Delise Tomlinson, Chamber Bring Downtown Development

Managing Editor

CHEERING GROWTH: Delise Tomlinson, executive director of downtown development with the Tulsa Regional Chamber, pictured at left, stands at 3rd Street and Boston Avenue. Tomlinson plays a key role in bringing new development to downtown.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

Delise Tomlinson is working for downtown Tulsa.

Through her role with the Tulsa Regional Chamber as executive director of downtown development, she works on a daily basis to make downtown Tulsa successful.

Tomlinson plays the role of advocate in bringing new development to downtown, because “to attract and retain workforce, we must have a vibrant downtown,” she says.

Research routinely reveals that the younger workforce want to live downtown, she continues. Therefore, the revitalization of downtown wasn’t simply a desire, it was and remains a necessity.

Tomlinson praises downtown’s hard-working entrepreneurs and past construction projects for Tulsa’s current momentum—projects like the Center and ONEOK Field. “If those things hadn’t been done, we wouldn’t be here,” she says.

Those new projects served to complement downtown’s already-established venues like the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Brady Theatre and Cain’s Ballroom, which brought about an increased need for restaurants, retail and other developments. This includes the recently-announced Hilton Garden Inn hotel, to be located at 201 S. Cheyenne Ave. The hotel, part of a mixed-use development, will include 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The building will also feature event space and a rooftop patio. The project is expected to be completed by 2016.

A Holiday Inn Express is also coming to downtown on Archer Street between Elgin and Detroit Avenues. It will be a part of a mixed-use development with retail and commercial space. Construction on the hotel is planned to finish by the end of 2015.
On Nov. 10, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture hosted a tour, called Dwell in the , of seven downtown residences to address the growing interest in downtown’s urban living options.

Featured residences included First Ward Studio and Loft, 324 E. 1st St., the Philtower, 427 S. Boston Ave., Mayo 420, 420 S. Main St., and the former , 518 S. Denver Ave., and Vandever’s, 16 E. 5th St., both currently undergoing renovations.

The former building will feature 80 loft apartments, parking and mixed-use space. Vandever’s will hold 40 loft apartments.

Other announced developments currently under construction or soon to begin include the Brady District Flats, on the northwest corner of Archer and Boston Avenue, with 40 apartment units; the Coliseum Apartments, 36 apartments at 6th Street and Elgin Avenue; the East End Village, between 4th and 5th Streets and Elgin and Frankfort Avenues, which will hold 84 loft apartments, five restaurants, and 35,000 square feet of commercial and retail space; the Harrington Building, on the northwest corner of 8th Street and Main Street, to offer 24 loft units; and the 20,000-square-foot former station, 302 S. Frankfort, to be renovated into a mixed-use development.

The growing amount of residential construction reflects the high demand, Tomlinson says. “Residential is built, and there’s immediately a waiting list.”

Tomlinson expects to see the residential demand continue in the coming years, which, in turn, will bring greater demand for other businesses, including more retailers, a grocery store and other services.

The bottom line, it appears, is that downtown’s future is looking very bright—something that makes Tomlinson’s ever-present smile a bit brighter.

Although not a native Tulsan—Tomlinson grew up in Bartlesville and Shawnee—she has lived in Tulsa with her family for 23 years. “I always wanted to live in Tulsa,” she says. “I always thought Tulsa was pretty and loved the feel and the people here.”

One of Tomlinson’s daughters, a senior at the University of Oklahoma, apparently shares that same Tulsa love.

After showing downtown Tulsa to a college friend, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, and was interviewing for a job in Tulsa, “her friend decided that she didn’t want the job but that she wanted to live in Tulsa,” says Tomlinson, who believes that there are many similar young ones who would make the same decision.

“You look at places like Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore., places that people want to be,” she says. “Those places have already happened.

“With Tulsa, we’re still new, still developing. People can move here and be on the front end of that revitalization.”

Updated 12-11-2013

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