What could become the biggest jobs generator in the state's
history is planned for a 215-acre site on the east side of Tinker
Air Force Base.
Although it's far from a done-deal, officials are talking about an aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul technology mall, just off S. Douglas Boulevard and SE 59th Street.
This mall, which will be a public-private partnership, would attract some of the top aviation firms, military contractors and their subcontractors. Some work at Tinker's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center also could be transferred there.
Initial work on a four-phase study began Wednesday with contract signing and a check for $100,000.
Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, not only is doing the business case study, but also kicked in $150,000 of the $550,000 study cost.
The signing and check presentation were done at a press conference called by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce where the mall was formally announced.
Besides the Battelle contribution, the chamber and city of Oklahoma City combined to pay $100,000 while the state of Oklahoma is paying $300,000 for the study.
The mall's design will be based on the study results.
"When we make our business case study, we will contact all the potential tenants to determine what their needs are," said David Hofstadter of Battelle. "We will not know what equipment will be there or what the mall looks like until we have their requirements."
If all goes as planned, groundbreaking for the facility could be within two years.
The initial study will focus on establishing a "sound business case why somebody should move here," Hofstadter said.
Once the business case has been made, further phases will include design and engineering along with an implementation plan.
No figures were given for how many jobs would be created by the mall, but both Hofstadter and Richard A. Burpee, chamber president, said there was a huge potential for economic growth.
"Forward-looking Oklahomans have initiated this idea because of the needs at Tinker Air Force Base and the need for contractors and subcontractors," Hofstadter said. "We are looking at a way to bring the public and private operations together in one location at an affordable way.
"Even big companies and the federal government are interested in finding ways to do their work better in an affordable place.
"We intend to provide them with that place."
When the strategic plan is completed, it will outline what "may be the largest economic increase in central Oklahoma," Hofstadter said.
Although other Battelle leaders had made an announcement of the mall concept in February, "this is the beginning of that study," Burpee said.
"We had the idea and the desire, but we didn't have the money before," he said. "Now we have the money and this is the beginning of the Phase I study."
Tinker and Air Force officials appear to be enthused over the mall idea, said Burpee, who is a retired Air Force lieutenant general and former Tinker commander.
"They need more space out there and this is a way to give it to them," he said. …