A groundbreaking ceremony is set for a planned retail center in McAlester.
The Shops at McAlester project planned for Fourteenth Street and U.S. Highway 69 in the city will be the site of a groundbreaking ceremony open to the public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 5.
"I'm really looking forward to finally being able to break ground on this project," McAlester Mayor John Browne said. "It's been a long road to get to where we are, but we're finally moving forward with it."
A project map shows 17 spaces available at the site, including a McAlester Regional Health Center urgent care facility. Businesses listed on the map include Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Ross, Rack Room Shoes, FFO Home Furniture, and Chick-fil-A. Hobby Lobby and Ross Dress For Less each signed a memorandum of lease in 2018 with the Shops at McAlester.
McAlester Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Krystal Bess said she believes the project will bring jobs and help the area grow.
"We treat all of our members equally and we're excited to have the shopping center coming here and for people to have more options to shop," Bess said. "We believe it'll be an economic driver and there will be more people coming to our town and we might even have more people stay so it's a good thing for our area."
Project developer Burk Collins, of the Burk Collins Company, told the News-Capital last week that he acquired the property for the selected site and earthwork could begin as soon as this week. Collins added that he anticipates closing on a construction loan within 30 days.
Collins told the News-Capital that he plans to bring in Burkes Outlet, Five Below and Starbucks to the center, in addition to some restaurants with which he still working.
Completion of the center is expected to take more than one year with building designs, building permits and construction to be done, Collins told the News-Capital.
"I want to thank Burk Collins for also sticking to this project to bring additional shopping and restaurant options to McAlester," Browne said. "We look forward to a long fruitful partnership with Mr. Collins and moving this project forward."
The mayor also thanked McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak and city of McAlester Economic Development Director Kirk Ridenour for their work on the project.
"Frankly it wouldn't have gotten this far without their drive and dedication to see this get completed," Browne said. "There were several times that it could've been given up on.
"The community has shown this is something they really want and the city worked really hard to get through the setbacks so we can get the Shops at McAlester opened by late 2020 or early 2021," Browne added.
The project came about through a Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district after the city of McAlester and Pittsburg County commissioners agreed to a deal in which Collins' company will receive the sales taxes collected at the site for five years or $5.5 million, whichever comes first, once the center opens.
Collins agreed to pay for construction costs upfront and to pay for a traffic light where Fourteenth Street intersects with the highway. City officials previously said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation approved the traffic light.