Plans are once again changing for the undeveloped Bridges at Spring Creek shopping center.
Sooner Investment, the developer who owns the land south of Hafer Park on Bryant Avenue and just north of 15th Street, is planning to put in a grocery store rather than a department store, pending approval from the Edmond Planning Commission.
The commission was set to hear the proposal in its meeting June 19, but rescheduled the meeting for July 17 at the request of Attorney Randel Shadid, who represents the developer. The Planning Commission typically meets at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 10 S. Littler.
“I’m asking that grocery store be allowed on the east side,” confirmed Shadid on the phone Friday. “We lost our big department store tenant, so we’re changing game plans.”
Paperwork filed with the Planning Commission say Reasor’s, a Tahlequah-based grocer, will go in as the main store on the east side of the development. Shadid and a representative from the grocery chain would not confirm that report, but a model photo of the Bixby store was submitted to the Planning Commission for comparison.
The store would be the largest of the five buildings built on the property and could be as large as 85,000 square feet, according to an application submitted by Shadid.
A long time coming
This shopping center has been planned for about six years. It was first rezoned by the City Council in June 2006, but met a firestorm from residents who signed petitions in massive numbers for a public vote that November.
The rezoning was approved for commercial use in April 2007, but was extended in March 2008 by the Planning Commission when the U.S. economy was in the throes of a recession.
Since then the project has been continually put off and adjustments have been made from the original plans that looked to build as many as seven stores in January 2008.
Now that Sooner Investment plans to press on with a tweaked project, some residents may once again be concerned the developer has gone too far.
“It appears at first brush like they’re scrapping everything they promised before,” said attorney Lydia Lee of the neighborhood advocacy group Bryant ACCORD III. “A lot of promises and concessions were made. Sooner Investment made tremendous effort in the election process on this.”
Lee admitted that she hadn’t yet seen the revised plans. She said she is concerned the revised shopping center would eradicate previous agreements made by the developer with the city and residents.
One concern of Lee’s was whether the development would be visible from the street at either Bryant Avenue or 15th Street. But plans submitted to the city indicate that the development will remain surrounded by trees.
The plans do say, however, that the developer will ask the city to waive the 50 percent landscaping requirement. Shadid said this is because a large tree preserve already exists.
Plans also show that existing trees would be moved to the north side of the development in an effort to maintain tree preservation.
Sooner Investment also indicated that it does not intend to build a gas station, convenience store or fast food restaurant per prior agreements.
Lee also said she understood that there would be no drive-thru in the area and said one connected to a grocery store pharmacy would break that promise.
“To me this is going to be a huge difference from what they promised,” Lee said.
But Shadid seemed to disagree.
“It’s not going to be a convenience store drive-thru,” he said.
The cost of construction
Shadid said he did not know how much the development would end up costing Sooner Investment, but he did have an idea of how much it could bring in.
“It’ll generate about $50 million in sales from there,” he said, noting that the city will get a profit from the sales tax collected.
If things are too different from the original plans, Lee said herself and the Bryant ACCORD III would spring into action.
“You can expect that we’re going to be very active again,” she said. “We’re going to require them to keep their promises to their community.
“The situation hasn’t changed at all. And Hafer Park is still one of the jewels of the community. And we’re going to protect it.”
In addition to the stores going in, plans show that a street light is planned to be put up on 15th Street at the entrance to the shopping center paid for by Sooner Investment.
Though the light may help people get into the center, some residents would like more traffic control.
Mertie VanDuyne lives on the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Bryant Avenue and said the possibility of a grocery store doesn’t concern her, but she did say another traffic light on Bryant would be good.
“There’s older people here,” she said. “And we do like to get out, but we can’t get out so we have to go back through the addition and go clear down to Ninth Street.”
She said when traffic is flowing, she often has to wait as much as 10 minutes to turn onto Bryant.
“If you had an emergency you couldn’t get out,” she said.
Just one block south on Briarwood Drive, Anthony Horn, a University of Central Oklahoma student, said he’s excited about the prospect of a grocery store.
“I think it’ll be good for us,” he said. “Growth is always good.”
He said he’s never had any problems turning onto Bryant because he has a traffic light that zips him right onto the road.
“I don’t know what it will be like when it changes, it could be bad, though,” he said.
Lee said she favors the green grass, the tall trees and the rolling hills in Edmond. The fact that the city is not a concrete jungle is what makes it special.
“We hope that Sooner Investment will step up to the plate and honor the vote from the community,” she said.
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