Oklahoma City and Tulsa are making significant progress on quality of life amenities. The cities are Oklahoma’s two largest metropolitan areas and have seen significant growth—economically, culturally and socially.
Roy Williams, President & CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber recently spoke about the changes happening in Oklahoma City: “Two years from now, we move up to a new tier, which was our objective, to move to a new competitive set. We’ve turned something we really didn’t have, a hospitality industry, into the fastest growing sector of our economy. It is hiring more people at a higher rate than any other part of Oklahoma City’s economy.”
“I think what is happening in our city, especially with A Gathering Place for Tulsa, exceeds the hype,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.
$777 Million Capital Improvement Project to Further Improve Oklahoma City
In 2009, Oklahoma City citizens passed the MAPS3 $777 million capital improvement program which funds the construction of eight projects throughout the city. While construction of multiple projects has been completed, some of the largest projects are currently underway, with construction scheduled to be completed by 2021.
Scissortail Park – This 70-acre, fully programmed park will connect the core of Oklahoma City to the shore of the Oklahoma River. Construction is underway on the 40-acre section across from the new convention center and will be completed in 2019, with the lower 30-acre portion set to open in 2021. The park will provide a variety of recreation activities, including walking/biking/running trails, picnic sites, youth sports fields, play areas and interactive water features.
Convention Center – The new convention center and its adjacent headquarters hotel will allow Oklahoma City to compete for 80% or more events held in the U.S., further developing the region’s hospitality industry. The $277 million center, which is projected to open in 2020, will feature nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 45,000 square feet of additional meeting space.
Streetcar – Key to Oklahoma City’s connectivity will be the Oklahoma City Streetcar, which is currently under construction and will open in late 2018. The streetcar’s two route options–which span much of the central business district and surrounding areas—will serve 22 stops and provide easy access to many of Oklahoma City’s attractions.
New Riverside Park to Act as Catalyst for Economic Development in Tulsa
In 2012, the George Kaiser Family Foundation announced plans to build a large park, the Gathering Place, in the Riverside area of Tulsa. Phase I (66.5 acres) is set to be complete in Sepember 2018. Phase I includes an adventure playground, mist mountain, sports courts, a skate park, a great lawn for concerts and events and a lodge where guests can enjoy food, drinks and a lounge area.
Gathering Place will also offer kayak, canoe and paddleboat rentals to tour Peggy’s Pond. Multiple restaurants with affordable dining will dot the park, including the Boathouse Restaurant at ONEOK Boathouse.
Gathering Place represents the largest private gift to a public park in U.S. history. The full project is being funded by a mix of corporate and philanthropic Tulsa organizations. Planners anticipate the development will be a catalyst for bringing new economic development opportunities to the area. It is estimated to attract more than one million visitors annually.