USA-BMX officials were in Tulsa on Thursday to tour the Evans-Fintuve site north of downtown and other Tulsa properties in search of a new home for the organization’s Olympic training facility and headquarters, according to several sources familiar with the selection process
The Frontier agreed to grant the sources anonymity so as not to jeopardize their positions in the selection process.
Other properties that have been discussed as possible sites for the BMX facilities include city-owned land just south of StakeNorth, a city-owned skate park near Mohawk Soccer Complex at 56 Street North and Highway 75. The city has also considered an undisclosed property near 15th Street and Sheridan Avenue, sources said.
The city is searching for a new site to build the BMX facilities after negotiations to construct them on the old Drillers Stadium property at Expo Square broke down over concession sales.
Tulsans approved $15 million for the project as part of last year’s Vision Tulsa sales tax package.
Since USA-BMX’s deal with Expo Square fell apart in May, city officials have been looking at city-owned properties of at least 15 acres in search of a replacement site. The city has also heard from private property owners interested in making their land available, the sources said.
Nick Doctor, the city’s director of community development and policy, declined to comment for this article.
City leaders have been looking for years to develop the Evans-Fintube property, which covers approximately 23 acres along the 100 block of North Lansing Avenue. The two massive steel structures on the property once served as home to Bethlehem Steel, Evans Enterprises, Kentube Engineering and other businesses.
The city issued a request for proposals for the property in late 2013 after hearing from developers interested in building a mixed-use project on the site. The city, which did not limit the RFP to mixed-use proposals, never found a project that worked.
One obstacle standing in the way of developing the site is the condition of the buildings and of the land itself. Evans-Fintube is one of several city-owned properties being remediated under the city’s Brownfields program.
Brownfields are industrial or commercial properties that are abandoned or underused and have or potentially have environmental contamination that makes redevelopment difficult.
Michelle Barnett, the city’s Brownfields program coordinator, said the city completed remediation of the two massive structures on the Evans-Fintube property in January but that the land on which the buildings sit has not been remediated.
“We did some cleanup of the site in January … asbestos and lead-based paint inside the buildings,” Barnett said. “Now we’re planning the next part — soil cleanup.”
That work will include removing the metals, lubricants and other materials that were commonly present in the foundries and metal shops that occupied the property, Barnett said.
She estimated it would cost $1 million to $3 million to complete the remediation of the Evans-Fintube site and that the work could be done as early as the end of 2018. The city has received $600,000 in grants for the remediation of the property, some of which was used to remove the lead and asbestos from the structures on the site, Barnett said.
City officials have remained adamant in their belief that they will be able to find a new home for the USA-BMX facilities.
USA-BMX officials have been no less definitive.
In a statement issued to The Frontier earlier this month, B.A. Anderson, CEO of American Bicycle Association, said: “We look forward to being part of the Tulsa community in the near future and are committed to our home being in Tulsa.”
The plan to build the USA-BMX facilities hit a major roadblock last month when Anderson notified Expo Square officials that he could not agree to the pouring rights arrangement at the fairgrounds.
Expo Square President and CEO Mark Andrus told The Frontier that the fairgrounds’ sponsorship agreement with Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling Company calls for the company to be the sole provider of non-alcoholic drinks on the property.
“We have a very restrictive agreement,” Andrus said. “We don’t have any flexibility.”
The BMX Grand Nationals have been held inside the River Spirit Expo Center at Expo Square for several years. Officials from USA-BMX announced last year that they had agreed to move their headquarters from Gilbert, Ariz., to Tulsa as part of a deal to build the training facility at Expo Square.