Big changes could be coming to Arkansas River’s west bank

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By KEVIN CANFIELD
The Frontier

River Parks Authority is considering a restaurant built on a pier over the Arkansas River and a “Boat Yard” packed with food trucks, entertainment and a cocktail bar as possible development projects along the west bank of the river.

The conceptual plans, submitted by a local firm and a Texas company, were the only responses the authority received to its recent request for development proposals.

“Our primary mission is to maintain the park and the public space, but we do look for additional revenue,” said River Parks Executive Director Matt Meyer.

The River Parks board of trustees decided to send out requests for proposals earlier this year after the city of Tulsa opened discussions with the Truck Yard restaurant and entertainment venue in Texas to open a facility inside River West Festival Park.

Meyer said the board believed it was better to not limit its options to just one company.

“We said we need to put it out there for anyone who is interested,” Meyer said.

As if turned out, Truck Yard was one of the companies that responded to the RFP.

The Boat Yard, as it would be called, would be modeled after the Truck Yard.

boat dock
A local architect is proposing the construction of a restaurant and bar on a pier over the Arkansas River. Rendering Provided

Chef Jason Boso started the Truck Yard about two years ago. Boso, founder of Twisted Root Burger Co., took 15,000 square feet of open space and loaded it with food trucks, a beer garden, picnic tables and live music to create a “fun and funky vibe” full of “brews, grub and tunes,” according to the company’s website.

The Boat Yard would be built on a yet-to-be-determined site inside River West Festival Park. As currently proposed, the project would include a 10,000-square-foot patio and courtyard with 3,000 to 5,000 square feet of interior bar, kitchen and restaurant seating.

The other proposed project, River West Pier, would be constructed south of the 23rd Street bridge and include a restaurant, market and bar as well as access to the river for boat, kayak and canoe rentals.

McGill’s Restaurant has expressed interest in being the anchor restaurant for the development, according to the proposal presented by Davies Architects of Tulsa.

rendering2
This concept rendering shows what the proposed Boat Yard restaurant and entertainment could look like. The image is based on the Truck Yard restaurant and entertainment venue in Dallas. Rendering provided

The company’s vice president, Anna Davies, stressed Wednesday that the proposal is meant to be an “idea generator” and that nothing has been finalized.

The request for proposals issued by the River Parks board did not include all of the space along the west bank of the Arkansas River that the city initially envisioned for Truck Yard.

It did, however, make four west bank sites — three of them in River West Festival Park and the one south of the 23rd Street bridge — available for possible development.

A committee will be selected to review the RFPs, Meyer said, but no timeline has been established for when or if a project will be chosen.

“We are not legally bound to choose either,” Meyer said.

The committee will use seven criteria to evaluate the proposals, including the project’s compatibility to the park’s mission; the respondent’s experience; timetable for completion, and financial compensation to River Parks.

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