City planner Dennis Whitaker and other unnamed city officials confirmed to the newspaper it was the Route 66 Alliance that submitted the only proposal for a museum on the site, which is on Riverside Drive and Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) in Tulsa. The site also contains the Route 66-themed Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza and the East Meets West statue and the original 11th Street Bridge.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett late last year announced that the city was seeking proposals for the project, which is commonly referred to as the Route 66 Experience.
The city’s vision for the center, as outlined in the RFP, includes a thematic interpretive space, retail space — including a restaurant — and on-site parking.
“The facility’s amenities should reach out to all age groups, complement the surrounding river-downtown experience, be a draw for tourism and be an amenity to local residents,” Whitaker said.
The facility, which would overlook the Arkansas River, could also serve as an outdoor staging area for races or car shows, Whitaker said.
The city has allocated $6.5 million for the project. If its proposal is approved, the Alliance would have to raise the rest of the money. Whitaker said there is no timetable of when the City of Tulsa would make a decision on the proposal.
Wallis is best-known for writing the best-selling “Route 66: The Mother Road” during the early 1990s and voiced the Sheriff of Radiator Springs in the 2006 Disney-Pixar film “Cars.” He and Rick Freeland have run the nonprofit Alliance for several years in an office at the Tulsa Historical Society.
The Tulsa World did not reach Wallis for comment. Wallis also did not officially comment about the proposal in an email to Route 66 News. However, he said he did not tip off the newspaper on who or what group was behind the Route 66 Experience proposal.
Tulsa has long desired to have an anchor Route 66 attraction because travelers often bypass the city on the interstates.
The museum complex was part of the Vision 2025 sales-tax package passed by voters in 2003. The city eventually decided to ask for a public-private development because of the municipality’s tight budgets in recent years.
(An artist’s rendering of Tulsa’s Route 66 museum, circa 2003, via Vision 2025)