Scissortail Park view to include offices, condos
Chicago-based JLL has offices in 80 countries and in addition to design and development, the firm also represents institutional and retail investors and high income clients.
Michael Swaldi, senior managing director of Jll's land practice group, said the firm will help envision, build and finance Strawberry Fields and "where applicable" sell individual parcels of Strawberry Fields to other developers.
Pat Salame, whose prior experience was in smaller residential properties, started acquiring properties in the former Orndale neighborhood in 2015 as the blighted area was opened up by the relocation of Interstate 40 south of downtown and the old highway's replacement by Oklahoma City Boulevard.
Salame now controls more than 80% of 50 blocks between Interstate 40, the Oklahoma City Boulevard, Hudson Avenue and Shartel Avenue. Most of the blocks have been cleared of older structures and debris, but development has yet to start.
Salame recently filed a permit to clear the former Blumenthal Transmissions property along the 500 block of S Walker Avenue — the largest demolition yet for the development.
"Oklahoma City is the best kept secret in the southwest," Swaldi said. "The sheer acreage is extremely attractive for future development. The city has invested in some stunning spots in this area including Scissortail Park, Chesapeake Energy Arena, the new Omni hotel convention center, the botanical gardens and so much more."
JLL is teaming up with Salame on the "Wellness District" section of Strawberry Fields, 6.23 acres in the northeast corner of the development that Salame hopes will include an Urban Renewal owned strip of land fronting Oklahoma City Boulevard.
The first building in the Wellness District, The Lucy, at Walker Avenue and Oklahoma City Boulevard, was already designed by MA+ Architecture as a "momentum" project aimed at making a statement to the public that the development is proceeding.
The five-story, 55,000-square-foot office building is 50% leased, Salame said, and has two anchor tenants, MA+ Architecture and GE Johnson Construction, which will occupy the second and third floors. The first floor is set to be space for a restaurant, and the building design also envisions a rooftop bar.
Salame said she expects construction on The Lucy to start within the next year pending finalization of work on easements.
Design work is underway for condominiums Salame is set to build with Fred Mazaheri in separate partnership on the site of the former Goodwill headquarters. The "Parkside Retreat" section of Strawberry Fields is at Oklahoma City Boulevard and Hudson Avenue, immediately west of Scissortail Park.
JLL is joining up with Salame at a time when several local development projects have experienced delays and financing challenges due to the pandemic.
Salame said she was referred to JLL during a visit with former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros in San Antonio. JLL also was recommended by CallisonRTKL, a global design and planning firm consulting the master plan for Strawberry Fields.
JLL developments include Sun Trust Park & The Battery, a 1.5-million square foot mixed use destination in Atlanta and Monarch City, a 9-million square foot master planned development near Austin, Texas.
"I needed somebody who had a track record with a property the size of Strawberry Fields," Salame said. "They could bring us not just design and tenants, but also capital. JLL's name just kept coming up with people I talked to who had done a lot of this before."
Swaldi believes projects like Strawberry Fields are set to benefit from a hoped-for end of the pandemic as millions are vaccinated.
"COVID-19 ushered in a new, unknown operating environment across all industries including commercial real estate," Swaldi said. "As the world restarts and reopens, the areas around the site will start reactivation. Simply put, people activate development."
JLL also has a corporate location division that works with global companies on site searches. Swaldi said that division will bring Oklahoma City into conversations with relocation clients.
"Strawberry Fields as a location possesses great attributes our clients seek to establish attractive corporate locations," Swaldi said. "Quality labor, the competitive costs, airport access, ability to recruit quality talent, affordable housing and proximity to higher education assets are some of the most important location criteria, each of which this area holds."
Staff writer Steve Lackmeyer is a 30-year reporter, columnist and author who covers downtown Oklahoma City and related urban development for The Oklahoman. Contact him at email@example.com. Please support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe.