Drone shops 1

DERRICK JAMES | Staff photo

An aerial view of the Shops at McAlester shopping center.

Visitors continue pouring in to the Shops at McAlester, showing our community’s growth potential and soaring momentum.

City of McAlester Economic Developer Adam White told us the Shops at McAlester drew close to a half-million visits over a three-month period, including some repeat visitors, but that’s still a ton of people coming to our community.

“We had over 454,000 visits from just under 150,000 people to the Shops from October 1 to December 30,” White told us.

He told us 54% of the visitors come from outside the McAlester area — capitalizing on the Texas-Arkansas-Missouri traffic that has historically driven past our community.

McAlester Mayor John Browne said research shows the Shops at McAlester is drawing from corridors initially projected during the planning process and some local shoppers are return visitors.

Like we’ve said from the beginning, this is a good thing for our community.

Shops at McAlester came about through a Tax Increment Financing, or TIF agreement, involving the city of McAlester, Pittsburg County and developer, Burk Collins & Company.

Through the TIF agreement, Burk Collins and Company agreed to develop and construct the shopping center and pay for an adjacent traffic signal. In return, the TIF agreement calls for Burk Collins & Co. to receive 90% percent of the city and county sales tax generated at Shops at McAlester for five years or until Collins receives $5.5 million, whichever comes first.

Starbucks became the first shop to open at the site last March, followed by Burke’s Outlet, Hobby Lobby, T.J.Maxx, Ross, Rack Room Shoes and Five Below. Jiffy Lube opened its Shops at McAlester site in November.

White said Ollie’s “should be open in from six-to-eight weeks,” T-Mobile should be open by spring, and Burger King is projected to open in 2023 at the site.

We said early on that if it works as designed, it would immediately improve the quality of life with more accessibility to — and options for — food, goods and jobs.

Not only will the project allow McAlester to compete with Muskogee and Durant as locals stay here to shop and dine more often — it will help limit our trips to Tulsa or Oklahoma City, or even out of state to Fort Smith, Arkansas or the DFW Metroplex.

New businesses will improve the job market, give shoppers more options and keep sales tax dollars in McAlester and Pittsburg County.

But it’s not all about money. The site has the potential to add structure and help McAlester flourish into a community in which children will want to grow up and stay to continue that growth.

Initial reports indicate that is all coming to fruition.

But we have to capitalize on the momentum.

Our community has so many good things happening right and we must continue working toward growth.

McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board

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