Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Is Blooming: Broken Arrow District Set for More Growth in 2015

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Is Blooming: Broken Arrow District Set for More Growth in 2015

Article excerpt

BROKEN ARROW - Strong first-year dividends have heightened growth expectations for Broken Arrow's Rose District.

"We believe we've just really gotten started on the development piece, because we've really only opened one building that's new," Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp. President and Chief Executive Wes Smithwick said.

The city program to revitalize its downtown delivered dramatic results in its first complete year, BAEDC Director of Downtown Development Lisa Frein said. The initial $4 million investment to improve streetscapes, improve infrastructure and beautify the tax- increment financing district led to five new developments and 21 new businesses.

That resulted in a $3 return on every $1 of total investment in the arts and entertainment district, and $15 returned for every $1 of government incentives.

Sales tax generated within the Rose District blossomed from $50,721 in 2012 to $71,756 the following year and $110,966 in 2014.

Such returns led the International Economic Development Council to award the BAEDC its Excellence in Economic Development Award last month.

Smithwick said he expects several projects to build on the area's momentum in 2015. The Main Street Square project will create several new retail spots in an old downtown credit union, with That Girl Can Cook and Fleet Feet already signed to open stores.

A new two-story brick building will contain District@222, 10 urban apartments on the second floor, along with a 120-seat Andolini's Pizzeria. The Woods and Associates insurance agency is building a new home at the Rose District's northern end, and ABB Bank is raising a new branch.

The city will spend $11 million to extend the infrastructure and pedestrian improvements credited for helping downtown Broken Arrow go from an estimated 80-percent-plus vacancy three years ago to 95- percent occupancy now.

"One of our biggest challenges right now is that we don't have any available buildings to rent," Smithwick said. "We expect that we'll continue to have development occur here."

That momentum is carrying over into neighboring regions. To the north, Smithwick said Rib Crib intends to build a restaurant at the corner of Main and Kenosha streets, positioning it at an entryway to the Rose District. …

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