Record Development Year Likely In Norman, Stillwater

Sep 3, 2016

Building permit activity indicates Oklahoma's two major college towns are having a record year when it comes to commercial development.

Stillwater saw its property valuation more than double from $34 million to $84 million between 2014 and 2015, and the city is already only $6 million away from passing that mark.

Stillwater chief financial officer Melissa Reames (REEMS') told The Journal Record's Molly Fleming a lot of that is due to new apartment complexes for students:

Other big projects include The Ranch retirement community, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, three hotels, an expansion at the Stillwater Medical Center, and several new buildings at the Oklahoma State University campus.

In 2015, Stillwater had 100 commercial projects. By comparison, Norman had 213 commercial projects in 2015, which was a drop from the previous year’s 284 projects.

In Norman, the city has already seen more spent on commercial activity than last year.

Norman's retail marketing coordinator Sarah Kaplan said the University North Park center saw a lot of development, but said the east side of town has a lack of services and retail.

“We don’t have a ton of vacant (land) space, but there are needs. We’re seeing a lot of stuff happening on the southeast side of town. The Cedar Lane area is one of the fastest-growing tracts in the metro. But there are no services or retail down there.”

Both cities are in need of grocery stores, which some may find surprising in Norman, where there are five stores with groceries that are part of the Wal-Mart corporation in addition to other grocers. Stillwater Marketing Director Sherry Fletcher said the city could use another grocery store on the city’s southwest side. A Sprouts Farmers Market is moving into the former Consumers IGA grocery store, at Sixth Avenue and Washington Street.

“Grocery might be a gap across the spectrum in Oklahoma,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan said she's also been working with businesses on Lindsey Street to help them attract customers during the ongoing road construction.

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