By DAVID LLOYD JONES
PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT: The $60 million Regal Plaza is under construction near Memorial Drive and East 104th Street. It will consume 26 acres of retail and arena space, to be known as the SpiritBank Event Center, which will seat up to 5,000 people for concerts.
Courtesy Remy Development
Some time in the next 18 months or so, weather permitting, Bixby will have a brand new $60 million shopping center named Regal Plaza.
With 880 feet along Memorial Drive just south of East 104th St. (just south of the Starworld 20 movie theater) as the primary entryway, the project will eventually consume 26 acres of Bixby real estate. The idea, says Sherry Remy, who serves as the marketing genius for Regal Plaza and her son Tim, the developer, will be to have a gargantuan collection of upscale shops and restaurants to serve the Bixby and south Tulsa areas. But there is more, and it is the more that makes this project of interest to people who live miles away: It will have the only privately owned event center in Oklahoma.
The center already has a name: SpiritBank Event Center. What it doesn’t have is walls or a ceiling. “The foundation is being poured,” Tim says. “As soon as we can get the roof on, we’ll be able to ignore the weather as long as a tornado doesn’t come along. We expect to get the roof up in mid-summer and hope to open the building in the autumn of 2008.
“We are going to have an auditorium that can seat up to 5,000 people for concerts and 4,200 for sports events. We will be able to handle basketball and arena football right off the bat. We will have the building plumbed for an ice arena if we want to get into ice-skating or hockey, but we won’t put in that equipment at first. We will be able to handle conventions, auto shows, business meetings and a host of other attractions. We’ve even been contacted by a jazz festival.”
“We’ve already had someone contact us about using the center in September of next year,” says Sherry Remy. “We had to turn them down because we can’t be absolutely sure the building will be ready by that time.”
Events in an event center should come as no shocker, but the other plans for space in the center go a bit outside the box. “We plan to have at least 25,000 square feet of space for retailers with high-end shops on the ground floor. On days the center isn’t being used, people can stroll through it just as in would any upscale mall,” says Tim.
“On the third floor we’ll offer 30,000 square feet of office suites with each suite using no less than 5,000 square feet and with each suite having its own sky box. In that way we’ll be bringing in rental revenue from the stores and business offices as well as from selling out the arena.”
Two upscale restaurants are planned for the SpiritBank Event Center and catering capabilities will be provided. An open space of 10,000 square feet, separate from the arena itself, will be available for everything from business meetings to lavish weddings.
Much planning still lies ahead. The color schemes have yet to be decided, for example, and a booking and arena management team lies in the future. But the deadline is the middle of 2008.
Most civic centers are expected to lose operational money, deriving their usefulness by offering attractions that bring money into the community but when you combine the revenues from the rents of the shops, the leases on the office space, and the revenues received from the various individual attractions, the SpiritBank Event Center (the bank paid for the naming rights) is expected to pay its own way. Somewhere the ghost of Roe M. LeVell must be smiling.
“He was my grandfather,” says Sherry, “and he was a born entrepreneur. He was raised dirt poor in Milburn, Okla. and as a young man he saw far greater opportunities in Tulsa than in Milburn. He came here and in time had a car lot, some gas stations, a radiator shop, garages and a ranch. He was a mentor to Tim and me.”
“Independence was bred into us,” says Tim.
How did the Remys get into the development business? Sherry’s husband, Leon, ran an auction company. Once he had to auction a house and to do so he needed a real estate license. He got so intrigued in real estate he changed occupations and the Remys went into residential real estate. They liked the commercial side better and switched their firm, Heritage Realtors, to that side.
Tim became fascinated by real estate, and while still a high school student studied for a license. He got it at the age of 18. “I think I was the youngest broker in Oklahoma at the time,” he says.
If there is one thing the Remy family has learned it’s the value of diversification. “The 1980s were very hard on us,” says Sherry. “Then our primary focus was residential real estate, and in the midst of the oil bust money simply dried up. We had to struggle to survive but we learned a lot from that.
“Now we have seven family members from three generations with 14 different corporations,” says Sherry. “Every one has their own areas of concern and we try not to fall all over each other or get in each other’s way. At the same time if a problem comes up we all know who to contact.”
While the event center is the center of attraction, it is just the major part of a shopping and business complex that will have that part of Bixby humming.
“In addition to the space at the center,” says Sherry, “we are going to have 130,000 square feet of retail space. We’ve already signed up firms for 40-45 percent of that although we can’t announce any of the names quite yet.
“We can tell you that fronting Memorial Drive, and not included in the 130,000 square feet, will be an Applebee’s restaurant and a Popeye’s Fried Chicken along with a dry cleaners and a Copper Town Coffee outlet.
“There is also going to be a hotel with over 100 units built on the site so people coming in for an event will have a place right next door to stay.”
So what is this costing the city of Bixby? “Very little,” says Bixby city manager Micky Webb. “We did have some infrastructure costs and we agreed to let them keep one cent of the Bixby city sales tax generated within Regal Plaza up to a total of $5.5 million, but beyond that Bixby is getting a tremendous facility free.”
Just how many shops will eventually grace Regal Plaza will be determined by the square footage needs of its stores, but the Remys think that by the time the event center will be opened they will have most if not all of the space leased.
And the chamber of commerce of one of the fastest growing cities in Oklahoma will have something