QuikTrip Wins Approval To Enlarge Store In Tulsa's Pearl District
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa City Council narrowly approved QuikTrip's plan to enlarge its store in the Pearl District.
Pearl District residents say the new store will go against ten years of planning.
QuikTrip says it designed a state-of-the-art store just for the neighborhood, and won't change its business model.
After three hours of discussion Thursday night, council sided with QuikTrip and approved plans for the new store at 11th and Utica.
Opponents say there was a conflict of interest in Thursday's vote.
The QuikTrip Corporation says the current store at 11th and Utica is too small for the amount of business bustling through every day.
"You can see how cramped it is right now," said Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip spokesman. "We don't have enough parking to accommodate our current customer flow and we don't have enough pumps."
QuikTrip wants to build a bigger store like the one at 15th and Denver. QuikTrip will bulldoze the current facility. The new building would be located in the middle of the property. The plans call for closing a nearby alley and part of 10th Street that would turn into parking lot space.
But those plans violate the Pearl District's small area plan.
"There's no point in having plans and getting citizens to be involved in small area plans, if they are going to toss them out the first time a big corporate citizen seeks to change it," said Teddi Allen with the Pearl District Association.
The Pearl District has zoning unlike anywhere else in Tulsa that took ten years of citizen input to finalize.
New buildings must be located at the very corner of the property with any parking behind the building to make it pedestrian friendly.
"There is a reason for everything that we do," Thornbrugh said. "What they want us to do is change our business model completely, and we are not going to do that."
The Tulsa City Council listened to input from supporters and opponents of the plan.
"This is Route 66, the mother road," supporter Kay Price said. "The very essence of Route 66 is the automobile."
"What if I wanted to build a pool and I don't have enough land, can I just shut down a street?" said an opponent of the plan.
The Tulsa city council vote was 5-4 in favor of QuikTrip. One of the councilors who voted for it, Phil Lakin, was questioned about a possible conflict of interest.
The Pearl District brought up that Lakin, the CEO of Tulsa Community Foundation, has the CEO and Chairman of QuikTrip, Chet Cadieux, on his board of trustees for TCF.
Lakin spoke with the city council attorney and the attorney said the decision is up to Lakin as to whether there is a conflict of interest.
Lakin said there wasn't and did not recuse himself from the vote. The city council decided to address the conflict of interest policy at a future meeting.
The Pearl District Association says the city exempting QuikTrip from zoning rules sets a dangerous precedent for other companies wanting to do the same thing.