BROKEN ARROW — After more than a century in business, Tulsa-based Cowen Construction knows opportunity when it sees it.
So when the city of Broken Arrow requested proposals for the Rose District, Cowen pounced.
Details of that vision were unveiled Wednesday when the developer, working through Milestone Capital LLC, announced plans to build a roughly $18 million mixed-use facility at the site of a former church building that was razed by the city last year.
“Every piece of real estate inside the Rose District is fully leased,” Steve Easley, director of development for Cowen and Milestone, said before the news conference. “You drive down the street, and people are doing yoga; they are running. It’s a young, vibrant community that is just taking off.”
The largest private development in Rose District history, the project features a four-story building that will encompass residential, retail and office space. The 120,000-square-foot development will include 31,660 square feet of space for retail and offices on the first floor and at least 90 residential units on floors two through four. The project also will feature dedicated parking.
“It’s an opportunity that you are not going to find in very many cities, to come in and play a substantial role in the continued growth of a district,” Easley said of Cowen, which was founded in 1896. “We like the urban feel of the Rose District, and the only thing the urban feel is missing is residential units. It’s a pretty simple formula.”
Last year, the city paid $600,000 for the former Assembly of God building in the 300 block of North Main Street and demolished it to make room for development opportunities.
A shopping, arts and entertainment area, the Rose District grew out of a tax increment financing district that includes downtown. The $13.5 million TIF district was approved in 2010, and money generated from sales and property taxes are being used to pay it off.
To assist with the Cowen project, the city, using Vision 2025 surplus funds, will spend $1.5 million in streetscape improvements and $150,000 for utility relocation, City Manager Michael Spurgeon said.
“If you see the investments that are being made in our city — throughout the entire city, not just the Rose District — it tells you that people believe there is going to be a return on their investment,” he said.
“The No. 1 goal of the council was to remove that structure (the vacant church building) because of the (blight) it created. That was tough for a lot of people in this community because it was definitely an icon. But the council had the foresight, along with the EDC (Economic Development Corp.) to make the investment.”
Cowen expects to break ground on the project in January or February, Easley said, and construction could take 12 to 14 months. Tulsa-based Cyntergy is the designer.
“Think of this as connecting dots across the development of the Rose District,” said Wes Smithwick, president of the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and the EDC. “We expect this to open the door to a new wave of northern expansion of the Rose District.
“We are seeing mixed-use projects of this type all across the nation, particularly in areas of downtown redevelopment and revitalization. People like to live near the places where they shop and where they work, so they can walk to them.”