Jenks lures investment with business-friendly attitude
A rendering of the new headquarters under construction by Gateway Mortgage Group in Jenks. The building is hoped to be the first in the Gateway District, which would include a hotel, restaurants and shopping. Courtesy
JENKS — Breaking ground this year along the Creek Turnpike, a new premium outlet mall is soaking up a lot of media attention when it comes to economic development in Jenks. And no doubt, local officials are very excited about it.
But they’re almost equally excited about the new FlyingTee Entertainment and Golf Complex, which might not be generating as much news coverage but promises to lure a lot of visitors to Jenks when it opens later this year.
With a three-story $22 million building under construction, the FlyingTee will be the anchor for a rejuvenated RiverWalk, a retail and entertainment complex on the west bank of the Arkansas. In addition to a state-of-the-art driving range, the FlyingTee will include family-oriented games, restaurants, a sports bar and space for parties and corporate events.
“It’s going to have a great effect,” said Josh Driskell, president of the Jenks Chamber of Commerce. “It’s going to pull a lot of people into the area.”
Opening in April, the FlyingTee will use cutting-edge technology to track the golf balls hit by every guest, regardless of skill level.
Developers considered several locations across the Tulsa area before deciding on the Jenks riverfront, said James Vollbrecht, director of technology for the FlyingTee. Drawn partly by the location itself — with its scenic view of the downtown Tulsa skyline in the distance, and favorable demographics within an easy driving distance — investors were also impressed by the community’s business-friendly attitude.
“Let’s just say that not all towns are equally easy to deal with,” Vollbrecht said. “Jenks has helped everything go very smoothly.”
Simon Premium Outlets will bring as many as 90 new retailers to Jenks’ River District, where a 2013 bond issue is helping fund $18 million in road improvements. Both the mall and FlyingTee will generate a lot of traffic to downtown businesses, which are already benefiting from a renewed appreciation for Jenks’ historic central district. Retail space has near zero vacancies.
In another major economic development, Gateway Mortgage Group is building a four-story, 85,000-square-foot corporate headquarters at the southeast corner of U.S. 75 and West Main Street. That would represent a significant economic boost itself, but Gateway will occupy only half the space while offering the rest for lease, plus 14 adjacent acres are being actively marketed for development. The city hopes to attract restaurants, offices and retail tenants as well as possibly a hotel, creating an all-new Gateway District on the west side of Jenks.
Meanwhile, a parking lot near downtown will turn into a park that will be similar to downtown Tulsa’s Guthrie Green. Located across from Jenks High School, the new park will include a large lawn, a stage to host events, bike racks and public restrooms. And the city is about to begin a major construction project that will widen Main Street between Elm Avenue and U.S. 75 to improve traffic flow into downtown.
“Roads projects aren’t the funnest thing in the world,” Driskell said. “But this is going to be great for us.”