Tulsa Hills TIF in jeopardy

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Tomorrow night the Tulsa City Council will vote on whether to approve a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district for Tulsa Hills, a major shopping destination planned for the east side of US 75 between 71st Street and 81st Street. The center would attract shoppers from west Tulsa, Jenks, Glenpool, Sapulpa, and other cities further to the south and west. A study of retail opportunities within the City of Tulsa identified this site and one near I-44 and 129th East Avenue as the optimum locations for a new major retail development.

Do I need to spell it out again? Retail generates sales tax, and sales tax pays for police, fire protection, street repair, and every other city service. With all the residential development, there's going to be a major retail development west of the river, and if it isn't in the City of Tulsa, we lose.

The idea behind a TIF is that you take an area not producing much in the way of taxes and finance infrastructure improvements to the area via the increase in taxes resulting from new development. Tulsa has a number of TIFs in and near downtown; the one centered on Home Depot has been the most successful.

"Increment" is the key word. The various taxing authorities are still getting the same amount of money they had been getting, but the incremental dollars are used for improvements within the district. The hope is that improvements within the district will stimulate development outside the district that will also generate more tax revenues.

It takes a long time to put together a TIF. You have to get the support of every public entity with a claim on those property taxes. In this location that means the City of Tulsa, the Jenks School District, Tulsa County, the Tulsa City-County Library, the Tulsa City-County Health Department, the Tulsa Technology Center (Vo-Tech), Tulsa Community College, and I think there's one more, but I can't think of it at the moment.

The final hurdle requires the affirmative vote of seven councilors. (Hey, wait a minute -- I thought we couldn't have supermajorities under our Charter.) That may be a problem. Bill Martinson, Councilor for District 5, has been making noises like he may vote against it. In a previous council meeting, Bill Christiansen raised concerns about this new shopping center stealing customers from Woodland Hills Mall.

But the more accurate comparison is to 71st between Garnett and Mingo, a collection of big box stores and smaller retail. East and southeast Tulsa, Broken Arrow, and Bixby residents will still shop along that corridor, because it will still be more convenient than going another seven miles further west.

The real target for this shopping center are the residents of new upscale housing in Jenks, Glenpool, and unincorporated parts of northeastern Creek County. If Tulsa Hills isn't built, these shoppers will still be stolen from 71st and 169, but instead of those retail dollars staying in Tulsa, the new shopping center will be in Glenpool, and that's where the tax revenue will go.

There's another problem if this TIF is turned down. This has been a lengthy process, and if it ends before being consummated, Tulsa will have trouble attracting other developers to anchor other TIF districts.

I encourage you to show your support at tomorrow (Thursday) night's City Council meeting. Help Councilors Martinson and Christiansen understand how important this is to Tulsa.


Not for or against this, because I don't know the details...In general I would be for designating a TIF district, because like you said it would spur on some momentum for other TIF districts.

But I do have a question. There's a lot of retail in west tulsa that slowly died / failed after the 70s & 80s because of the decline in jobs and the economy in that area, the building up of all the retail in other areas of town. ...wouldn't it make more sense to re-build crystal city and some of the other ghost-town shopping centers in west tulsa?

just seems to me like you could get more bang for your buck building up a center that already exists, rather than having to build from scratch again. ...but then again, if the target is jenks and glenpool, and not revitalization of west tulsa and sapulpa areas, etc., the retail chains (as opposed to locally-owned businesses) would likely prefer their shopping center to be new and shiney.

This is definitely a center aimed at retail chains, and it's on a scale that wouldn't fit in Crystal City. Highway access is important, too. 71st provides access across the bridge to wealthy neighborhoods in the western part of south Tulsa. US 75 provides access to Jenks, Glenpool, and the western reaches of Bixby, who may find Tulsa Hills more convenient than the big retail area in Bixby north of the river.

There's going to be a big box power center somewhere in that part of the metro area. Tulsa needs to make sure it is in Tulsa, so we capture those sales tax dollars.

I don't know what we do with a place like Crystal City. Shopping centers of that vintage don't fit modern retail strategies very well. They haven't aged well, either.

I could see Tulsa Hills being a stimulus to people moving to the west side of the river, and that in turn will give someone a reason to redo or replace Crystal City.

Mark B. said:

This site does not need a TIF to develop, it will develop with out it. But hey if the City wants it, so be it, they can use their sales tax revenue, rather than the other government entities revenue.

All the other government entities are in agreement; they won't lose any revenue. Tonight's Council vote is the last hurdle.

sbtulsa said:

reagrding the need for tulsa hills, isn't growth and developement talked about here still south? what do we do about north tulsa and the west side such as red fork and caarbondale?

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

Regarding TIF's - aren't there some issues as to how these affect money to schools? I would sure hate to have an instance where you create a TIF and the end result is that the school district that the TIF sits in loses funds. Of course, we could educate our kids so that they could all be working at The GAP (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Joey Author Profile Page said:


I find it interesting (even amusing) that you are so concerned about the welfare of a big-box retail development project.

I understand the need to build such retail centers in Tulsa and garner the tax revenue they will generate. Also, the need for retail development west of the river for balanced growth. Other than the negative impact on traffic, it's a good project.

But you are more often on the side of limiting retail and big-box growth. If this were a Bank on Cherry Street, would you be so supportive? Or a Lowe's in Brookside? Or an Office Depot in Councilor Neal's district?

Would appreciate your thoughts on the differences in these situations.

reading channel 6 website today; looks like the measure passed.

good for that shopping center -- but again (and Joey has a GREAT point), just like the arena development everyone keeps complaining about, and all the other development projects Joey mentioned -- it would be BETTER if
1) the shopping center were attracting local business as well
2) if the development were done in an attractive manner, rather than what we usually end up getting with malls and other retail chain development
3) if the surrounding area, and community were supported as well. the west tulsa community needs to grow and thrive; not just have a huge strip mall plopped in their front-yard and the rest of the community ignored completely.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 15, 2006 9:15 PM.

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