September 13, 2010
By Tom Fink
CLAREMORE — City of Claremore Economic Developer Rickey Hayes yesterday confirmed the closing of a deal between Spirit Bank and a western Oklahoma developer which could breath new life into the long-stalled Oklahoma Plaza project.
“As of Friday, Tapp Development of Edmond, Okla. has purchased a portion of the Oklahoma Plaza property with plans to develop it in the coming year,” Hayes said. “Although the terms of the deal are between Tapp and (property deed holder) Spirit Bank, it’s my understanding that Oklahoma Plaza may be back on track — possibly not the same track as it was before, but at least moving forward.”
“After our foreclosure of Claremore Vision LLC (subsidiary of then-project developer Resource Development Inc.), we took the property back in deed and began to study (the project) in depth to see if we could find a way to get it going again — if not in its original form, then in another,” said Mike Mantle, vice-president in charge of commercial lending for Spirit Bank. “After several months, we restructured a deal which we recently closed with Tapp Development in Edmond for the purchase of the front parcel of the property — about 50 acres.”
Although Tapp Development president and CEO Jim Tapp was unavailable for comment on the deal, Mantle said his understanding of Tapp’s plans for the site to involve “pad-ready” or “build-to” projects to expedite potential retail business to locate on site.
The history of the failed south Claremore lifestyle center goes back three years.
In the summer of 2007, Missouri-based development firm Resource Development Inc. purchased one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land inside the city limits, just east of Lowe’s off the intersection of Highway 66 and Country Club Road, south of Wal-Mart.
After a spring 2008 on-site ground-breaking, work to clear the property began in earnest, followed by extensive infrastructure work to assure the readiness of planned tenants for the multi-million dollars “lifestyle center.”
Initial plans for the development were for it to encompass nearly 130 acres, with an estimated total retail square footage of 550,000 feet and an estimated square office footage of 75,000 feet.
As the months wore on, work on site slowed, leaving many to speculate about the likelihood of the project’s completion, and in January 2010, Spirit Bank filed foreclosure proceedings against Claremore Vision LLC, a subsidiary of Resource Development Inc. (RDI), halting the Oklahoma Plaza project until Tapp Development’s involvement.
City officials were pleased to learn of the new development at the Oklahoma Plaza site.
“The City (of Claremore) is proud to be a part of this development opportunity,” said Cassie Woods, director of marketing, City of Claremore. “It’s rare in this type if economy to have development happening, especially in a small community. (Tapp Development president) Jim Tapp has a solid reputation for building a quality development and we are pleased that he chose Claremore as his next project.
“After the previous development project failed we were unsure if we would be able to find a new developer,” she said. “But with a little team work between the City, Spirit Bank, Retail Attractions and Tapp Development, we are able to once again move forward with the Oklahoma Plaza project.”
Woods added that the City of Claremore will be putting $2 million towards the construction of a street between Lowe’s and Rib Crib to take drivers from SH66 to the development site, and relocating the Frederick Road traffic signal to the new intersection.
“We’re also going to be giving the developer (Tapp Development) some tax incentives, but otherwise, Oklahoma Plaza is still going to be a private development,” she said.
Wal-Mart, Sam’s, Neighborhood Market, AMC Theaters, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Chase, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Staples, Office Depot, Kohls, Walgreens, Ross, TJMaxx, McDonalds, Scrivner Supermarkets, Fleming Supermarkets, Sears, and JCPennys are among Tapp Development’s retail clients.