By KEVIN CANFIELD
Jenks now claims it will be home to an outlet mall once planned for a site bordering Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain. But the city of Tulsa is proceeding as if the move is not a done deal at all.
Mayoral Chief of Staff Jarred Brejcha said Thursday that the city has been in contact with Simon Property Group since it was reported that the developer had decided to move its project south.
“Contact has been made,” Brejcha said. “They know we are still interested in them. We haven’t given up on it.”
Whether Simon has given up on Tulsa is unknown. The retail giant is not talking.
“We aren’t commenting at this time,” Les Morris with Simon told The Frontier on Thursday.
Indications are, however, that the move is not inevitable.
Simon has not withdrawn its zoning application with the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission for the proposed mall site near Turkey Mountain. The hearing is scheduled for June 17.
Officials in Jenks, meanwhile, haven’t said a word about the mall since the Tulsa World reported the move last week. Thursday they declined to comment when asked whether the mall would be built in Jenks.
The city’s Planning Department did confirm that Simon has not submitted any zoning or building applications related to the construction of a mall.
Jenks Mayor Kelly Dunkerley has said the mall would be constructed on land across the Creek Turnpike from the Oklahoma Aquarium.
Simon, owner of Woodland Hills Mall, announced plans to construct the upscale outlet mall near Turkey Mountain last year.
It would cover more than 48 acres of private property on the corner of U.S. 75 and 61st Street adjacent to the River Parks Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, according to project plans. The only entrance to the mall would be off 61st Street.
The proposal has drawn strong criticism from some Turkey Mountain enthusiasts who are concerned the mall would encroach on trails and spoil the pristine wilderness setting.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and other top city officials met privately at City Hall earlier this month to try to come up with a plan to salvage a deal with Simon. Less than two weeks later, on May 20, news broke that Simon had agreed to move the mall to Jenks.
One alternate Tulsa site that has been discussed for the outlet mall is Bales Park, a city-owned property at 5801 S. Union Ave. The park is across U.S. 75 from the original mall site and includes four baseball diamonds.
Under the plan, Simon would purchase the 61st Street and U.S. 75 property and swap it for the park land.
City Councilor Jeannie Cue, whose district includes the proposed mall site, said she believes Bartlett and representatives from Simon are still negotiating a deal.
“I don’t really know any more,” she said. “It’s my hope and prayer that we can find a location that is good for everybody.”
Brejcha, the mayor’s chief of staff, declined to provide any specifics of the city’s communications with Simon. But he did make clear that it is not the city’s intent to dictate whether Simon builds a mall be near Turkey Mountain or at another Tulsa location.
“We just want to be helpful in any way we can,” Brejcha said.
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