What many of us feared might happen has inched a little closer this week. Real estate giant Simon Property Group formally revealed plans to build a 400,000 square feet outlet mall on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain. They have a few more hurdles to jump over but it looks like it is going to happen.
I cannot imagine a worse place for an outlet mall. Turkey Mountain is an urban wilderness used by thousands of Tulsans for hiking, biking, running, and just a generally getting away from it all.
It is huge, huge enough that by the time you get a half mile away from the parking lot you are pretty much on your own. It is hard to find solitude like that in a city.
The basic problem is that only about a third of the mountain (very very roughly speaking), the eastern third closest to the Arkansas River is public land. The next third to the west is owned by the George Kaiser Family Foundation who have announced that they are not selling their land for development. The western third is private property. It is unfenced and unposted and all sorts of people, including me use it like we do the rest of the mountain. We really cannot expect private landowners to provide us free public parks. The city or some other public entity needs to step up and buy the various properties. Where is the money to come from? I don’t know.
On the other hand Simon Property Group is expecting the city to step up and provide free enhanced road access and other infrastructure. I am totally against that. Why is that we are totally against welfare to poor people but trip all over ourselves to give money to companies worth billions of dollars?
So I’ve already emailed by brand new city councilor telling her my feelings on the issue and asking what her position is. If you are a Tulsa citizen then contact your councilor and let them know how you feel about this mall. In fact email Simon Property Group and politely let them know also.
The dirty little secret about shopping malls is that they are declining. Tulsa has several shopping malls that are in severe decline. Maybe Simon could rebuild an out mall in such a location and leave a wilderness alone.
One thing for sure is that if we don’t do anything we’ll lose a big chunk of Turkey Mountain.
I don’t know about you.
But that is unacceptable to me. If it is built I’ll still have a place to live.
Not everybody is that fortunate.
A Statement from the Developer
Linking to Our World Tuesday