A local nonprofit organization is teaming up with a Washington, D.C. developer and a Wichita, Kan., construction firm to build a nearly $40 million mixed-use development in north Tulsa that would include a senior living center, a grocery store and assorted other retail ventures.
Dr. Pat Williams, president of the Tulsa North Community Development Corporation, said plans for the Senior Living Community, as the project is called, began several years ago. She said groundbreaking for the project is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2011.
Williams said her organization conducted a survey in 2005, seeking information from north Tulsa residents about what they wanted for their community.
"They were talking about a grocery store, more retail and the lack of affordable housing for seniors," Williams said, describing the results of that effort.
From there, Williams said, her nonprofit organization -- which she described as a group that seeks to help residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods improve their quality of life through social, economic and spiritual development -- began working with the American Development Corporation, which she described as her organization's equity partner, on a project that would meet those needs for north Tulsa, a historically underserved community. Williams said ADC has four decades of experience in creating affordable housing.
According to a prospectus for the project, Diggs Construction Partnership is also involved in the effort as the general contractor.
What they came up with is a proposal for the three-story Senior Living Community, a 160-unit residential living facility for the elderly, that will be located on a 2.2-acre site on Latimer St. between N. Boston Ave. and Main St. on land once owned by the Tulsa Development Authority. Williams said the project will be located adjacent to Emerson Elementary School.
The residential component of the project, targeted for those age 62 or older, will feature one- and two-bedroom units on the building's second and third floors. It will feature gated security, a function room, a rooftop garden, a health club and pool, and shuttle vans for outings.
The ground floor will feature more than 20,000 square feet of retail space, with space for up to 10 retailers, according to the prospectus. The anchor business will be a 15,000-square-foot grocery store, but a restaurant, dentist's office, hairdresser, barber shop, shoe repair shop, dress shop and bank are also targeted for inclusion.
Williams said those businesses will serve both the seniors living in the building and neighborhood residents alike.
"To north Tulsa, this will impact the entire community because of the fact there's nothing like this," she said. "We usually have to drive 20 minutes or 30 minutes for some of these services we're offering in the project. This will also mean jobs for people. It's quite an impact to the city."
The budget for the project is more than $39.1 million. According to the prospectus, the development will be financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and a first mortgage issued by the Federal Housing Administration. Williams said her organization is applying for the tax credits this month and hopes to earn approval for those in January.
The project partners presented their plans at a business expo in north Tulsa in late October, catching at least one neighborhood resident a bit off guard. Justin Pickard had been planning to open a small neighborhood market on Latimer St. just a block from where the planned development will be located and said he had tried to talk the Senior Living Community's principals into omitting the grocery store from their plans.
But he said he learned at the business expo that the grocery store would, in fact, be part of the development, so he has decided to abandon his plan to open a market and will enroll in urban planning school instead.
Pickard said he doesn't have any hard feelings over the situation.
"It's kind of a positive thing," he said of the development. "They don't seem to have anyone picked out (to operate the grocery store), so they talked to us about running it."
Williams said it's too early in the process for project planners to start signing leases with retail tenants, but she did say one of the purposes of the expo was to reach out to those who might be interested in doing business in the building. She said ADA officials have relationships with a number of national companies, so there is a possibility one of those will wind up operating the grocery store. But she said it was her strong preference that as many local operators as possible be chosen to fill the building's retail locations.
If the grocery store plans reach fruition, that aspect of the project alone could be particularly meaningful to north Tulsa, which has been described many times as a "food desert" -- an area without convenient access to healthy, nutritious food.
According to the prospectus, the building itself will seek to address another social concern by incorporating a number of eco-friendly elements, beginning with its rooftop garden that will feature flowers, shrubbery and other plants. Energy-efficient lighting is planned for common areas, while rooftop solar panels will heat water for residential use. The development also will feature low-flow plumbing fixtures, Energy Star-rated heating, cooling and ventilation systems, Energy Star-rated appliances, energy-efficient windows and other elements.
The projected completion time for the project is 18 months, although Williams said it might be done in phases.
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