Correction: This story originally listed the wrong entity that is providing funding for the feasibility study. It has been corrected.
Tulsa has been talking about developing the Evans-Fintube site north of downtown for decades.
Late last year, the talk began to turn into action when work began on an Olympic-quality BMX track and other USA BMX facilities on the north end of the property.
Now the city is setting its sights on the south end, where the historic Evans Building will be preserved and serve as the anchor for a yet-to-be defined economic development project.
City officials announced Friday that HR&A Advisors has been hired to conduct an economic feasibility study to assess the development options for the 11-acre property.
HR&A Advisors also will assist the city in creating a request for proposals for developers and in evaluating developers’ responses. The study is expected to be completed and the RFP issued by early 2021.
“We are truly excited to begin this transformative project which will develop this site in alignment with our values of resilience and equity,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a press release. “We look forward not only to the final recommendations that the HR&A team will provide, but also to an inclusive and collaborative process with the community and our partners as we seek to develop this former Brownfields site in the Historic Greenwood District.”
Nick Doctor, the city’s chief of community development and policy, told the Tulsa World that HR&A Advisors’ first job will be to review the multiple plans that have been created for the site over the last few decades to ensure that they align with the community’s current vision for the property.
“It has been talked of generally as a community hub,” Doctor said. “The site serves as a really valuable connector between neighborhoods in downtown.”
The community’s vision for the development has included restaurants, retail space, a small events center, a movie theater and even a hotel — “things on the entertainment side where families and other individuals can come together,” Doctor said.
The other key component of HR&A Advisors’ work will be to look at those potential uses to determine which ones are financially possible and the most financially viable.
The work will be complicated by the fact that the Evans Building, the former home of the Oklahoma Iron Works/Bethlehem Supply Co., will be preserved and rehabilitated to its original grandeur. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“That site has some unique constraints to it and is really a unique opportunity with BMX being there,” Doctor said.
District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said the study would help set expectations for the community.
“As we approach the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, this feasibility study will ensure that the vision we follow for our city is co-created with north Tulsa residents,” she said.
Tulsa voters approved $15 million for the construction of an Olympic-quality BMX track and a headquarters and hall of fame for USA BMX in April 2016 as part of the Vision Tulsa sales tax package.
After several stops and starts, city officials last year acknowledged that the cost of the project had increased to $22.8 million and would not be completed until 2021.
Tulsa Industrial Authority is providing $100,000 to fund the feasibility study.
Doctor said Friday that the BMX facilities are on schedule for completion in mid 2021.
“It’s going beautifully. They are pouring concrete and have some of the forms for the concrete walls going up,” he said.
The city is excited to finally be moving forward on a development that has been hoped for and dreamed about for years, Doctor said.
“To be able to be intentional about that development to ensure that it aligns with the decades of planning and hoping that has been done for that by Greenwood leaders is going to be an exciting step to take,” he said.
2017 Gallery: New Tulsa BMX arena, world headquarters at Evans-Fintube announcement
Photo gallery: New Tulsa BMX arena, world headquarters at Evans-Fintube announcement
Downtown's long-empty Evans-Fintube industrial site will be the home of USA BMX and a new indoor arena with hopes to host BMX Olympic trials by 2020, officials said Wednesday. Check out photos from the site and the announcement here.