Development proposal pitched for Norman includes new sporting arena, exposition center
NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma Foundation and economic development officials unveiled ambitious plans Tuesday to make future efforts to develop land along Interstate 35 between Robinson Street and Tecumseh Road a slam dunk.
The plan, developed by CallisonRTKL, specifically puts forward proposals to build a new sporting arena for OU events, an entertainment district, an exposition center and single, multifamily and senior housing in an area bordered by Rock Creek Road on the south, I-35 on the west, Tecumseh Road on the north, and Max Westheimer Airport on the east.
It also proposes the construction of an additional 225-room hotel.
The motivation behind the work is to create an area where planners believe people would love to work, live and play, someone affiliated with the project said.
The plan focuses on the north half of a development Norman and its economic development officials have been working on for more than a decade that's known as University North Park.
The park's southern half, which also is still being developed, is predominantly retail-focused and includes the Embassy Suites by Hilton Norman Hotel & Conference Center.
It includes more than a dozen restaurants and more than two dozen retail businesses that comprise about 335,000 square feet of space.
Highlights of the master plan put together by CallisonRTKL for University North Park's northern half include:
• A 40,000 square foot exposition center that would be located in the property's southeast quarter, just north of Rock Creek Road.
• Two hundred units of senior living housing and 1,150 units of multifamily housing that also would be in the property's southeast quarter.
• A 36.4 acre entertainment district located on the southwest quarter of the property, bordered by Rock Creek Road, I-35 and 24th Avenue NW. This would include the new arena, which would cover about 14 acres. It would hold 10,000 spectators and offer club, boxed and suite seating. It would be supported by 2,600 parking spaces in a garage. The entertainment district also would include the new hotel, an events plaza, a festival street and other sites set aside for office, entertainment and restaurant use.
• The property's north half would be divided into 283 lots for single family homes.
CallisonRTKL unveiled the plans Tuesday afternoon at a meeting of the tax increment financing district for the University North Park.
Tuesday evening, it also presented those plans to members of the Norman City Council, which held a special workshop to see the presentation.
Jeff Gunning, a senior vice president with CallisonRTKL, said the area, mostly owned by the OU Foundation, is one of the last large pieces of undeveloped land near I-35 in the Oklahoma City metro area.
The proposed arena could host regional NCAA events and OU basketball games and would make the overall project a regional draw, he said.
"The arena is a real game changer for the area," he said.
Attorney Dan Batchelor, whose Center for Economic Development Law is working with the city to find development options for the land, said Norman isn't obligated to fund the development proposal.
But, he also estimated it could cost about $466 million to develop the project during the next 10 years.
On Tuesday, several council members said they were concerned what Norman's cost might be to carry the presented plans to fruition.
Norman Mayor Lynne Miller said Tuesday's the plan has potential.
While she noted the city's long-term plans for the area always have included residential development, she also said creating an entertainment district in Norman is "something exciting for us to look at."
Miller also cautioned, however, that the plan is preliminary in nature.
"This is the very beginning of a huge, complex process," she said.
Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›
Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›