Route 66 Museum/Center Planned For Downtown Tulsa

Wednesday, May 20th 2015, 1:18 pm
By: News On 6

Plans for another new downtown Tulsa museum was unveiled Wednesday.

It is not the OKPOP Museum planned for the Brady District, but rather it's the Route 66 Center and will be located at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Southwest Boulevard.

The price tag on plans for a Route 66-themed center to be built in Tulsa reads $19.5 million. It's a way to continue the revival of interest in the “Mother Road.”

The Route 66 Alliance has been around since 2008 and is now ready to get started on a long-time dream.

If all the money is raised it will be built on land along the Arkansas River, with a goal of respecting the road's history while giving it a modern twist.

The Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge crosses over what many refer to as the “Mother Road.” And in the next couple of years, if all goes as planned, it will look drastically different.

Cyrus Avery II spoke about the unique building design Wednesday and about how much his grandfather, a Route 66 pioneer, would appreciate all the planning.

“He would be truly amazed by center's bold design, and location will capture attention of visitors and spellbind them,” he said.

It's going to be an interactive, themed experience with restaurants and shops all in the heart of Tulsa. Organizers said they already have $5 million pledged and have about a year to raise the rest.

“This is going to be such a cool part of the renaissance of Tulsa. I'm like ‘Wow, this is gonna be awesome,'” said newly named Executive Director of the Route 66 Alliance, Ken Busby.

Busby stood with some of Tulsa's top architects and developers as they announced the concept to the public.

“All this time I've been waiting, and having to go behind the scenes and make it all ready, and now we are ready to launch and we go full force to make it happen,” he said.

The city of Tulsa owns the empty land and has promised to keep it off the market for another year while the alliance raises the remaining $15 million to fund the project.

“We will give them a little time and add benchmarks for them to jump through to show they have that capability,” said Tulsa Mayor, Dewey Bartlett.

We're told there is already national and international interest from sponsors, and not to mention tourists.

“They really enjoy seeing Americana and Tulsa is in the middle of it all,” Bartlett said. “Literally in the middle of this whole thing called Route 66, so let's take advantage of it.”

On top of the $15 million needed to build the center, the Alliance said it hopes to also build up an endowment; so if the economy were to ever take a turn there would be money to fall back on.

If all goes as planned, it should open in 2018.