The estimated $6 million park, expected to be ringed with restaurants, will bring a different park concept to west Norman, which is dotted with small community parks that usually feature playgrounds.
“This is not a typical park site,” said Jud Foster, Norman director of parks and recreation. “It’s an urban park, with an amphitheater, walkways, places for public art — more of a gathering place.”
Scott Howard and Scott Fairbairn, of Howard Fairbairn Site Design of Oklahoma City, designed the seven-acre park. Bids were accepted last week, with a $5.1 million estimated base bid and 13 add-on alternates to include amenities such as fountains and additional lighting.
Norman assistant city attorney Kathryn Walker, who has worked with the University North Park Tax Increment Financing (UNP TIF) district since its inception, said some savings resulted from changes to the original plan. That might allow for some leeway for further modifications.
“If [City] Council wanted to fund some additional add-ons, they might be able to find some extra funds,” Walker said.
Construction is expected to take about 14 months, with the park projected to open in the spring of 2014.
Bids to build the park were taken about two years ago, but the University North Park developers never deeded the promised acreage to the city. The project was put on hold until that occurred at the Oct. 23 city council meeting.
While there may have been increases on the costs of some construction materials, Foster said, there have been decreases in others.
“I think it’s a good time in terms of contractors looking for work,” he said.
The development drew controversy in 2006 when the city passed the $54.7 million UNP TIF district, then the largest such district in the state. Half of the sales tax from the district was dedicated to development of infrastructure, Legacy Park, a lifestyle center, conference center and economic development, with the balance going into the city’s general fund.
The $15 million conference center was taken on by the Embassy Suites Hotel so that the city could participate in building the Rock Creek Road overpass over Interstate 35.
The original project plan for the UNP TIF had $7.5 million allocated for Legacy Park, plus a contingency fund. With expenditures for public art and landscaping, the total was projected to be about $8.25 million.
The Norman Economic Development Coalition also has purchased a 30-acre tract on the north end of the development for a business park.