Downtown Tulsa developer pulls out, but officials have not given up hope

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 10:55 am
By: News On 6

A downtown Tulsa project falls through. After three years, the East Village plan is no more. The main developer for the downtown project has pulled out. They say they had trouble finding large national retailers willing to take a chance on the area.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg visited the area near 2nd and Greenwood and says it was an ambitious idea, 120 acres worth, but much of the area remains vacant. Still, there are other downtown developers who say all is not lost.

When it comes to downtown, Michael Sager doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. For years, he and other independent developers in the Blue Dome district have been gradually creating a restaurant here, a nightclub there, to the point where there is now a critical mass. "Blue Dome went from absolutely zero to probably a dozen establishments with more on the way."

He says he's disappointed there wasn't as much luck with the nearby East Village project. "We've been hopeful but hesitant that was actually going to come through with major retail tenants." But he's not all that surprised, he says, because national chains aren't doing as much expanding right now.

He says there's still a good chance a big retailer will come downtown, but he says East Village might have been too much too soon. "120 acre is an enormous development. If we could do it 20, or 15, or 10 acres at a time, then we'd be doing very well."

He expects someone will come along to pick up where the East Village developer, a company called Desco, has left off, now that the contract that Desco had on the land for two years has expired. "It takes the handcuffs off that Desco's had for two years, and opens it up for other people to look at."

City officials say they won't stop working on finding people to locate downtown. Meanwhile, don't be surprised if the independent developers keep their impressive track record going too.