Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon Oversees City’s Advancement

Managing Editor

A FLOURISHING CITY: It has been just over one year since Michael Spurgeon took the reins as Broken Arrow’s City Manager. Since then, Spurgeon has overseen the continued revitalization of the Rose District, worked to improve the city’s transparency, and initiated studies to address downtown residential growth and south Broken Arrow development.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

Editor’s Note: Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon is one of Greater Tulsa Reporter’s “10 People to Watch in 2016,” as announced in its January 2016 issue. was the first news group in greater Tulsa to introduce People to Watch, which launched in January 2009.
This is the final article in the series that featured each of the “10 People to Watch.”
In the December issue, will announce its “10 People to Watch in 2017.”

Michael Spurgeon came to Broken Arrow in September 2015 as the city’s fifth city manager in 11 years. Thus, among Spurgeon’s priorities after taking the helm, was bringing stability to the job and improving transparency, he says.

Spurgeon is a Tulsa native who had previously served as city manager for the City of Miami and then director of administration for the City of St. Charles, Missouri. When he came to Broken Arrow, he took the reins of a growing city that had recently hit 100,000 citizens and was in the midst of its downtown resurgence.

“To have the opportunity to help finish up the revitalization of Broken Arrow’s downtown has been great,” says Spurgeon, who describes himself as “a downtown guy.”

Downtown Broken Arrow has gone from just under $25,000 in sales tax revenue 10 years ago to $350,000 in the previous fiscal year. The area has also seen $12 million in public investment and $40 million in private investment.

Although the Rose District’s emergence was well underway by the time Spurgeon arrived, “There’s two areas that I was able to leave my thumbprint in downtown,” he says: the construction of the downtown fountain, which opened in September, and the removal of the vacant Assembly of God Church at 305 N. Main St. in order to make way for redevelopment.

“The fountain will raise the bar for public attractions,” he says.

Over the summer, the Assembly of God Church was demolished. The building has sat vacant since 2006. Spurgeon expects that by the end of October an announcement will be made for the development of that property. But Spurgeon promises, “It will be a vertical project with multiple floors and multiple uses, including possibly retail, commercial, office and residential.”

To further address downtown residential development, a downtown residential study is currently underway regarding the future creation of an overlay design plan for downtown. “This is a unique opportunity to redevelop an area. That only comes around every 50 years or so,” Spurgeon says.

“There’s enormous interest in residential opportunities in downtown Broken Arrow,” he continues. “There are people literally driving down side streets in downtown, looking for available property.”

Another noteworthy development for Broken Arrow is talks that the city has entered into with its business and education communities to create an innovation district that would be located near Northeastern State University’s Broken Arrow campus.

The project would include high-tech businesses, start-up companies, business incubators, and educational partnerships with NSUBA, Tulsa Tech, and Broken Arrow Public Schools. “There may even be residential options, such as solar or wind homes,” Spurgeon says.

“But the focus of this area will be to create a technology corridor to attract high-tech companies. We have to think about where we’re going as a country and jobs, and that is (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).”

Development projects, particularly retail, continue to come especially to the northern part of B.A., with further growth to come to the shopping area at 71st Street and Lynn Lane.

“Broken Arrow citizens have a lot of buying power, which is causing corporations to sit up and take notice.”

While south Broken Arrow is seeing residential growth with about 4,000 homes currently in the development process, Spurgeon has initiated a study to address the need for hotel properties in south B.A. “Most of our hotel properties are located in north B.A., but our baseball and softball fields are in south B.A.”

One of those new south B.A. residents is Spurgeon and his wife, who married in May.

Additional hurdles that Spurgeon plans to overcome in the coming years include the maintenance and building of infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing city.
“We have nearly 110,000 citizens, plus the potential for thousands of new homes coming to the city, so we need to look down the road as to stormwater, utility and traffic needs,” he says.

Spurgeon expects to soon see the need for water and sewer repair and improvement projects, equaling approximately $140 million.

Add to that a long list of road projects and his focus on improving city transparency, and Spurgeon would agree that he has his work cut out for him.

His emphasis on transparency is coming through to citizens in a number of ways, including providing video recaps on the city website of city council meetings, publishing an annual financial report, and conducting phone and social media campaigns regarding city projects.

“I want people to know what’s happening at City Hall because it’s their government,” he says. “The more they know, the more they’ll be involved.”

Updated 10-24-2016

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