This is a Tulsa World article. [The words in red italics are MY commentary.]
New upscale outlet mall planned for west Tulsa
The Turkey Mountain trails that could potentially be affected by a proposed outlet mall at 61st Street and U.S. 75 are not part of River Parks, the River Parks Authority executive director said Friday. [But they are widely used and accepted.]
"Trail-users at Turkey Mountain go wherever," said Matt Meyer. "It is kind of a self-made trail that spills over on to private land." [These are trails that were there before a lot of the other trails even existed.]
Simon Property Group, which owns Woodland Hills Mall, announced Tuesday that it is planning to a build a new upscale outlet mall in the Turkey Mountain area.
Meyer said River Parks was never consulted about the mall project because it is being built on private property. [But they should have been. The developers knew they would see opposition and wisely (on their part) kept the project on the down low.]
"If it was on our property, we would have an opinion on it," Meyer said. [Surely you have an opinion, Matt.]
The city released a statement Friday on the planned development.
"The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, which includes many public trails that Tulsans enjoy, is not the tract of land identified for any type of retail development," city spokeswoman Michelle Allen said in the statement. [But it IS so close that it has a huge affect on the land adjoining it.]
"Turkey Mountain is a point of pride for Tulsa, and the city will continue to focus on ensuring compatible development that can protect and improve quality of life for residents while positioning the city for economic growth," Allen said.
Meyer acknowledged that the Turkey Mountain trails map had included trails on private property. That map was taken down Friday afternoon and will be revised, he said. [A mistake. Did someone get their hand slapped?]
The announcement of the proposed outlet mall has sparked concern among trail-users.
Sammy Davidson, 44, has done mountain bike training on Turkey Mountain for 16 years.
“Turkey Mountain has the most diverse trail system in the state of Oklahoma,” he said. “It is by far the best.”
Davidson said his concern with the proposed mall extends beyond the approximately 56 acres of private property it would occupy to the precedent it might set.
“I am afraid that once concrete is poured, it is just going to continue,” he said. “It is such a great place in our backyard to get away."
He said he fears another developer coming in and developing the other side of 61st Street and continuing east to the river. [A valid fear. Money talks and greed rules.]
Davidson's hope is that local philanthropists would step up to purchase the land and keep it in its natural state. [I wish this had happened with the 53-56 acres.]
“I just don’t want the land bulldozed and a concrete pad put on it and steel buildings put up,” he said.
Development of the mall will require zoning changes that must be approved by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and the City Council, according to Planning Commission staff. [And this has to be voted on? All voices need to be heard on this issue.]
City Planning Director Dawn Warrick said the city does not recruit development projects for privately owned property.
"We often field questions related to local plans and regulations or provide demographic data (such as Buxton reports) for people interested in developing on private property," she said in an email. "In this instance, the city was approached by the developer/applicant with consent from the private property owner to pursue a development on this site." [I agree that a private owner has a "right" to sell his land. But this is a wrong plan. It is not a vision--it is very poor foresight.]
As of noon Friday, the developer had yet to submit plans for the mall to the Planning Commission staff.
The Planning Commission and the council take public comments before casting votes on zoning changes. [And where can we be a part of this?]
The outlet mall will be located near U.S. 75 and 61st Street, just north of the Tulsa Hills shopping center, said Robert Alexander, senior vice president of leasing for the mall portfolio of Simon, on Tuesday. The site has already been leased, although construction has yet to begin. Two things: it is not just neat 61st and HWY 75. It is on part of the urban wilderness regardless of who owns what. It is not "just north" of Tulsa Hills. It is one mile north.
The design and size of the outlet mall hasn’t yet been finalized, Alexander said, although he expects it to be similar to Allen Premium Outlets in Allen Texas, near Dallas, only somewhat smaller.
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
[I have said before that I am not opposed to Tulsa having an outlet mall. There are a lot of other plots of land in the general area that would work well for the mall and not take away from our urban wilderness. the SE corner of 61st and HWY 75, the land south of the Creek turnpike west of the river, The SW corner of 71st and Elwood, and several other areas west of HWY 75.
Anther real problem with the mall being put at 61st/HWY 75 is the traffic. Right now, at rush hour, traffic is backed up for 2 miles from I-44 to 71st Street. Traffic has tripled on 61st and Elwood since Tulsa Hills was developed. I KNOW. I live at 68th and Elwood. People further west who use the 71st Street river bridge take 61st to avoid the un-synchronized stoplights at Tulsa Hills. The new, intersection stupidly did not add a left turn bay and the morning and evening traffic at the light is ridiculous. Put this mall in and all the traffic will quadruple or more. Surely they will have to redo the intersection again, as well as widening 61st Street and also Elwood. How can this possibly be done without the wilderness area losing MORE TRAILS? And will that be crammed down our throats too?]