Discussion about incentives for New Orleans Square redevelopment likely coming


By John Dobberstein, Editor

With a $4.4 million streetscape project wrapping up and new developments emerging of late, the New Orleans Square (NOS) retail district in south Broken Arrow appears far ahead of where it was several years ago.

But the city may be aiming for an even bigger impact. City Manager Michael Spurgeon told the Broken Arrow City Council this week that he wants to discuss with them potential incentives to drive more private investment in New Orleans Square.

The City Council approved an overlay district in 2021 to help guide design and redevelopment of New Orleans Square. The district was approved after the New Orleans Square Advisory Committee spent 3 years studying challenges facing the retail area and discussing possible solutions.

Working with city staff and a consultant, the Advisory Committee reviewed and green lighted the overlay district before the City Council approved it.

But at a Planning Commission meeting last year, the city’s Community Development Department admitted the overlay district’s restrictions were hindering some potential developers. City planners at the time said they were looking at whether modifications to the development guidelines were needed to provide more flexibility.

Spurgeon told the City Council this week that he wanted to discuss possible incentives in the next couple of months — possibly during the city’s upcoming budget workshops. He did not specify a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district, although the city already has several TIF projects that have been successful.

NOS’ retail spaces are currently 90% full and sales tax revenue generated by NOS is three times that of the Rose District downtown. The 120-acre shopping area, fully developed, would potentially dwarf many other shopping centers in the metro area and be a significant revenue source for the city.

“When we think about NOS we think about the existing structures, however we forget about all the parking lots, and there is land in at least three of the quadrants with potential,” Spurgeon said, “and if we can continue to think big and do something to create more density and stimulate private investment with the tools we have, I think that is something we need to consider.”

The City Council recently approved plans for The Quarter at Cypress Point, a 1-acre retail center that would be built just west of the Mr. Mambo Mexican Grill & Cantina restaurant in underutilized parking space in Vander Acres Center, along New Orleans Street, just west of Elm Place.

The developer is Red Dog Construction, which spearheaded the Cypress Place shopping area adjacent to Home Church at the intersection that has Jimmy’s New York Pizzeria, Waters’ Edge Winery, Summer’s Market and Griffin Orthodontics.

The design statement submitted by Red Dog said The Quarter at Cypress is proposed to be a retail center with a courtyard and possible restaurant or café. Retail shops and restaurants are permitted in the development guidelines.

“I am excited that we have somebody who is ready to invest in this area because it’s a hard time right now with interest rates to do that and to make it profitable,” said Third Ward Councilwoman Christi Gillespie.

A few weeks ago, Crunch Fitness announced intentions to build a facility in the former Reasor’s store on Elm Place, although development plans have not been submitted yet.

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