After years of planning and preparation, the city is about to get a new downtown advocate and caretaker.
The nonprofit Downtown Tulsa Partnership will begin operation July 1, assuming and expanding on the role played by the Downtown Coordinating Council since 2009. The DCC’s staff members, who are city employees, will become employees of the new nonprofit.
DCC Executive Director Brian Kurtz is expected to serve in a similar capacity with Downtown Tulsa Partnership.
“I am working with a group of external stakeholders on the Downtown Tulsa Partnership side,” Kurtz said, “and we are collectively working with internal city staff on a final management agreement (with the city) that would take effect July 1 for the Downtown Tulsa Partnership to manage the programs and services of the improvement district that the Downtown Coordinating Council oversees today.”
The DCC is an advisory board made up of downtown property owners, business owners and government officials who provide advice and support for the planning, maintenance and marketing of downtown Tulsa.
Its primary responsibilities are to provide supplemental maintenance, beautification and public safety services within the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District, which comprises properties within the Inner Dispersal Loop.
In creating a new public-private partnership to oversee downtown services and programming, Tulsa is catching up with cities across the country that already have such organizations in place.
“When you look at the downtown management districts that are in place across the country, fewer than 1% are housed within the city itself,” Kurtz said.
In fact, when the city went looking for a new DCC executive director in 2018, the job description called for someone who could lead the process of creating a new model for the organization.
“I think it creates a clear delineation between what the city is doing and what enhanced services are being provided by the organization itself,” Kurtz said. “It provides a tremendous amount of flexibility to create new programs, to change the way that we are doing things much faster than what we are able to do as part of the city.”
The DCC has three full-time employees and one part-time employee. Initially, Downtown Tulsa Partnership will have a similar number of employees.
A governing board made up of approximately 20 people will have the final say over how the nonprofit is operated, and a separate advisory board of property owners within the IDL will provide input on how the public dollars DTP receives are spent.
“Downtown Tulsa Partnership will have greater flexibility to address the challenges and opportunities that arise as we build on our strategic investments,” said Chris Bumgarner, DCC vice chair and DTP interim-chair.
The DCC’s budget has been limited to the approximately $1.3 million a year it receives from the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District assessment. Going forward, those funds will be allocated to Downtown Tulsa Partnership, which, as a nonprofit, will have the ability to raise private dollars.
Under the new format, Kurtz said, the governing body of the DTP will have a larger governance role in ensuring that its services and programs are what stakeholders want and need downtown.
“Ultimately, the idea of these groups is very similar,” Kurtz said. “I think at the end of the day it is a group that is championing a prosperous, vibrant and inclusive downtown Tulsa.”
Video: Mayor G.T. Bynum presents the city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year