B.A.’s South Focus Is Paying Dividends
By BOB LEWIS
Spurred by the 2004 opening of Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor World store, Broken Arrow continues to enjoy robust growth along its northern corridor. As good as that continues to be, leaders believe a more balanced growth pattern will make things even better.
Their focus on meeting that goal is paying off.
Creek 51 is a light industrial business park being built on the corner of the Creek Turnpike and Highway 51 that will include retail, office/warehouse, light manufacturing, and distribution facilities. Its owner, Dallas-based Ford Development, is aiming to attract companies in the “clean” manufacturing industry that use as many renewable resources as possible while reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact.
The 90-acre development is being created with the help of a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District, only the second one in Broken Arrow’s history. The first TIF District is the downtown area that includes FlightSafety and the Rose District.
Unlike that TIF, for which the city took out a loan to pay for improvements, Creek 51 is being entirely funded up-front by the developer. During the life of the TIF, half of the property taxes on the property will go toward reimbursing it for the cost of the infrastructure.
Ford Development says it expects to begin delivering sites and start roughly 800,000 square feet of building space by the end of 2020.The project is expected to generate $1 million per year in ad valorem taxes when it is completed.
New Orleans Square
The city is taking steps to revitalize what at one time was its busiest retail site.
This project began when citizens voiced concern about the number of businesses leaving the Elm Place and New Orleans Street corridor. A consulting firm suggested a variety of housing and business options, beautifying the area through landscape and store facades, making it more walkable and creating a sense of place.
Step one in the activation process involved creation of a citizens committee to analyze and prioritize the consultant’s thoughts and make recommendations to the city council. Their efforts led to the area being re-branded as “New Orleans Square,” retention of a marketing firm and initial steps to make it a tactical urbanism area through re-painting the road to encourage new traffic patterns.
A boost came on Sept. 8 when Red Dog Construction announced it is building a retail complex called Cypress Place immediately east of HomeChurch which opened this year in the former Hobby Lobby location.
Red Dog says the new space will be occupied by Jimmy’s New York Pizzeria, Secret Gardens Candle Co., Water’s Edge Winery & Bistro, Griffin Orthodontics and Josh’s Sno Shack.
In August, SoundMind Behavioral Health Hospital announced it had broken ground on a 55,000 square-foot facility designed to treat patients age 55 and above with mental health disorders and behaviors caused by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
SoundMind bought 14 acres at the northwest corner of Aspen and the Creek Turnpike for the hospital from the Broken Arrow Economic Development Authority for $300,000 in 2019.
In addition to enhancing quality of life in the region, Economic Development Manager Norman Stephens said “it will create good paying jobs, provide greater density and daytime traffic in south Broken Arrow. Additionally, it will prove to be a catalyst for additional restaurants, retail and office space in the southwest portion of Broken Arrow.”
Dewberry Architects in Tulsa designed the facility, which will be built by Cowen Construction. It is set to open late next year.
When asked what’s ahead for the southside, the smile on City Manager Michael Spurgeon’s face reflects his enthusiasm for the “Innovation District” being planned for south Broken Arrow.
In it, the city hopes to follow a pattern established by Broken Arrow Public Schools and build a campus that advanced manufacturing and technology companies share with education entities. Some of the funding required will come from the Department of Commerce.
“They actually came to Broken Arrow and worked with us and the Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology, to create this concept, and so we’ve got something that’s very unique. There’s nothing like it in the area,” said Mayor Craig Thurmond. “We want to keep people in Broken Arrow,” he said. “We want people to have that opportunity to not have to leave their city to work.”
Stevens noted three words summarize everything that is going on here – quality of life. “Enhancing it for every citizen of this community is what we are all about,” he said.