The City of Tulsa and Downtown stakeholders are progressing plans to transition downtown management and planning efforts from the City to a new nonprofit entity that will oversee the delivery of enhanced services in Downtown Tulsa.
This new entity, Downtown Tulsa Partnership, Inc., (DTP) will be formed as a result of the ‘Strategic Plan for a Downtown Management Organization’ that was completed in Fall 2020 and unanimously endorsed by a stakeholder steering committee and the Downtown Coordinating Council (DCC).
As part of the Strategic Plan’s recommendations, a new downtown management model will establish a clear delineation between City services and enhanced services provided through the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District (TSID). Doing so will increase the value proposition to ratepayers by maximizing accountability, responsiveness, and reflecting a myriad of Downtown interests.
“As Downtown Tulsa grows and develops, it’s important we provide our downtown business owners with world-class service and resources,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “There are many new things this entity will be able to do and I’m confident the Downtown Tulsa Partnership will continue to grow business and downtown services.”
The plan’s goals and recommendations are based on national best practices and rooted in local community dialogue. Less than 1 percent of the 2,500 downtown management organizations in North America are housed within municipal governments and this effort seeks to align Downtown Tulsa’s management efforts with common national operating models.
The Downtown Tulsa Partnership was incorporated with the state of Oklahoma in February 2021 and will execute a management agreement with the City of Tulsa to implement programs and services funded through TSID. The organization will be governed by a board of directors composed of property owners and business leaders representing diversity in type, size, and geography.
All parties are actively working to transition services and staff to the Downtown Tulsa Partnership and initiate new programs that increase value and responsiveness to Downtown property owners. The full transition is expected to take place by July 1, 2021.
“What excited me most about this role when I came to Tulsa two and a half years ago was the opportunity to create a new place management model to meet the needs of an evolving Downtown,” said Brian Kurtz, Executive Director of the Tulsa Downtown Coordinating Council. “The strategic plan we finalized late last year outlines the ways our core services must improve and expand to create a welcoming environment for all. I’m thankful to the community volunteers and leaders who played a role in crafting this plan and bringing it to fruition.”
City staff and a stakeholder steering committee began working with the place management consulting firm Progressive Urban Management Associates beginning in late 2019 to assess the current state of management practices and formalize recommended improvements for services and programs delivered through the TSID.
The team facilitated fifteen stakeholder roundtables and held individual or small group meetings with two-dozen individuals. A survey seeking feedback on Downtown from the broader Tulsa community collected nearly 4,000 responses. A draft plan was presented to the community for feedback prior to the Downtown Coordinating Council’s unanimous endorsement.
The TSID covers the entirety of Downtown Tulsa and property owners pay an annual assessment of which two-thirds is used to repay bonds used to construct ONEOK Field and one-third that provides enhanced services throughout Downtown such as maintenance, cleaning, safety, and marketing initiatives currently overseen by the Downtown Coordinating Council.
“Downtown Tulsa Partnership will have greater flexibility to address the challenges and opportunities that arise as we build on our strategic investments,” DTP Interim Chair Chris Bumgarner said. “This transition should also give Downtown Tulsa property owners greater confidence in the services and programs they fund through the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District.”
With this transition, the Mayoral Executive Order establishing the Downtown Coordinating Council will be rescinded and the Downtown Tulsa Partnership will be the planning and representative body of Downtown interests.
For a full version of the Strategic Plan for a Downtown Management Organization and transition updates, visit: www.downtowntulsaok.com/strategic-planning