A project at the Million Building could bring a community courtyard, plus more retail and shopping options to downtown McAlester.

Community investors and representatives met this week to consider plans for potential tenants for an economic development project at the Million Building at the corner of Second Street and Chickasaw Avenue in McAlester.

McAlester Regional Health Center purchased the property through Million Building LLC in June with the original intent of turning the property into medical storage — but those plans evolved after officials said they realized the potential for economic development.

“McAlester Regional is not just about healthcare — we’re about the city of McAlester and Pittsburg County,” MRHC CEO David Keith said. “This is about economic development, it’s about driving the city forward.”

“We strongly believe this building is a big part of that and can be a tremendous catalyst for what the city is working towards,” MRHC Project Director Jeff Warmuth said.

Shawn Howard, vice president of support services and operations at MRHC, said the inspiration for the project came from community needs for preventative care, outpatient service facilities, and economic development in downtown McAlester.

He said administrators envision the project becoming like Tulsa’s Mother Road Market, which offers more than 20 different restaurant and retail concepts with an incubator element for eateries.

“That idea really went with our mission and vision of what we wanted to do here with retail healthcare — getting healthcare back in the community so it’s easy for patients, communities and families to use to help with prevention,” Howard said.

Lilly Architects was selected for the development of the Million Building site plan, which totals about 21,180 square feet with plans for an outdoor courtyard and fire pit area.

The Tulsa-based firm has worked on several projects, including Tulsa Artist Fellowship Studios, the Universal Ford Building, Prairie Brewpub, Lone Wolf Banh Mi, Ida Red General Store and Soda Fountain, Glacier Confection, Bull in the Alley, and more.

Lilly Architects also designed the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, which is expected to open next year in Tulsa, and partnered as the architect of record for the Bob Dylan Center expected to open in 2021.

Chris Lilly, who founded the firm in 2013, said he wants to help make the Million Building project a community asset.

“One of the most gratifying things that I can be doing is working on these older building and paying them respect and putting them back into use for the next 100 years of their life,” Lilly said.

Officials plan to bring a medical spa, featuring MRHC plastic surgeon John Tedesco, as an anchor for the Million Building site.

Plans for the medical spa call for two massage rooms, two exam rooms, a medical/laser room, a large waiting room and lounge in the 3,985-square-feet space.

MRHC will still use 2,175 square feet at the Million Building site for hospital storage, but plans call for four more tenants with an average of about 1,7000 square feet and at least one more for a 7,945-square-feet space.

Lilly presented the plan to weave the building’s history with more modern interior designs in the medical spa and other potential tenants.

The large tenant space could still have an large overhead door that opens to a planned courtyard with picnic tables, outdoor furniture, a communal fire pit and a covered performance stage.

Officials said they hope the courtyard would lend itself to bringing the community together and hosting events.

Attendees discussed several potential businesses to fill the openings — a pub, clothing stores, nutrition shops, healthy grocers, restaurants — and preferred local establishments.

Warmuth said the group wanted feedback from downtown investors before reaching out to potential tenants. Another meeting is expected in January to discuss further plans.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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