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Vision Tulsa Programs to Spur Commercial, Retail Development

This article was archived on 1/11/2020

Mayor G.T. Bynum announced on Black Friday the launch of 10 innovative programs designed to spark new energy into Tulsa’s commercial and retail corridors in 2020 and beyond through a comprehensive Commercial Revitalization Strategy. The programs will provide new and innovative tools for developers, entrepreneurs, and businesses launching or expanding within Tulsa city limits. The tools aim to offer a diverse set of resources for businesses of all sizes and in all stages.

The programs reflect four foundational principles:

  1. Support and spur infill development and redevelopment in existing commercial and retail corridors.
  2. Encourage Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).
  3. Support proliferation of local entrepreneurship and small businesses.
  4. Increase the resources available for economic development efforts to recruit retailers of all sizes, including national and big box retailers.

“The commercial revitalization strategy will help lead our efforts in supporting retail entrepreneurship and the revitalization of our commercial corridors while supporting a diverse scale of retailers,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “As an example, Mother Road Market anchored the revitalization of Route 66 through Tulsa, and in 2020 we are providing more tools to local dreamers who can continue the trend in building a globally competitive, world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

Vision Tulsa, passed by voters in 2016, provided $3.6 million for commercial revitalization. Under the new program the funds are targeted to be spent over a three-to-three-year timeframe for economic development particularly focused on small business and new retail outlets, from small local shops, to franchises to national big-box chain stores.

With the launch of the Strategy, more than $2 million of the funds are budgeted for disbursement across the 10 programs over the course of the next 3-5 years. Mayor’s Office of Economic Development Chief Kian Kamas said the remaining funds will be allocated as the success of programs are analyzed in an effort to identify which programs are successful, which might need modified, and where funds can be most impactful.

“The future of retail and commercial development will rely upon the City fostering and growing vibrant neighborhood and commercial corridors that reflect the local character of Tulsa,” Kamas said. “We are excited to launch a new set of tools to foster development, particularly tools that will spur infill development and redevelopment in existing commercial areas, support the growth and expansion of local commercial and retail businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them, and build upon the investments that the City is making in our Bus Rapid Transit system and Destination Districts.”

The Commercial Revitalization Strategy follows the Retail Market Study, which examined 13 commercial areas within Tulsa city limits, representing a myriad of retail conditions in Tulsa. Each area was analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses and to provide a baseline or benchmarking document the City of Tulsa can use to measure the success of the commercial development in those areas going forward, Kamas said.

The specific action steps and programs within the Commercial Revitalization Strategy are:

  1. Expand the City of Tulsa's Retail Recruitment and Support Efforts
  2. Align the existing Retail Incentive Policy with Commercial Revitalization Goals
  3. Establish a Retail Redevelopment and Development Fund
  4. Establish a Development Fee Reimbursement Program
  5. Work with INCOG to Analyze Zoning Patterns in Commercial Areas
  6. Provide Funding to Destination Districts
  7. Develop Start-Up Guides
  8. Support Retail Business Development Programs at Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC)
  9. Encourage the Use of Pop – Up Shops in Vacant Commercial Buildings
  10. Identify a partner to fund Micro Loans for startups and small businesses

Program Overview