Developer withdraws plans for Route 66 mixed-use project in Tulsa, citing construction costs

A developer that sought to build an ambitious Route 66-themed mixed-use project in Tulsa told the city this week it has withdrawn the proposal, citing a rise in construction costs that made it unfeasible.

Sharp Development of Tulsa pulled out of the project this week after the city selected it from four proposals a year ago to redevelop the corner of 11th Street and Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) at the Arkansas River and near the historic 11th Street Bridge at Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza.

The Tulsa World reported:

Kimberly Honea, vice president of hospitality and development for Sharp Development, and Brian Elliott, the company’s chief investment officer, issued a joint statement late Monday explaining the company’s decision.

“We made the mistake of submitting a project that simply cost far more than it would ever be worth after further future construction analysis project costs,” Honea and Elliott said. “The only way we could serve as good stewards of the incentive capital provided by the city, county and state would be to make drastic changes to the scope of the project, which we believe would have put members of the selection committee in the awkward position of determining how much change is too much change, so we have decided to withdraw our proposal.”

City officials told the newspaper it plans to meet with the other developers that submitted proposals to determine the best path, if any, forward. The city had set aside $5 million to aid in the project.

The other developers that submitted plans were Continental Overseas, Ross Group Development and Hund Capital. Ross was associated with the Tulsa-based Route 66 Alliance.

The city had hoped the development would open by Route 66’s centennial in 2026. With this setback, that looks very doubtful.

Sharp’s initial plan included a hotel, restaurants, apartments, an events center, a Route 66 interpretive center, other businesses and a multi-story car-vending machine that would have allowed tourists to take short drives on Route 66 in classic or exotic cars.

The idea of a Route 66-themed development on that tract has been star-crossed for years. Such a facility in Tulsa had been talked about as far back as 2003.

The Route 66 Alliance in 2015 announced an initial 42,000-square-foot, $19.5 million Route 66 Experience project at the site, with a projected groundbreaking of summer 2016.

But years of fundraising for the project came up short, and its projected groundbreaking dates were repeatedly pushed back until the city apparently lost patience.

The city in October 2021 announced a request for proposals for a Route 66 center at the site. The request desired architecture that would create an”iconic-style destination” that is “compatible with views of the river and skyline.”

(mage of the pedestrian bridge at the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza site in Tulsa, near the proposed site of the Route 66 mixed-use development)

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