Jenks Opens Gates to Flood of Development
The city of Jenks, merely a railroad way station 110 years ago, has become an enticing location for new businesses and attractions.
West Main Street, two miles from the Tulsa Hills shopping district, is located off U.S. 75 in Jenks and is currently transforming with two massive construction projects leading the way for future development.
Kevin Stitt has given the area his own district title: “The Gateway District.”
Stitt, CEO and founder of Gateway Mortgage, believed the area appealing enough to construct his company’s headquarters on the southwest corner of the highway and Main Street. In 2000, he established the then-small private mortgage brokerage in Tulsa.
Currently, the company has locations in 23 states and handles more than $2 billion in mortgages.
Stitt said the move to Jenks was based not just on a great location, but wonderful people and nearby restaurants and shopping.
And Gateway’s headquarters isn’t Stitt’s only plan.
“The plan is to build an 86,000-square-foot office building where we will occupy 50 percent and lease out the other 50 percent. We have 13 acres of additional pad sites available for restaurants, office use, medical office and retail.”
Josh Driskall, Jenks Chamber of Commerce president, said he “couldn’t overstate the importance of infrastructure as the city of Jenks moves forward on road construction projects made possible by Jenks voters passing the road and sewer bond package in late 2013. These projects will not only make it easier for people to get to and from home and work, but will also set the stage for businesses to locate here in our community.”
Stitt agreed and said the upcoming changes, like adding lanes to Main Street, will allow 96th Street to be a “Gateway into Jenks” — the reason he said the location is being dubbed The Gateway District.
With the relocation, Stitt said approximately 150 employees with Gateway Mortgage will transfer, but he does anticipate around 100 more employees will occupy the leased office spaces.
With an estimated date of completion in June 2016, Stitt said it “should be a great addition to the Jenks business community.”
Another major construction effort can be seen on the north side of Main Street and U.S. 75 as Core Surgical Hospital is beginning to take shape. The facility is under the management of the Castle Development Group, but the client remains anonymous. The 50,000-square-foot hospital will operate with state-of-the-art equipment, technology and practices. Next to the hospital, a 20,000-square-foot physicians building is also being constructed.
“The city of Jenks has been impatiently waiting its turn as areas along the Highway 75 corridor began to develop,” said Jenks city planner Robert Bell.
“The Core Surgical Hospital was the first corporate entity to recognize that the area of West Main in Jenks was prime for commercial growth. Gateway Mortgage has followed.”
Bell said more dining, hotel and retail establishments will need to be developed to meet the needs of the growing district.
On East Main Street in Jenks, the tourism and entertainment industries are seeing noteworthy investments to improve the Oklahoma Aquarium and Riverwalk Crossing.
“The recently announced $22 million entertainment facility at RiverWalk Crossing is the tip of the iceberg there,” Driskall said. He is expecting more announcements throughout the year to revitalize the RiverWalk area.
“The RiverWalk had so much promise, providing the atmosphere and activities that the citizens of the Tulsa Metro were looking for along the Arkansas River,” Bell said. “The economic downturn of 2008 proved too much for the owners of the center.”
But after the purchase of RiverWalk Crossing by the Creek Nation and the recently announced investments in entertainment, Bell confirmed Driskall’s anticipation and said interest has already sparked with additional restaurants and users of the facility.
“This is good for not only Jenks but also sets the stage for the continued development of a tourism market in the region,” Bell said.
The Oklahoma Aquarium also announced, due to a Vision 2025 surplus allotment, that a long-awaited sea turtle exhibit will come to fruition, attracting more visitors to the area.
Driskall sees the developing East Main Street as a benefit to other local businesses as well as bringing more customers to shops and restaurants.
“2015 will be a banner year for the Jenks community,” he said.
By BRITT GREENWOOD Tulsa World Correspondent