By BOB LEWIS
Since Reasor’s closed its Elm Place grocery store, residents in southern portions of Broken Arrow have been clamoring for a replacement along with enhanced retail shopping options.
On March 29, city officials held a press conference to announce this wish would soon become a reality and then added to the glitter of the project by revealing the city’s long anticipated Innovative District is expected to become its neighbor.
After months of negotiations, the city said it has reached an agreement with OakTrust Development to bring a 60,000 square-foot Reasor’s Food Store along with a new mixed-use development to city-owned property near 5601 S. Aspen (145th E. Ave.) just north of the Creek Turnpike.
Under terms of the agreement, the developer will build 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space over a four-year period that will include a 168-unit apartment complex.
City officials estimated the development will represent a $40 million private investment in the city.
Former Mayor Craig Thurmond compared it to the Bass Pro Outdoor World store on the city’s northside in terms of business attraction and economic enhancement.
The project got underway with Broken Arrow City Council and Broken Arrow Economic Development Authority meetings on March 25 to approve a resolution which recommended its approval. The city council, acting as the Economic Development Authority, then signed a Memo of Understanding with the developer to purchase the 39.96-acre site as part of the business agreement.
Another action taken was support for the formation of a new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to fund public improvements needed for the project. Through it, the authority will provide $5.53 million in total infrastructure improvements, including a new traffic signal at Norfolk and Aspen, a deceleration lane, water line, sanitary sewer line, one building pad site, and a new road from Norfolk east from Aspen.
City Manager Michael Spurgeon said, “Our Economic Development team has been working with the developer and grocery chain representatives since last summer on this tremendous opportunity for our community and specifically south Broken Arrow. We are thrilled to make this dream a reality.”
Then Came More Good News.
At the conclusion of the announcement of the partnership with OakTrust, City Manager Spurgeon turned the floor back over to Mayor Thurmond and Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Conway for a surprise announcement regarding a land purchase for the city’s future innovation district.
She revealed the long-awaited development is tentatively planned on 90 acres of property located between Aspen and Olive south of Florence (111th Street).
Plans for the district which were first unveiled in 2007 call for a unique space where businesses, educators, city leaders, and others can come together and build ideas and projects together.
Long term plans include large office space, housing, restaurants and entertainment in an attempt to recruit new desirable businesses, like tech companies and other high-paying industries.
The city hopes the innovation district will help bring and keep young talent in Broken Arrow rather than have these people seek career opportunities elsewhere.