CATOOSA — Mayor Rita Lamkin and city attorney Timothy Studebaker sat down Thursday with InvestCom Properties partner Cindy Robson, PSO representatives, attorneys, national chain representatives and engineers to discuss a plan for road widening right-of-ways and utility easements in order to move forward with InvestCom’s proposed retail space, “The Shops at the Gathering.”
“The Shops at the Gathering” will be built on land at 193rd and Cherokee across from Cherokee Casino. Robson reported at least five new tenants interested in the space in addition to the Hampton Inn and a national drug store chain. Among the tenants are two restaurant chains that Robson described as “major, national sit-down” restaurants. She said the new tenants were almost all national.
“We’re expecting to triple the size of the trade in this area,” said Robson.
In anticipation of growth, Cherokee Street will be widened from 193rd to the front of the post office within the next 60 days according to Robson. Eventually, she said they hope to extend the widening all of the way to Highway 66.
Robson said the widening was important to deal with the influx of traffic expected when the retail space comes into that area.
“A huge amount was accomplished today,” said Mike McLane of Hawkins Companies, commercial developers. “Cook Engineering came in with some specific proposals on how roads and utility lines could be handled.”
McLane said engineer Justin Cook proposed a middle ground that allows for growth and traffic ways along with allowing for leasable square footage.
Cook will be sitting down with Catoosa’s engineer, Doug Alexander, to go over the “rough master plan” proposed at today’s meeting so that Alexander then look at “cost, timing, and regulatory issues” and make a recommendation to the city council, according to McLane.
“There has to be a balance,” said McLane. Buildings need utilities and traffic flow.
“Issues were identified and addressed. I hope everyone sees this as a balanced proposal,” said McLane. “We hope this proposal will be a road map to move forward at an expedited pace.”
For Catoosa, that will mean sales and ad valorem taxes as well as jobs for the community. The retail development is expected to draw people in from a wide area and create an economic boon for Catoosa.
“We have more tenants right now than places to put them,” said Robson.
The retail space has been called the “going home corner” and is considered a prime retail destination due to easy highway access and its location across from the casino.
Lamkin told the group that the city was concerned with drainage problems and would like to see a master plat, but the city is willing to work with national chains who tend to come into a commercial district with their own plans.
Issues involving access, egress, ingress, and utilities were addressed at the meeting according to Robson.
Questions involving signage and city ordinances were also brought up.
Lamkin, Studebaker, and others around the table felt the conference was a positive step forward.
“All these things had to be discussed,” said Lamkin.