Group Hopes To Slow Riverside Drive Development Process

Monday, August 3rd 2015, 11:11 pm
By: News On 6

A community group in Tulsa wants the city to slow down the process of developing land at 71st and Riverside.

A sporting goods store, restaurants and a parking lot could be added there, but the Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition hopes to put it off for a couple months.

The land is owned by the city of Tulsa and is zoned for development and has been for decades. Last spring the city officially asked for development ideas, but some Tulsans worry it's happening too quickly.

Bill Leighty is the founder and executive director of the Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition. His goal is to keep the open park space at 71st and Riverside what it has been forever, maybe with a few upgrades.

"Landscaping, and trees, and water features, and trails," he said.

It was just a few months ago the city asked for developers’ ideas on the land.

"Yes, it could've remained a park, but that wasn't the decision made by the administration. They were trying to find some quality tenant and retailer, or user of some sort, and that's what they felt this did and this process did," said Susan Miller with INCOG.

A firm from Dallas jumped on it and, so far, has gone through all the necessary legal steps to get close to finalizing a deal.

7/29/2015 Related Story: Discussions To Develop Land Near Riverside Continue

Leighty said he is 100 percent in favor of development in Tulsa but thinks other sites might be better.

"We think there are other sites within the 200 square miles inside city limits that would accommodate a nice retailer like REI if that is who it ends up being," he said.

His coalition is asking for the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission to hold off on an agenda item set for Wednesday that would approve a detailed site plan.

He is asking for at least 60 days so the public and all parties involved can take a closer look at it.

"For many people it has flown under the radar, and it's not until the Caterpillar dozer is next to your house tearing down something that you get really interested in these things," said Leighty.

But, if development plans continue on their current track, the Dallas developers will have very specific design requirements and will not be able to touch the trail running through the land.

"We are very protective of the trails and it is important they remain unaltered because that was just a recent improvement for that area," Miller said.

The remaining 40-plus acres are most likely going back down to agriculture zoning, the lowest possible, and will mean any extra development on the 40 acres left over will be a much more lengthy and detailed process.

There is a city-wide zoning update discussion in the works, so the public is urged to get involved.

Public hearings on that will begin in September.