Responses mixed to news of sale
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
4/18/12 at 2:36 AM
Related story: Tribe buys center.
JENKS - The sale of the beleaguered RiverWalk Crossing to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has generated a range of emotions, including hope, relief and concern.
Carrie Williams, owner of the RiverWalk Crossing Marble Slab Creamery and one of the few tenants remaining from the center's 2005 opening, said she was glad to hear of the sale.
"I'm ready to get something going here," she said.
Williams said it's critical to get more tenants into the shopping center. Although the office component of the main facility is mostly occupied, the retail side has dwindled to Marble Slab, Los Cabos, The Melting Pot, The Cigar Box and Photographic Designs by Rachel Williams. The center also includes Riverwalk Movies and Midnight Rodeo in separate buildings.
Williams said The Mansion, another nightclub at RiverWalk Crossing, closed last month.
Jennifer Tanner, office manager at RiverWalk Dental Spa, said she and her staff were also happy to hear the news and hope the empty spaces will find tenants.
"It's nice to be excited about something here again," she said.
Tanner said she thinks the center needs family-oriented, brand-name businesses in order to succeed.
Mendy Parish, a broker at CB Richard Ellis/Oklahoma who wasn't involved in the sale, said the Creek Nation should have the resources to revive the center.
"We're excited to see someone come in and purchase it that has the wherewithal to make it work and be a viable project," she said.
The sale price of $11.5 million was in the range she expected.
Parish said the main obstacle to the center's success is the lack of a true anchor tenant that could bring in traffic. Additionally, large amounts of retail probably won't work there, she said.
"It needs to be an entertainment district," she said. "The biggest problem has been its seasonal nature, which makes it hard for retailers to succeed in the winter."
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett expressed concern about an Indian tribe taking over the center, however.
"I do get very worried that the facilities they will be owning and operating, if it's put into trust, won't be generating any taxes."
Putting the property into trust would give potential tribal businesses there an advantage over other businesses in the area - including those on the east bank of the Arkansas River in Tulsa - because they wouldn't have to charge sales taxes, Bartlett said.
And while Chief George Tiger said he didn't have any plans to have gaming in the area, Bartlett said that's another concern he holds.
"I'd hate to see additional casino-related activities expanding from their current facility," he said. "I'm not a fan of casinos. I think they suck way too much money out of a community."
Tiger has said the Creek Nation has an agreement with a lending institution that it will not build another gaming facility in addition to its River Spirit Casino, at 8330 Riverside Parkway, within a 50-mile radius of Tulsa.
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447