Tulsa Charity Meets With Unsure Neighbors About Move To Pearl District

Tuesday, September 1st 2015, 11:07 pm
By: News On 6

Tuesday, a downtown charity got the chance to make its case for why it needs to build a new kitchen and food pantry.

Neighbors and business owners heard from the directors of Iron Gate, a downtown Tulsa soup kitchen and food pantry planning on moving into the Pearl District.

The charity held Tuesday night’s meeting in hopes of educating people about what they do, but not everyone is happy with its plans to build at 3rd and Peoria.

Right now Iron Gate operates in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church but said it has run out of space to serve more than 600 meals a day, according to Connie Cronley.

"It's just a bee hive of activity. We want to do it calmer, more efficient, more professionally," Cronley said.

She said since the recession, the charity saw a 407 percent increase of people depending on food from the kitchen.

Cronley and board members hope to build a $4 million dollar soup kitchen and food pantry in Pearl District at 3rd and Peoria, but the move is getting resistance from business owners and residents living in the area.

8/25/2015 Related Story: Pearl District Community 'Blindsided' By Charity's Relocation Proposal

So to plead their case, Iron Gate requested to delay a Board of Adjustment hearing last week for the chance to have an open house meeting for the neighbors.

Iron Gate members took several questions from crowd members like Ken Williams, who owns property near Iron Gate’s proposed site, who doesn't think it's a good move.

"It's one of the principal growing areas of Tulsa and this thing will have a bad, bad, economic impact on it," he said.

But not everyone feels that way, Pearl District record store owner Violet Rush said she supports Iron Gate's move to the community.

“We should be glad a service like Iron Gate wants to come in and wants to help the families that are there and not push them out," she said.

Cronley hopes people who work and live in Pearl District see why they need to move.

"But this couple over here, this is who we feed. These are James and Marry and they live in the Pearl District, and they come to us for groceries and for the soup kitchen for a hot meal. The merchants are very articulate, but we are their voice," Cronley said.

The Board of Adjustment is expected to return next week and continue hearing Iron Gate's proposal.