A local developer has submitted the only proposal for a Tulsa Development Authority-owned tract of land in downtown's East Village, indicating it hopes to build a three-story, mixed-use development on the site that includes retail and residential space.
Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based real estate firm hired by the authority in 2007 to market several Tulsa properties, received just one response to its request for proposals for a series of properties in the East Village by the Aug. 20 deadline.
That proposal came from the Tulsa-based University Development Group, which wants to build its Lofts on Frankfort project on a parcel at the southeast corner of S. 3rd Street and Frankfort Avenue, adjacent to the Blue Dome District and three blocks south of ONEOK Field, the city's new downtown ballpark.
The proposal for the 0.32-acre site includes seven commercial units on the ground floor that would be used for retail or office space, 20 dwelling units on the second and third floors, and an underground garage that would feature 26 parking spaces. No price tag for the venture was included, but the developers hope to open the doors by June 2012, if approved.
TDA executive director O.C. Walker II said the authority is waiting for an appraisal of the property to be done before entering into negotiations with the developer. He hopes to have a tentative agreement in place within the next several weeks so that the authority's board of directors can take up the proposal at its Oct. 13 meeting.
"We're certainly honored that this developer stood up and was excited to start development in the East Village," Walker said. "We want to see development proceed in the East Village."
The lot in question consists of 14,000 square feet and is currently empty. The proposal submitted by the University Development Group indicates the project would have a modern, community-inspired feel on the commercial level, and an open interior featuring natural lighting for the second and third floors. The developers state they hope to attract young urban professionals to the lofts, which would range in size from 925 to 1,075 square feet.
Though it is relatively small, the Lofts on Frankfort project would represent a significant addition to the East Village, a large area on the eastern edge of downtown that has struggled economically for many years. Much of the area consists of weedy, vacant parking lots or abandoned manufacturing facilities.
A number of major projects have been proposed for the East Village over the years, including a ballpark, a soccer stadium, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a new library and a park; although none have become a reality. The area's most successful neighborhood is known as The Bend, a mix of retail and residential projects created by developer Micha Alexander that is located along S. 3rd Street between Kenosha Street and Lansing Avenue.
The Lofts on Frankfort would be in close proximity to The Bend. Alexander said he knew nothing about the planned project, but he welcomed the news.
"As far as I'm concerned, I think it's a good thing, as long as it goes through," he said. "It does nothing but bring more people through my neighborhood, so I'm definitely happy about it."
If the Lofts on Frankfort project is approved, it would add nearly two dozen residential units to downtown, something that supporters of the area believe would play a major role in the area's revival.
It also would be the second significant transaction to take place in the East Village in recent months. An out-of-state developer purchased several properties between S. 4th and S. 5th streets and Frankfort and Elgin Avenue in early July for a mixed-use development.
The East Village long has been considered a possible site for a large park or a new central library, a project the Tulsa City/County Library Commission's long-range planning committee is exploring. Walker said he believes a new library would be an excellent fit for the East Village, while the library's current downtown home could be put to good use for commercial purposes, given its proximity to the BOK Center.
Several other TDA-owned or city-owned parcels in the East Village that are being marketed by Jones Lang LaSalle did not draw any responses by the Aug. 20 deadline, but Walker is hopeful they'll draw some attention soon.
"Those sites are still available, they're still on the market," he said. "We're still happy to visit with any developer on any site the TDA possesses."
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