Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big business property developer buys part of Turkey Mountain to build an outlet mall!

(This is the press release that brought joy to shoppers, and heartbreak, disbelief, and rage to hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers in Tulsa.)

New upscale outlet mall planned for west Tulsa

OKLAHOMA CITY — Woodland Hills Mall owner Simon Property Group is planning to a build a new upscale outlet mall in west Tulsa, a company official said Tuesday.

Simon Properties’ mall portfolio announced the project during the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Oklahoma Idea Exchange at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

The outlet mall will be located north of the Tulsa Hills area near U.S. 75 and 61st street, said Robert Alexander, senior vice president of leasing for the mall portfolio of Simon. The site has already been leased, though construction has yet to begin.

“We think the outlet mall will be great for the city of Tulsa,” he said. “The local government and chamber of commerce have been great to work with.”

Alexander said the design and size of the outlet mall hasn’t yet been finalized, though he expects it to be similar to Allen Premium Outlets in Allen Texas, near Dallas, only somewhat smaller.

Allen premium outlets has 100 stores, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Adidas, Ann Taylor, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Coach, Gap Outlet, J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion and others.

Alexander said he didn’t have any further information on the project, which is being undertaken by Simon’s premium outlet division. Public officials who know of the project said it will be at the northeast corner of U.S. 75 and 61st Street.

Simon Properties, owners of enclosed malls and outlet malls throughout the country, also owns and operates Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa and Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City.

Though Alexander said Simon is committed to its enclosed mall, the overwhelming majority of its current $1.7 billion development of new shopping centers internationally is focused on outlet malls.

“Our outlet group is bullish on the market,” he said.

Alexander said that while other malls have declined or remained flat during the recession and its aftermath, Oklahoma’s malls have performed well.

“I can tell you that year after year, the way we make our growth in the company is through Oklahoma,” he said.

Earlier this year, Simon completed the first major mall-wide renovations at Woodland Hills Mall in nearly 20 years. The project included new mall entrances, updated restaurants and a new food court. Alexander said removing a small island of shops and restaurants between the food court and the rest of the mall was difficult, as it involved relocating tenants who had long-term leases.

But he said opening up the space was worth it.

“We’ve had some Simon executives touring the space, and they were impressed,” Alexander said.

Robert Evatt 918-581-8447


My take on all this? I live on Turkey Mountain (actually .2 miles from the trailhead) and I am just sick about all this crap. I did some mapping and math to find just what we are losing.

Map of our wonderful trails.

This is what 53 acres looks like. I know that the property extends from the Highway to the gas pipeline easement. I show that to be .21 miles or 1108 feet. . By taking the square footage of 53 acres, I determined that the property extends .39 miles to the north or 2060 feet. If I am wrong and the width is less than .21 miles, then the property extends even further north.

This shows the trails we lose. The Half and Half Marathon loses almost a mile of the 6.5 miles of beginner-friendly trails it uses. It will require a major r-route to make up the distance. Likewise, the Turkey and TATURs will need wholesale remodeling. I am sure that some of the mountain bike events will be affected as well. Beyond this, one of the most scenic vies is on the very trail that will soon be a parking lot. On the Old Boys trail, this vista makes you feel you are miles from civilization when you are only yards from HWY 75, and a half mile from I-44.

So the 800,000 square foot outlet mall dumped on Turkey Mountain goes in. Now little two lane 61st street will not handle the thousands of bargain shoppers who cut through on Elwood to avoid the traffic at Tulsa Hills. Picture this, folks: 61st street and Elwood are widened to at least 4 lanes. Maybe 6. Think of all the trails we lose when that happens. The trails that meander along 61st Street will be to an added 2 lanes--plus they will probably be so nice to throw in some 8' concrete sidewalks. The traffic even now on 61st Street and Elwood Avenue has tripled since Tulsa Hills was built. Residents from west Tulsa who need to commute over the 71st Street river bridge skip the deluge of un-synchronized stoplights by McDonald's/QuikTrip/Lowe's/and 1000 other stores--and speed over on 61st Street and rocket down Elwood only to wait at the 71/Elwood stoplight at the newly improved intersection that was widened from two lanes to TWO LANES. OOPS?!?!? It is impossible to get through this intersection in the morning drive in less than 10 minutes due to this lack of foresight. Now let's quadruple the traffic flow with shoppers. Believe me--all of the 1.6 miles from 71/Elwood to the outlet mall will be widened in a big way. How do you widen Elwood going up the hill? Goodbye Lipbuster.


Facebook has been on fire with wails of discontent, and brainstorming on ways to stop this travesty. My friend Matt Carver posted this on Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness website. (YOU REALLY SHOULD READ THIS)


Bob Doucette who writes a blog called Proactive Outside echoes my sentiments exactly. It is just plain wrong to scrape the land bare to install buildings to sell stuff.


Finally, a trail running friend John Morelock, who is a gifted and published author, read of our situation and shared one of his writings on Faacebook, which actually soothed my rage somehow. I am still in a crusader sort of mindset but it seemed to help reading of his similar plight. With John's permission, I share.

From somewhere else: Some of the trails are going away:
I knew it was coming. They had put up the "Public Hearing" signs.

This afternoon as I start the walk/jog/shuffle through the field
that leads to the trail
that leads to the hill
that leads to the forest—
A barrier has been put up.
It is part of the erosion control, the "’scuse us while we dig up everything," make-believe erosion-control system.
The long-awaited subdivision is coming.
I have been spoiled by the nearness, both emotionally and physically,
of the trails and the forests.

The subdivision is coming, and some of the trails are going away.
It was a place of steep ups and downs,
boggy spots and muddy springs,
thorns and poison oak,
frogs, rabbits, squirrels,
and one hawk that used to scare me half to death with its "screeeeee"
as the sun cracked the nearby hillside during my morning runs.

It's just a couple of hundred acres that will soon be crosshatched
with pavement and houses.
It will drain better.
The houses will all be code compliant and properly inspected,
the plants and lawns will all be nicely watered and manicured,
they are ugly,
some of the trails are going away.

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