Sharon King Davis and Terry L. King have a vision for Tulsa.
King and King Davis are both sisters and equal business partners. King Investments, a construction and development company owned by the sisters since 1993, has developed numerous properties in Tulsa, most notably the KingsPointe Village retail shopping center on the northwest corner of 61st Street and Yale Avenue. Touted as the “New Center of Tulsa,” the 117,000-SF development accommodates 34 tenants, including Pei Wei Asian Diner, McGill’s Restaurant and Abruzzi Italian Restaurant. The shopping center enjoys high traffic, and King Davis said tenants’ profits have continued to increase since the development’s completion in 2004.
Currently, King Investments is at work on King’s Landing, another retail shopping center on the waterfront of the Arkansas River at 9901 S. Delaware Road. Construction is about 60 percent complete. Tenants will include Kohl’s, The Home Depot, and Starbuck’s, King Davis said.
“We’ve had a very good response about it. We’re excited,” King Davis said.
“Tulsa’s excited about it,” King added.
Sharon King Davis is the president of the Tulsa Historical Society, chairs the Oklahoma Centennial Kickoff and is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma. She made the Urban Tulsa’s Top 100 Movers-and-Shakers list multiple times, and she won the Urban Tulsa’s 2001 award for Most Civic-Minded Developer.
Why such love for Tulsa?
“We operate with passion,” King Davis said. “We have one of the most beautiful downtowns, and we have a beautiful skyline. We need to make this city healthy, and having a healthy downtown is a good thing.”
Rooted in Tulsa
The King sisters are fourth generation Tulsans. Their father, Tulsa developer Raymond L. King, made the family’s start in the local construction and development industries in the mid-1950s. The King sisters were involved in the business at the outset.
“He was very inclusive,” King said. “Any new venture he would go into he would always show us, and we would meet the people and he would tell us about it.”
Raymond King started as a homebuilder. The King sisters, then young girls, would write their initials in the wet cement of sidewalks in front of their father’s projects. This tradition continues: the letters SKD are etched in the sidewalk of the King Investments office.
The King sisters said their father was their greatest role model. Their family history, however, is rife with past Tulsa movers and shakers. The King sisters’ grandfather, Sam Avey, owned the Tulsa Coliseum, the sports and community center for Tulsa from 1926 to 1952. He brought sports to Tulsa: wrestling and boxing matches, and the first professional football and hockey teams.
Avey advocated for Tulsans. He coordinated promotional events at the coliseum to raise money for children’s organizations, including the Baby’s Milk Fund, now part of Emergency Infant Services.
Avey hosted large Christmas parties at the coliseum to which King and King Davis say all Tulsa children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, were welcome. King Davis has vivid memories of these parties, as well as the promotional events that benefited the Baby’s Milk Fund.
“There’s a picture of me sitting in a child’s rocker, and I’m holding a great big glass milk bottle and my baby doll,” King Davis said. “A year later, it was a milk bottle and Terry I was holding in that picture.”
“We were a part of the community and a part of helping Tulsa all our lives,” she said.
As chair of the Oklahoma Centennial kickoff, King Davis will help unearth a time capsule buried in downtown Tulsa during June of 1957. According to BuriedCar.com, items in the time capsule include aerial maps of Tulsa circa 1957, flags flown over the city and county of Tulsa and statements of former Tulsa mayors. The most significant item in the time capsule, however, is a gold and white 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe.
King Davis learned how to unearth the capsule by reviewing documents and newsletters from the 1957 Tulsa Metro Chamber. During her research, she came across a photo of the committee that buried the time capsule.
“I turn the page and there’s a picture of the committee to bury the car, and there stands our grandfather right there in front,” King Davis said. “He was part of the committee that buried the car, and I didn’t know that.”
King didn’t know their grandfather had been a member of the committee, either. Their grandfather buried the time capsule, King said, “so 50 years later, she’s (King Davis) digging it up!”
The King sisters say they are blessed often with this sort of discovery.
King and King Davis once attempted to change the zoning on a property they wished to develop in a residential area. The sisters ordered the restrictive covenants and discovered that the change they desired to make to the property was prohibited. Then they discovered who was responsible: their father, Raymond L. King.
“He developed the subdivision and made up the covenants, and we were going, well, we can’t change it – Dad says we can’t!” King said.
The King sisters said they and King Investments will continue the family tradition and advocate for Tulsa.
“It’s just something that you do. If you’re in any community, you try and make it better,” King Davis said.
Heiresses Mean Business
The edge the King sisters have in the construction and development business is undeniably their heritage in Tulsa.
King Davis has a degree in business, and Davis studied marketing. Though the sisters earned college degrees, they acquired their business skills when they accompanied their father on business trips and to job sites.
The King sisters’ mother also contributed to their educations.
“Our mother is probably the best shopper in the world,” King Davis said. “Between what Dad gave us with our business knowledge about construction and with Mother’s great gift of shopping, we are in the perfect business, which is retail shopping centers.”
Raymond King was killed in a car wreck in 1984.
“It was always our hope that we would work with him,” King Davis said. “He was killed on a Friday, and we had the funeral on Monday. On Tuesday, we were sitting in his office going, ‘This isn’t the way this was supposed to happen.’”
After the probate of their father’s estate, the King sisters went into business together in 1993.
“It was a non-decision for Sharon and I,” Davis said. “We wanted to continue with what Dad was doing, and also put our own stamp on construction and on something for Tulsa.”
The King sisters and their families often vacation together at their property in Mt. Crested Butte, Colo. The 5,000-SF house is the sisters’ favorite vacation retreat.
“Some of the most peaceful travel that I’ve ever done is being in those hills and valleys around Crested Butte,” King Davis said.
The house in Mt. Crested Butte is not only a vacation home; it’s also property managed by King Investments. The five-bedroom house, which has been owned by the King family for 25 years, accommodates 8 to 10 adults and rents at $610 per night during most of the year.
Does King Investments plan to acquire more property in Colorado?
“We looked around, but we just really like where we are,” King Davis said.
King Investments builds upscale lifestyle accommodations and shopping centers in small- and medium-sized cities. With the 43,671-SF King’s Landing development near completion, Tulsa will have a new shopping and dining venue on the Arkansas River waterfront.
“When we saw the property, we saw the potential not only for our family but for Tulsa, too. We felt it was a very good investment for Tulsa, because we (Tulsa) had not had a retail development on the Tulsa side of the river.”
So where are the local construction and development industries headed? King and King Davis agree that developing the properties along the Arkansas River is a significant economic opportunity for Tulsa. The King sisters share a vision for downtown, too.
“I think Tulsa is right on the edge for great infill toward the center of the city,” King Davis said. “Downtown, I think, must be developed because it is the heart of any city.”
As for exactly when and where the King sisters plan to be involved in the development of downtown, King laughingly said, “We don’t want to tell, because then all the good property will be gone.” ?