Proposed OK-POP museum seeks one-time bond issue for funding
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
5/02/12 at 7:41 AM
A proposed popular culture museum for downtown Tulsa won't need any state funding to operate, according to a pre-design study being distributed to state lawmakers.
Museum backers are seeking a one-time $42.5 million state bond issue to finance construction of the project.
While they don't make the comparison, the contrasts to the half-built state Native American Cultural Center in Oklahoma City are obvious.
The cultural center has been the beneficiary of three state bond issues totaling $63 million and millions more in city and federal funding. The Oklahoma City project is asking lawmakers for another $40 million bond issue this year.
The authority that is building the facility has already gotten $35.4 million in state appropriations since 1997, including about $30 million over the money to finance the facility's debt, according to Office of State Finance records.
"We will not need an appropriation to operate," said Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn.
The pre-design study projects annual operating costs for the museum - known as OKPOP - at $2.1 million, including a staff of 22. That amount will be covered by admission charges, annual donations, income from the facility's planned five-story, 650-space parking garage, facility rentals and other nontax income sources, the report shows.
The historical society has a track record of developing facilities that are self-supporting, most prominently the Oklahoma History Center just northeast of the state Capitol, Blackburn said.
The Tulsa museum is envisioned for a 90,000-square-foot lot donated by the Bank of Oklahoma along Archer Street between Boston and Cincinnati avenues.
The four-story museum would feature almost 25,000 square feet of exhibit space and another 41,000-square-feet of other public and semipublic space, including research areas, classrooms, performance space and retail operations.
The museum would be dedicated to the creative spirit of the state's people and the influence of those artists on popular culture around the world, the report says. Its permanent collection would include artifacts, archival materials, film and video, and recorded interviews.
Blackburn said he thinks the facility has a chance to be one of the handful of elite pop culture museums in the nation, putting Tulsa in the exclusive league with Nashville, Seattle, Cleveland, Ohio, and Los Angeles.
The $42.5 million price tag on the project is higher than previous estimates, but Blackburn said it now reflects specific input of architects and construction companies.
The costs include $26.7 million for the museum and $10.7 million for the parking garage. The proposed bond issue also includes nearly $3 million for architectural and consulting fees, enough to ensure the building will have a world-class look, Blackburn said.
If the Legislature approves a bond issue for the project this year, the report envisions design and preconstruction work to begin in 2013, construction to begin in September 2014, exhibit installation to begin at the beginning of 2016 and a grand opening in June 2016.
The state's first payment on the project wouldn't come due until fiscal year 2015, by which time some 300 jobs would have already have been created by the effort, Blackburn said.
A unique set of circumstances - including low interest rates, the incipient state of Brady District development and the backing of Tulsa philanthropists - make the project feasible, but not for long, Blackburn said.
Legislative leaders have said publicly that there is little chance for a bond issue other than a possible $160 million to $200 million package to do repair work to the state Capitol, but Blackburn said the Tulsa project is time-sensitive.
"If we delay two years, I think this goes away," he said.
Original Print Headline: Pop museum seeking one-time bond for funding
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
OKPOP, as the museum would be known, is proposed for the Brady District, and could be one of a handful of elite facilities of its type, Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn said. Courtesy