POSTED ON FEBRUARY 20, 2013:
Reporter and News Updates
A Parrothead Start? Margaritaville may soon have a Tulsa address.
No official announcement has been made about a new resort hotel, but leaders with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on Jan. 22 approved Principal Chief George Tiger to "execute a trademark sub-license agreement with Margaritaville of Oklahoma, LLC."
The limited liability company was incorporated in Delaware on Jan. 15. Earlier in January, the MargarativilleTulsa.com and MargaritavilleOklahoma.com domains were registered to Margaritaville Enterprises, LLC, the name of the Orlando-based company that manages the many commercial ventures spawned by the iconic 66-year-old musician Jimmy Buffett.
Margaritaville Beach Hotel on Pensacola Beach, FL
In recent years, the Margaritaville brand has expanded to include a casino and hotel in Biloxi, Miss. and a hotel, resort and casino in Bossier City, La.
In response to questions about the possible new venture, Neely Tsoodle, public relations director for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, wrote in an email that "no announcement has been made official at this time."
It's unclear if such a license agreement would involve rebranding of an existing Creek casino.
On Jan. 26, Principal Chief Tiger, in his State of the Nation address, announced that the Creeks were in the "design phase of a major expansion of the River Spirit Casino."
Tiger said the expansion will include "the addition of hotel rooms, a showroom theatre, convention and meeting facilities, spa, additional gaming and other amenities which will transform the facility to a full scale resort hotel casino on the banks of the Arkansas River in South Tulsa."
Downtown Downer. A planned new school for community medicine will move forward, but not in downtown.
"The University of Tulsa has decided not to complete the purchase of the Hartford Building in downtown Tulsa; the building was to have served as home of the planned Tulsa School of Community Medicine," the school announced in a Feb. 14 statement. Instead, the school "will be located on the OU-Tulsa Schusterman and The University of Tulsa campuses."
The Hartford building, on South Hartford Avenue between East 1st Street and East 2nd Street, is owned by the Tulsa Development Authority, the city's real estate arm.
According to various reports, TU in 2011 had earlier offered $2.25 million for the vacant structure and nearby parking lots.
But as "facilities requirements became more detailed, the projected cost of acquiring and redeveloping the Hartford Building site became prohibitive," according to the TU statement.
School to Become Apartments. The vacant Pershing school building in the Owen Park neighborhood west of downtown has been sold for $495,000, with developers planning on turning the historic structure into loft-like apartments -- with a cafeteria and auditorium revamped as community areas.
The school, on West Easton Street, has officially been on the Tulsa Public Schools surplus property list since 2011.
The board's agenda for its Feb. 14 meeting notes the sale to Tom Wallace.
But Wallace, founder of Wallace Engineering, said he's one of three partners in the project. Elliot Nelson, chief executive officer of restaurant company McNellie's Group, and Michael Payne, owner of the Happy Hammer contracting company, are the other two partners, Wallace said.
"Our hope is that we can get the property rezoned for multi-family, single-unit housing," Wallace said, adding that the group wants to "keep the historic character of the building as much as possible."
The goal is to create somewhere between 20 and 40 units of affordable housing, though not involving Section 8 or other government assistance programs, Wallace said.
"We would like to have it be targeted toward artists or musicians or people who work in the various service industries downtown," Wallace said.
The old cafeteria might be turned into "a coffee bar, restaurant, or catering kitchen," he said, with mixed-use or retail possibly a part of the plan. The auditorium area might be a "community room, certainly for tenants and possibly the neighborhood."
The group will be looking into tax credits for renovating historic properties. Wallace said that if all goes well, remodeling construction work could begin in a year.
"We see the Owen Park area as being an up-and-coming area," he said.
Overlooking the Future. Tucked away on quiet South Quanah Avenue, a piece of Tulsa's Civil War history has emerged into plain view.
Visitors to a nearly complete, new city overlook area adjacent to Newblock Park near West 7th Street can now take in a leisurely view of the Arkansas River -- and the sight of reddish-brown rock protruding across the water.
The natural ford served horse-drawn wagons in the city's early years, though it proved a bane to the Union army during the Civil War. The site is known to history buffs as Gano's Crossing because in 1864 it was used by Confederate soldiers, including Brigadier Gen. Richard Gano, to haul their plunder from a raid on a Union caravan.
Local knowledge of the ford's location allowed the soldiers to safely transport an enormous haul of stolen supplies.
"It's really a great panoramic location in Tulsa," said Martha Schultz, a city planner.
The site, shaped like a semi-circle nearly 85-feet wide, features two tables with chairs, as well as benches for anyone wishing to linger or perhaps rest from a run or bike ride along Newblock Park Trail.
Construction began in December, but the project has been a long time coming for residents of the Crosbie Heights neighborhood just west of downtown.
"The Arkansas overlook is a part of fulfillment of the  Charles Page Revitalization Plan," said David Phillips, a former president of the Crosbie Heights Neighborhood Association.
Phillips said he's seen the neighborhood improve in the seven years he's lived in the area.
"It's changed a lot. It's more people, more young people have moved into the area. People are taking pride in their houses and in their neighborhood, and there's a good sense of community among the neighbors," Phillips said.
Schultz said the project involved $189,800 in construction costs, with Crossland Heavy Construction doing the work. The project remains unfinished, with a sign describing the historic nature of the crossing as well as a light fixture still not installed.
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