Correction: Photo captions with this story originally had incorrect names for George Kaiser Family Foundation Director Ken Levit and John Hope Franklin Center Executive Director Reuben Gant. The captions have been corrected.

Plans for a $9 million renovation and expansion of the Greenwood Cultural Center to coincide with the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre were unveiled Thursday night at the center.

The project, a collaboration of the Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the John Hope Franklin Center of Reconciliation and the Greenwood Cultural Center, includes a reconfiguration of the existing facility and the addition of a museum, administrative offices and a gift shop.

Preliminary drawings show the four-story museum just south of the Greenwood Cultural Center, with the offices and shop along Greenwood Avenue. The offices and shop would be built in a style similar to those on Greenwood south of the Inner Dispersal Loop.

Phil Armstrong, chairman of the Greenwood Cultural Center board of directors, said the entire $9 million has been pledged by private sources. Armstrong said it is hoped construction will begin this fall. The $9 million is part of a $25 million capital campaign by the center.

The expansion project was announced Thursday evening during a community meeting of the

Centennial Commission at the Greenwood Cultural Center led by Armstrong, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, and John Hope Franklin Center Executive Director Reuben Gant.

Also announced was a May 30 groundbreaking for the Path to Hope, a walking tour of the original Greenwood area. That project is being financed with $750,000 from the Stadium Trust Authority under the terms of the agreement that resulted in the construction of ONEOK Stadium.

Most questions from the audience Thursday night dealt with the potential economic impact of the project and whether it would benefit the neighborhood financially. Several people wanted assurances that black-owned businesses would have a fair chance at construction contracts.

Kristi Williams and City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper criticized what they said was a lack of community engagement in the planning of the project.

Williams wanted to know the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s role in the project, and appeared skeptical of GKFF’s motives.

Matthews, Armstrong and Gant said GKFF has provided fundraising expertise and some start-up funds, and that it has one of nine board positions in the joint venture.

The museum would bring to fruition nearly two decades of effort to construct such a facility. The original plans for a museum and memorial were scrapped when the Legislature cancelled funding for the project in the early 2000s. To keep lawmakers from recalling funds already appropriated, local officials arranged for the construction of John Hope Franklin Park.

The Centennial Commission has scheduled a second community meeting for 6 p.m. on May 28 to discuss cultural tourism and business opportunities associated with the project.

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Randy Krehbiel


Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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