Not Enough. Supporters of an effort to build a new community center in west Tulsa came up short in their effort to secure all the funding for the project by their Oct. 14 deadline, but they did receive an extension on that cut-off date.
The Rev. Willard Jones, executive director of the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project, said his organization now has until Nov. 25 to raise the $7 million it needs to build a planned 20,698-square-foot community center on West 55th Place in the South Haven neighborhood. The group already has raised slightly more than $6 million toward that goal but stood to lose $2.25 million in matching funds from the Mabee Foundation and other groups if it didn't secure the entire amount by the middle of October.
Jones said on Oct. 18 that an additional $940,000 needs to be raised, although his organization has been given several more weeks to meet that goal.
"We will not be given any more extensions," he said. "We have to hit the mark at that time. But we have several very promising foundations that might give us more money."
The community center is designed to play host to a number of social-service organizations, including Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Goodwill Industries, Campfire USA, the state Department of Human Services, Family and Children's Services, A Pocketful of Hope and the Association Centers for Therapy. Oklahoma State University also plans to operate one of its Bedlam clinics on the site.
The project's $7 million budget includes a building endowment and a program endowment designed to make the community center self-sustaining. Anyone interested in pledging money for the project can call 446-3145 or visit gccdp.com online.
Still a Desert. A planned new grocery store in an underserved area of north Tulsa took another step toward becoming a reality earlier this month when grocer Scott Smith signed a memorandum of understanding to lease a 7,200-square-foot space in the Northland Shopping Center on 36th Street North just east of Cincinnati Avenue.
The site is owned by Neighbor for Neighbor, a nonprofit interfaith organization offering programs that assist the uninsured, unemployed, seniors, handicapped and impoverished.
Smith -- owner of the Blue Jackalope at 306 S. Phoenix Ave. just west of downtown and a leader of the effort to make fresh, healthy food available to people in the so-called "food deserts" of north and west Tulsa -- said his next step in getting the market open will be securing financing of approximately $550,000 to capitalize the project.
He said it will be difficult to borrow that much money, but he said he is considering setting up a limited partnership and attracting silent investors from members of the community surrounding the planned store. The space is adjacent to the planned University of Oklahoma Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Center, which is expected to be completed next year.
The new store would be more than seven times larger than the Blue Jackalope and would serve food. Smith originally hoped to have it open by November but acknowledged last week he won't meet that target date. He has said in the past the renovation of the space will take only four to six weeks.
"If things go well, I'll know within six weeks whether I have the financing or not," he said. "If so, we'll immediately start renovations."
Smith said the renovation is more costly than normal because the space does not feature air conditioning or plumbing, which he will have to install up front in exchange for rent credit. He acknowledged putting that much money into a new store is a bit of a gamble.
"Yes, I worry about it sometimes," he said. "But it seems like the right thing to do."
Smith said he has received several expressions of support from area residents.
"A lot of them have said, 'We would love to be able to go shopping in our neighborhood,' " he said.
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