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Progress continues with Convergence development



Exciting progress continues in the Innovation District with this week’s groundbreaking of Convergence, the public-private, mixed-use development at NE Eighth Street and Stiles.

Convergence plans include a 230,000-square-foot, eight-story office building with 50,000 square feet of research labs. Oklahoma City biotech diagnostic firm Wheeler Labs will be the anchor tenant. An upscale 107-room hotel and restaurant will be the second phase of the project. The pedestrian-centric layout will surround an open-air community environment in the reimagined Stiles Park with a new, open-air amphitheater and green space. Even parking is thoughtfully designed, underground, to avoid disrupting the pedestrian-friendly gathering space and connectedness of the site.

The Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority last week approved a resolution to provide additional public assistance financing for the developer, BT Development LLC, led by Richard Tanenbaum, CEO of Gardner Tanenbaum Holdings, and Mark Beffort, CEO of Robinson Park Investments. The $18.75 million in public investment helps support the important first private development project in the Innovation District as a magnet for business attraction and additional development surrounding the MAPS 4 projects planned in the area and further enhances collaboration between industries, academia, business and public sectors.

The MAPS 4 Innovation Hall, a key component planned for the Innovation District, will be a central place where entrepreneurs, startups and business owners can find space, resources and connections to help grow Oklahoma City’s innovation economy. Innovation Hall will include conference rooms and coworking space along with educational programming and a cafe, to further encourage interaction, connections and education. The MAPS 4 projects in the Innovation District total $71 million. Some $15M is dedicated to the Henrietta B. Foster Center for Northeast Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, $25M will be allocated to connectivity in and around the Innovation District, $10M will be used to develop Innovation Hall and the remaining $21M will be used for repair and maintenance of the MAPS 4 facilities.

This coordinated public-private effort is how we will encourage collaboration among the research entities already located in the Innovation District, private businesses, the neighborhoods surrounding the district, our educational institutions and entrepreneurs.

We have made great strides to make our city a highly desirable place to live, and the Innovation District is poised to become one of the best innovation hubs and economic engines in the country.

Kenton Tsoodle is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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