Chris Ellison is the developer behind the proposed $60 million NOMA — North of Market — project unveiled Wednesday.
But its inspiration is his wife, he said.
Elizabeth Frame Ellison is president and CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, the nonprofit that helped revitalize Route 66 by creating Mother Road Market (2018) and the Shops at Mother Road Market (2020).
“She had this idea that Route 66 was this low-hanging fruit, that it was a fantastic opportunity for the city to co-brand with,” Chris Ellison, CEO of NOMA developer ITULSA LLC, said by phone. “That got her excited. She’s in a position with the foundation where they were really looking to capitalize on some civic ideas, and she ran with that.”
An attorney with many clients in the real estate arena, Chris Ellison envisioned how the couple could complement each other.
“Our work has always remained separate,” he said. “We have different paths but have a holistic view of what it takes to build something. She’s the driving force in creating this district, and she’s really tackling it from some really charitable views in terms of inclusiveness and the way to decrease barriers for entrepreneurs.
“My run on it is that there needs to be balance and there needs to be diversification in terms of building a district. So you need both nonprofit and for-profit to operate in the same space. … This development was born out of the need for more residential density.”
NOMA, 2219 E. 11th St., is slated to open in 2023 and will have modern apartments with high-end amenities, curated retail, restaurants and a neighborhood gathering space.
A total of 256 apartments will sit on the 4.4 acres, with units featuring co-working spaces, a fitness center, a rooftop clubhouse with a dining room and lounge, a hotel-style lobby, a shaded dog park and indoor dog wash facility, a pool with cabanas and grills, many green-space courtyards and 391 dedicated parking spaces for residents and businesses.
“In looking at the district, this is an obvious site,” Ellison said. “It’s a four-plus acre busted concrete parking lot, and I get to put 256 housing units on it. It’s kind of incredible.
“The businesses in the area, they’ve all been struggling for years, and they all need customers. So you add residential density. We want there to be walkability.
“We want more people in a dense area in a hub where you can have commercial offerings and public space and where you can commingle with the neighbors and really kind of create a neighborhood experience.”
Community spaces will include 11,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a central neighborhood gathering space complete with trees, native plantings and festive lighting, planned public art and added lighting and security for the area.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday at NOMA’s groundbreaking that Ellis “has a real talent for pulling together great minds” in the development community and called all his projects “world class.”
“We’re not just talking about housing or development. We’re talking about building a very intentionally designed community right here on Route 66. That’s incredibly exciting.
“Everything that we have in Tulsa that we need to be the kind of globally competitive, world-class city that we want to be in the 21st century, all the ingredients are here.
“All we need are the people, the ideas and the investment. All three of those things are coming together in this project.”
The residential component will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as six mezzanine units, and the outdoor courtyard space will cover 50,000 square feet. Total square footage under roof for the project, including a parking garage, is 463,381 square feet.
NOMA is funded in part by a $5 million development agreement with the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity.
“NOMA will serve as a catalyst for increased development along Tulsa’s Route 66 and will make the Tulsa Market District competitive with other major markets,” Brad Carson, president of the University of Tulsa, said in a statement. “This project benefits Tulsa in its pursuit of talent and the retention of intellectual capital.”