City Council to discuss preliminary Innovation District plan in Broken Arrow


A draft of the Innovation District master plan. A multi-phased approach to the project is being recommended, with the first delivering a density of development “to achieve critical mass” in the district.

By John Dobberstein, Editor

The public is expected to get its first concrete look at plans for the proposed Innovation District in Broken Arrow on Tuesday when a feasibility and impact study is presented and discussed by the City Council.

The Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce hired Beck Design of Tulsa to complete planning and design for the proposed 90-acre mixed-used project that would include office, residential, retail, meeting and event space, entertainment areas and public gathering places. Chicago-based Hunden Strategic Partners is serving as the real estate advisory firm for the project.

The site is bordered by the Creek Turnpike to the south, Florence Avenue on the north and Olive Avenue to the west. Hunden recommends a multi-phased approach to the project, with the first delivering a density of development “to achieve critical mass” in the district.

The plan is slated to be discussed during the Broken Arrow Economic Development Authority meeting, which follows the Council’s regular 6:30 p.m. meeting at 220 S. 1st

Hunden suggests building the project in phases, starting with elements that are the most market supported: residential, flex-light industrial, restaurant/retail, hotel and the initial build-to-suit office space for an anchoring district tenant.

An example of how the incubator/flex space in the Innovation District could look. The image is a concept.

The first phase could include 345,000 square feet in office space in several buildings, along with a business incubator and co-working and multi-use event space.

About 92,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space is recommended to start, along with 245 residential units that would include multi-family, for-sale townhomes and live-work residential units, totaling 263,500 square feet. A 105-room hotel and outdoor entrainment plaza and public gathering space would be included as well.

The second phase could include additional office space, an 80-room boutique hotel, and another 215 multifamily and townhome units, plus 50,000 more square feet of retail.

Hunden recommended the city focus on build-to-suit office space, as class A office markets are struggling in the Tulsa metro and nationwide. The firm noted there has been a shortage of multi-family developments and Broken Arrow has limited hotel offerings for a city its size, with 14 hotels totaling 1,143 rooms.

The project is designed to attract well-paying jobs to Broken Arrow that align with core industries in the city and Tulsa region. Hunden recommends an organization be created that governs, manages and promotes the Innovation District, which could be funded through grants, philanthropy or city funds.

If the report is accepted by the City Council, the next steps would include further written reports, demand and financial projections, more analysis of the economic, fiscal and employment impact of the project and an implementation plan.

Hunden suggested the city of Broken Arrow will likely have to make some upfront investment to induce developers to build certain uses. But they note the innovation district could enhance the value of surrounding land and result in more development that, over time, will merge the district with the downtown area. They believe the Aspen Ridge and Aspen Creek developments will also improve the value and opportunity for the innovation district.

The firm conducted case study interviews with officials in Oklahoma City, Seattle and Houston and cited other projects in North Austin, Texas; Dallas and Fairfax, Va. As examples of successful projects.

The project would certainly be a departure from the vast swaths of single-family homes in south Broken Arrow. But Hunden’s report said that uniqueness is a necessity.

“Successful innovation districts and mixed-use districts as a whole infuse local authenticity into the design or tenant mix of development to conjure local pride and to give the overall development a unique feel that cannot be found elsewhere,” the firm said. “It is important that the district not just be for tourists, but for workers and residents simultaneously. Otherwise, it will fail financially, but also culturally.”

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