Broken Arrow's Tiger Hill nearly ready for restaurants
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 7:28 AM
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BROKEN ARROW - Crews are nearly finished preparing the site for a cluster of restaurants whose backdrop will be one of Broken Arrow's most recognizable landmarks.
The $1.1 million excavation of the northern base of Tiger Hill - a wooded knob owned by the city northeast of downtown - is due to wrap up by the end of the year, said Norman Stephens, Broken Arrow economic development coordinator.
The city now seeks three or four "nice, sit-down style" restaurants for the newly leveled 6.2-acre site at the southwest corner of Kenosha (71st) Street and Lynn Lane (177th East Avenue), he said.
"I hope in the very near future, we'll be in a position to start announcing" tenants, he said. "I think especially with the Broken Arrow Expressway right there, it will be a tremendous draw."
Tiger Hill, named for the Broken Arrow school mascot, is "one of the first things you see that you know is Broken Arrow" while traveling on the Broken Arrow Expressway, Stephens said.
It also represents a vivid childhood memory for people who grew up in the city, he said. The hill is rumored to have been a popular romantic lookout for teenagers and the site of large king-of-the-hill games between high school students before the 1960s.
A century earlier, it was a landmark for cattle drives through Oklahoma, local history expert Clarence Oliver said.
"Tiger Hill is one of the most iconic spots, for lack of a better word, for people who are from Broken Arrow," Stephens said. "I think it's a part of a lot of people's growing up."
From the restaurants' slightly elevated perch, diners will have good views to the north, west and east, he said. On the street, the slope will appear to loom over the businesses.
"It's going to be beautiful," Stephens said. "I think it's going to do very well."
The development, dubbed Hillside Park, is funded by a $13.7 million tax increment financing district that was created mainly to fund downtown improvements and site work for a flight simulator manufacturer that opened on city property south of the hill in 2011.
Tiger Hill was included because TIF districts are funded by new sales tax revenue generated within their borders over time, and officials feared that downtown's small businesses - the major tax generators in the district - would not generate enough, Stephens said.
"We realized that we'd need to help Main Street pay back the TIF," he said.
Since the project began earlier this year, crews have removed "loads and loads and loads" of dirt as they flattened a portion of the hill's northern slope, Stephens said.
The project also includes a retaining wall, erosion control and storm sewers.
Although plans have called for decorative letters spelling "Tiger Hill" on the retaining wall, a more visible marker on the top of the hill may be sought, Stephens said. It would share the space with three water tanks and two radio towers.
The restaurants would rent their sites from the city and build their own buildings. Serious negotiations are ongoing with one company so far, Stephens said.
"I think when the first one comes, it'll be one of those things where the next ones will follow pretty quickly," he said. "You have just high, high traffic counts there."
The development is near shopping centers anchored by Reasor's and Target, and nearby restaurants include the Olive Garden and Hideaway Pizza.
Original Print Headline: Tiger Hill prep nearing end
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Construction crews work on a retaining wall last week on Broken Arrow's Tiger Hill at Kenosha (71st) Street and Lynn Lane (177th East Avenue). STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Construction crews are preparing restaurant sites on the northeast face of Broken Arrow's Tiger Hill at Kenosha (71st) Street and Lynn Lane (177th East Avenue). STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Improvements at Tiger Hill in Broken Arrow include a retaining wall, erosion control and storm sewers funded in part by a tax increment finance district. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World