Cain's Ballroom, the Brady District is poised to become the city's arts and culture center.

A new $18.3 million headquarters for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, called the Hardesty Arts Center, is expected to open in September, with space for exhibitions as well as artist studios and classrooms.

Next door in the former Mathews Warehouse building will be the Zarrow Center, another art studio and exhibition space serving as a satellite for the Gilcrease Museum. A Woody Guthrie Museum is also in the works inside the Mathews Warehouse building.

Griffin Communications, owner of KOTV channel 6, is building an $11.8 million local headquarters. About 185 employees will work in the building when it opens later this year.

Organizers are also hoping to build a $40 million Oklahoma Pop Museum, a tribute to Oklahomans' contributions to music, movies and entertainment. That project is awaiting state funding.

Downtown by the numbers
$386 million
Projects under construction, recently completed or planned

Number of downtown residents, up by 1,000 since 2009

Apartment and condo units finished since 2009

New apartment or condo units planned for downtown

Source: Tulsa Metro Chamber

1. Griffin Communications

Griffin Communications is building a new home for KOTV/News on 6, a handful of its other Tulsa properties and 185 employees. Scheduled to be completed later this year.

2. Brady Park

Taking the place of the now-demolished Central Freight loading docks, the new park will include green space and a “water feature,” along with geothermal wells that will help heat and cool the renovated Mathews Warehouse on the other side of Brady Street.

3. Mathews Warehouse

The old Mathews Warehouse building is undergoing a major reconstruction and will include the future home of a Philbrook Museum satellite location and the Zarrow Center for the Arts. Scheduled to be completed in May

4. Oklahoma Pop Museum

A 67,000-square-foot museum dedicated to the creative spirit of Oklahoma’s people and the influence of those artists on popular culture around the world.

5. Fairfield Inn and Suites

The $11 million project is set to be finished in October and will have 11,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, as well as a bar in the lobby.

6. Hardesty Arts Center

The Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa’s $18.3 million project is on schedule to open in the fall of 2012.

7. Brady District Flats

The $8.5 million, 40-unit building will be aimed at downtown workers looking for more affordable living options with a walkable commute. It will feature 40 units with rents ranging from $470 to $1,100.

8. Metro at Brady

Apartment building includes 75 units with a swimming pool and parking garage.

9. Boulder Bridge

Crews began Jan. 3 on the project that links First Street to Archer Street. The $8.3 million project is scheduled to be done in late summer to replace the structure that was built in 1929 and closed more than a decade ago.

10. City Parking Garage

Construction of a 260-space public parking garage is on schedule to be completed in the spring and is intended to help ease the demand for parking expected as One Technology Center and BOK Tower add tenants.

11. Archer Market

A Blake Ewing project that will have a market and restaurant on the base floor of the Detroit Lofts apartment building. Scheduled to be completed this spring.

12. Cam’s Grocery

New full-service grocery store on South Detroit Avenue will include fresh produce, deli and restaurant. Scheduled to be completed this spring.

13. Rib Crib

The Tulsa-based chain has signed a lease for a space in the Blue Dome District on First Street at Detroit Avenue. It’s the first downtown location for the barbecue restaurant company that has expanded to 45 locations in eight states.

14. Greenwood Lofts

The mixed-use development on the southwest corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street is expected to begin in the next few months. A similar project is planned for the southeast corner of Greenwood and Archer.

15. Urban8

Eight single-family detached homes ranging from 1,900 to 2,800 square feet. Construction expected this spring.

16. Hartford Commons

A 142-unit apartment building with 200 on-site parking spaces. The project is still pending and is being done by downtown entrepreneur Elliot Nelson. Construction expected in late 2012.

17. Albert G’s BBQ

Owner Chuck Gawey is working to get into a place on East First Street in the building directly east of McNellie’s Public House.

18. East End Village

Developers Mark Larson and Travis Skaggs plan 50 rental units and commercial space at the former Bill White Chevrolet site.

Original Print Headline: Downtown doers Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380

Just the facts
03-12-2012, 03:18 PM
This is another reason why downtown Tulsa and OKC need streetcar systems connected by HSR.

03-19-2012, 10:17 PM
Tulsa has created a remarkable number of downtown living units during this recession, whereas here in OKC, we took a hit and nothing got going until the current development deluge that we are in the midst of.

I think that the downtown housing loans were a big part of that, and I these kinds of incentive programs are usually successful. I would be interested to see how these deals' success rates compared to the TIF strategy that OKC uses (which downed the Bomasada project on Broadway).

03-20-2012, 06:56 PM
Is Downtown Tulsa considered everything in the 244/75 loop or is it smaller than that? I had always assumed there were more than 4,000 living there.

Those numbers are awesome given the economy over the past 3 years. Adding 1,000 new residents! And a grocery store on the way. Those kinds of things make DT living even more popular for the next 3 years.

Kudos Tulsa.

03-20-2012, 10:48 PM
Everything inside the Inner-Dispersal Loop is roughly downtown, although it includes a lot of weird areas. There's a lot of public housing along the west side of the IDL by the county jail and convention center, if memory serves me correct.

It's mostly a square mile of surface parking, although Tulsa's downtown does have a great, dense core still left.

I also thought DT Tulsa was around 6-7,000 inhabitants total?

03-21-2012, 03:23 AM
It is interesting that Tulsa's metro grew so asymmetrically for a not having a mountain or ocean restricting sprawl in specific directions. While I could see how the industrial complex just southwest of town would have a zone of inhibition on growth near it, the east side goes out 15 to 20 miles, does anyone know reasons why this happened?

03-21-2012, 07:26 PM
Everything inside the Inner-Dispersal Loop is roughly downtown, although it includes a lot of weird areas. There's a lot of public housing along the west side of the IDL by the county jail and convention center, if memory serves me correct.

It's mostly a square mile of surface parking, although Tulsa's downtown does have a great, dense core still left.

I also thought DT Tulsa was around 6-7,000 inhabitants total?

I think the larger totals include the jail or residential areas just outside the loop like the area east of the loop but west of Peoria and the Riverview and Uptown areas south of the loop.

03-21-2012, 07:28 PM
Ah, that makes sense swake. That's for clearing that up.

It is interesting that Tulsa's metro grew so asymmetrically for a not having a mountain or ocean restricting sprawl in specific directions. While I could see how the industrial complex just southwest of town would have a zone of inhibition on growth near it, the east side goes out 15 to 20 miles, does anyone know reasons why this happened?

Well the opposite direction is an Indian reservation (Osage County), not to mention some interesting topography.

06-06-2012, 11:35 PM
Bump. Come on Tulsa posters, give us some updates! With renderings and photos, pretty please :cool:

06-07-2012, 12:28 PM
The new Griffin Communications building in the Brady District is coming along

The Metro at Brady apartments are now open 0HmUEw51Y2vIWdeQ7wQ

The TU/Gilcreace Zarrow Art Center opened this month in half of the old Mathew’s warehouse in the Brady

The other half of the building is getting close to being done and will be split between Philbrook’s new downtown museum and the Woody Guthrie Museum.

The Arts and Humanities Council’s Hardesty Art Center also in the Brady is also well under construction
It will look like this:

The $40 million Pop Culture museum will sit right next to all these other new art centers in the Brady and is just three blocks from the Cain’s and four from The Brady Theater

Fairfield Inn in the Brady

All of these are right by the new Brady Park that is getting closer to being done 206853_n.jpg

Greenarch in Greenwood across from Oneok Field started construction this week

One Place also by the BOK center is going up. Phases I (Northwestern Mutual new 5 story building) and II (Cimarex building, 17 floors) are well under way, phase III (hotel) is supposed to start in the spring and IV (residential) after that. I think it’s up to about 11 or 12 floors now. I can’t seem to find any decent construction photos

The Aloft hotel in the old city hall near the BOK center opens in August o4Fri_ClO9AzVO3y8_z4Q

The Aloft is by the same family that did the Detroit Lofts and the Mayo Hotel. The father is president of Manhattan Construction. They are also converting the old downtown YMCA and Vandever Department Store into lofts with some Vision 2025 housing money and just bought an old city office building across the street from the convention center and OSU Medical center and are looking to do something with it as well.
Vandever Building
YMCA z9RmQ1SFk-MY1Ja3fn5

Also by the convention center Riverbend Gardens is nearly done

In the East End the Bill White Chevy building is being turned into lofts, this is also a Vision 2025 Housing money project

Also in the east end The University of Tulsa and OU are collaborating and opening a new College of Community Medicine with $100 million of George Kaiser’s money. They have purchased the Hartford Building and are planning a medical campus there. I couldn’t find a photo of the building, The building is pretty bad and will need a complete overhaul

Also in the east end All Soul Unitarian Church has purchased two lots and will be building a new $26 million church. The church is moving from Brookside and is the world's largest Unitarian Church.

Urban8 is a small condo project from the same people as GreenArch that’s supposed to start construction very soon

Next to Urban8 is a much larger proposed project, Hartford Commons. It’s a $18 million 142-unit new construction residential building at 2nd and Greenwood by Elliott Nelson (McNellie’s Group)

Also in the east end Tulsa Opera has purchased the old Tulsa Fire Department Headquarters and is redoing the building as their new home

Land Legacy is planning a long narrow four block long part that will be next to all of these east end projects. Land Legacy was behind the new parks in the Brady District and at 6th and Main

Against all odds, the Sager Lofts building in the Blue Dome is coming to life with businesses opening up on the first floor and work being done

Lastly, It’s not downtown but there’s another huge project in the Brookside area that’s worth mentioning. The Kaiser Foundation and Riverparks are building a huge (currently unnamed) new 60 acre park from about 27th to 33rd and Riverside. It’s a $150 million park project.
You can see all about it at:

06-07-2012, 05:59 PM
Great looking projects! The new construction looks great. Cool park as well, I have often heard that Tulsa's riverfront trail/park system is top notch.

06-07-2012, 06:09 PM
they should move the disc golf baskets from there and set up a new course away from joggers and traffic. I was so dissappointed when I went out there to play some disc golf and I ended up wasting a quarter of my day and lost a frisbee in the back of a moving pickup. the sleezy joint still open up there I think it was called the gentlemen's club

06-07-2012, 06:46 PM
I love GreenArch, and I'm surprised that a plan has come together so quickly for the new riverside park, seems the park was only announced earlier this year (is this an expedited timetable?). UN - yeah Tulsa's riverside parks are excellent, I occasionally enjoy going up there and checking out a bike from the bikeshare racks and just peddling along Riverside Drive.

There I'm also often reminded that it's 2012 and some people still rollerblade?? :Smiley036

06-07-2012, 08:57 PM
I remember seeing some renderings of a canal in the Pearl District in Tulsa. Anything new on that front?

Edit: Best render I could find.

06-07-2012, 09:54 PM
Thanks for the update Swake. I wasn't going to take the time to search all of that. :cool:

Spartan - The park was only announced earlier this year, and the plans have been formed as quickly as possible through community meetings and input. I don't believe these are the final ones, but I think construction is on target to start early next year.

UN - Although the Pearl District is slowly improving, and has amazing potential, those plans for the canal, if they ever happen, are still a long ways off.

As a side note - GreenArch is one of my favorite projects downtown, along with the ALOFT conversion of city hall. I also am super excited for the new Brady Park and the adjoining museums to be completed.

Also, I really hope the next two phases of One Place are better designed. I like Phase two (the small building) but the tower is horribly boring. I would think the hotel and residential at least would be a little more eye catching.

06-07-2012, 10:32 PM
UN - Although the Pearl District is slowly improving, and has amazing potential, those plans for the canal, if they ever happen, are still a long ways off..

Thanks for the response. So it was probably more conceptual at this point. I just asked because those "main street" type corridors are highly interesting to me. And from what I have found the Pearl District will hopefully have a unique identity. They may not need the canal if the ball gets rolling.

06-08-2012, 04:37 PM
Finally Tulsa realizes that their river is screaming with potential

06-09-2012, 02:11 PM
Really great to see all these projects coming together. Tulsa has such a great start with its successful districts (e.g., Brady, Blue Dome, Cherry Street, and Brookside)... the downtown area really has a chance to be special if great people keep investing there.

06-19-2012, 01:51 AM
I agree, this is great stuff! I am loving the Brady District. Go Tulsa.

07-09-2012, 12:56 PM

Greenarch is now under construction:

Here are new renderings of the Brady Flat project that will start construction once the Fairfield Inn in the Brady District is done, the site for Greenarch is being used to stage the construction of the hotel.

Here’s the Phase III building for the One Place project, it’s a hotel (reportedly a Hilton brand of some kind) with some floors for apartments and condos. Construction will start once the One Place Tower (Phase II) is complete as the hotel site is also being used for staging.

And here’s the building that is last phase. It will have a mix of retail, office and residential

The Aloft hotel conversion of the old city hall building and Archer Market, a downtown grocery store both are supposed to open next month.

Tulsa’s Central Library is getting a $38 million rebuild starting in September 2013. During the two years of construction a temporary downtown library will be opened in the old downtown Homeland store at 11th and Denver

07-17-2012, 03:36 PM
Wow, already on Phase 3 of OnePlace - still it all looks fairly institutional. The other stuff looks great though.

Any renderings for the Central Library?