Finally: TDA to allow Wilkinses to develop across from ballpark

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A proposed hotel/office/retail development in the Bob Wills District that was stymied in 2008 by Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Tulsa Development Authority now looks to move forward, five years later and after a lawsuit and settlement.

The half-block west of Elgin between Archer and Brady is owned by the Tulsa Development Authority. Currently a parking lot, it was previously home to a Fuelman unattended gas station. Developers Will Wilkins and Cecilia Wilkins (Will's mother) plan to build a four- to five-story building with retail on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, and hotel rooms on the upper floors. They have a tentative agreement with the TDA; final agreement is expected at the TDA's August 1 meeting.

In December 2007, a TDA staffer suggested to the Wilkinses, who had worked with the TDA on a number of previous infill projects, that they consider developing the site, across the street from the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce's planned mixed-use development.

Planning and negotiations were moving along smoothly for several months, until then-Mayor Kathy Taylor set out to get the Tulsa Drillers in a new ballpark downtown. Long story short, in August 2008, the TDA cancelled the Wilkinses' exclusive negotiating rights to the site -- part of an effort to control all the land around the ballpark -- the Wilkinses sued, and the suit was finally settled a few days before going to trial in June 2012.

You can read a detailed account of how Taylor and the TDA treated the Wilkinses in the BatesLine archives:

The Control Freaks' Squeeze Play: The history of the proposed development, who made it unravel, and the damage done to Tulsa as a place for creative entrepreneurs.

TDA chairman's letter announcing intent to terminate Wilkinses' exclusive negotiating period, and Kathy Taylor's response

Novus Homes sues City of Tulsa for interference: In 2009, The Wilkinses added the City of Tulsa and Kathy Taylor to their lawsuit against TDA. This entry explains
what they learned in discovery that led them to add the City and Taylor to the suit.

That last link also has links to other BatesLine articles covering the dispute.

My dilemma in this November's mayoral election is that both candidates have, as mayor, badly mistreated good people trying to do good things for Tulsa and have hurt the City's reputation and progress in the process. I'm not talking about oversights or mistakes, but deliberate actions. There are plenty of examples in Dewey Bartlett's column, but this is one of many in Kathy Taylor's column -- a positive downtown development had to wait five years longer than necessary because of her bulldozer approach to the ballpark deal. If either Bartlett or Taylor were truly repentant for their bad actions -- publicly acknowledged what he or she did wrong, why it was wrong, and how he or she plans to ensure that he or she acts with integrity in the future -- it would go a long way toward winning my support.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 31, 2013 12:49 PM.

Do new OKC skyscrapers have to go downtown? A Parisian possibility was the previous entry in this blog.

Bell's is back: Robby Bell outlines park's rebirth is the next entry in this blog.

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