NORMAN — Two projects at the University North Park shopping center are designed to attract businesses that fly a corporate jet — or those that build them.
Plans for an advanced manufacturing center and business park are moving along, said Don Wood, executive director of the Norman Economic Development Coalition. The unique projects will appeal to companies looking to be close to the Max Westheimer Airport, shops and restaurants.
Two 30-acre plots north of Rock Creek Road and east of 24th Avenue NW are being secured for the projects. The coalition will develop the infrastructure then sell the sites to individual companies for construction.
The office park will feature six office building sites situated around a pond, Wood said. Because the site is along the airport fence line, companies could have a hangar adjacent to their office building then fly in on a corporate jet and walk to their office.
“There's nothing like that in Oklahoma. We're hoping that's a niche market we can meet,” Wood said Wednesday during a presentation for the 35 South Project, a group of Norman-to-Oklahoma City commuters.
It will be marketed to companies looking for a regional headquarters and those in the insurance and financial services industries.
An aerospace company will be the first occupant of the manufacturing center, Wood said, bringing 400 new jobs to Norman. An official announcement is expected by the end of October.
Wood said the coalition has been designing and planning the project for three years. They've applied for a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and are expecting to be notified by Friday.
Retail thriving, too
Expanding University North Park beyond retail is perfect to attract those businesses, Wood added.
A new portion of the shopping center is getting ready to open on the east side of 24th Avenue NW; tenants include Starbucks, Chipotle, EarthFruits Yogurt, GNC and Weight Watchers, said Brad Goodwin, development partner with Sooner Investment Realty, which handles development of the center.
DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) and HomeGoods are planning new stores next to Academy Sports + Outdoors, he said. It will be the first Oklahoma store for HomeGoods, a furniture and home decor retailer owned by The TJX Companies, which also operates T.J. Maxx and Marshall's.
Two new hotels are in the works across from the Embassy Suites Norman Hotel & Conference Center, Goodwin said. One is Holiday Inn Express.
City crews also are completing street improvements that will pave the way for Legacy Park, a seven-acre park that is expected to be the focal point of the area.
Construction of the public park, which will feature a small, man-made lake, amphitheater, public art, walks and an area for restaurants around the lake, should begin early next year.
Coming to Norman
• DSW (University North Park)
• HomeGoods (University North Park)
• Starbucks (University North Park)
• Chipotle (University North Park)
• EarthFruits Yogurt (University North Park)
• White House Black Market (Brookhaven Village)
• Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers (corner of Main Street and 24th Avenue NW)