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Developer to tear down former hospital to make way for retail center, restaurants

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Dallas developer plans to open a retail center with a Best Buy and a Bed Bath & Beyond on the site of a former hospital by spring 2005.

Tulsa County land records show the property, on the south side of Interstate 44, sold for about $6.3 million.

Worth Williams and John Luscher bought the 24-acre property under Whitewing Norman LLC.

``It's a great piece of real estate,'' Williams said. ``We plan on building a first-class retail center on the site.''

The former Children's Medical Center on the site will be demolished within two to three weeks, and retail center construction is scheduled to begin by late summer.

Williams said major retailers prefer big-box-style buildings, as opposed to the existing two-story building and four group homes.

The buyers liked the site's location, high visibility and traffic.

In addition to the two lead tenants, the center will have several other national retailers and restaurants, Williams said.

The center will be about 200,000 square feet. A second phase is planned for fall 2005.

Williams has worked on several similar developments in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, but this is his first in Tulsa.

The Tulsa property has been vacant since 2000, when Hillcrest Riverside Inc. put the property on the market. Patients and some employees had relocated to Tulsa Regional Medical Center and Hillcrest Medical Center.

The Mabee Foundation bought the site for the Children's Medical Center in 1972.

Regent Preparatory School of Oklahoma, a private organization, announced plans to buy the property in March 2003, but school officials changed their minds after a four-month period to raise money.
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