Owasso’s Explosive Growth

From a quiet town of 11,151 inhabitants in 1990 to a bustling and expanding city of more than 33,000 today, Owasso is, year in and year out, one of the fastest growing cities in Oklahoma.
A soaring population and an explosive real estate market are trends that are likely to continue, according to Chip McCulley, the Owasso city planner.
“I don’t see any immediate slowdown in the growth of Owasso,” he said. “There is still a lot of vacant land within the fence line. I realize that growth is market driven, but I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.”
“Five years from now,” he said, “I can see 60,000 people living within Owasso city limits.”
An aerial view of Owasso shows a city resembling a checkerboard; one scattered with parcels of unincorporated land that are considered within the city’s “fence line,” but not within the city limit, with the majority of unincorporated land consisting of idle pastureland, private homesteads and agricultural land.
“Most of the unincorporated land is in one- to five-acre tracts,” he said. “Little ranchettes.”
A larger city limit with fewer unabsorbed tracts within the Owasso fence line is something the city anticipates, McCulley said.
“The city can forcibly annex property and there are a number of ways we can do it,” he said. “For instance, if the land is surrounded on all four sides by property that is considered within the city limits, the city can take it in, but we rarely, if ever, do that.”
“Right now it is by request only, but there are quite a few requests.”
McCulley said the amenities provided to private landowners are another reason the city is expected to grow both its population and city limits in coming years.
“Most people look at it and ask ‘What does annexation do for me?’ and for the most part, the answer is water, sewer, police and fire protection.”
“The downfall of being annexed? Landowners can’t have pigs, shoot guns, burn their trash or shoot fireworks.”
Striving for Sustainability
McCulley said planning a growing city is difficult and that the city’s current challenge is managing explosive growth.
“We strive for sustainable growth,” he said. “Something we can plan for and something we can control and our infrastructure can keep up with.”
“It gets tough to try to estimate how many people will be living within the fence line five years from now. It’s hard to tell how much of the fence line will be within the city limits.”
Since 1993 the city of Owasso has seen 5,087 residential housing starts with the numbers topping 500 yearly starts in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Since 1999, however, the city has seen the value of those permits skyrocket, with 2006 boasting a record $62.7 million in housing permits issued, up sharply from $41 million in 1999.
“We try to keep a mix of homes under development to help with the sustainable growth,” McCulley said. “The key is to keep a healthy supply of homes, from starter and mid-level to executive homes, for sale.”
Owasso has 380 undeveloped residential lots within city limits and several hundred more on the horizon.
“We have a lot of executive developments just outside the fence line, and a couple more coming online this year.”
Among the residential developments coming “online” this year is the 2,600-acre Stone Canyon development three miles east of U.S. 169, just outside of the Owasso fence line.
Stone Canyon, which is slated for development over a 15-year period, will include 640 acres of common public area, including an 80-acre lake.
Morrow Place, a 240-acre, master-planned, mixed-use community on Owasso’s Morrow Farm will also break ground in 2007. The Owasso Land Trust is the developer of the property, which will include 80 acres of commercial development among 160 acres of single-family homes.
The next calendar year will also see the first residents moving into the Lakes at Bailey Ranch, a 222-acre, mixed-use, planned-unit development between 96th and 106th Streets and Mingo and Garnett Roads, just north of the Bailey Ranch Golf Course. When fully developed, the community will include 155 single-family and 590 multi-family homes on 222 acres.
Facing a Development Frenzy
A review of commercial building permits for Owasso shows a boom in commercial real estate that started, in earnest, in 1993. Since then, 369 developments of varying size and potential economic impact have broken ground. The explosion of commercial building, coupled with a persistent drive in residential development, has led to a spike in the city’s economy that rendered a record taxable sales figure of $486.7 million in 2006.
The recent development frenzy that radically transformed the area immediately adjacent to U.S. 169 has recently seen the erection of the 600,000-SF Smith Farm Marketplace, 520,000-SF Wal-Mart-anchored Owasso Market and the 80,000-SF Tyann Plaza. All are located between 86th and 96th Streets on opposite sides of the U.S. 169.
No Rooms in the Inns
In addition to retail space, Owasso is seeing the development of three hotels – an $8.5 million Hampton Inn & Suites at 9009 N. 121st East Ave., a $6.85 million extended-stay TownePlace Suites by Marriott at 9400 N. Owasso Expressway and a Candlewood Suites.
“The hotels are needed badly. We have people coming in to work in Owasso, and we have to house them in Tulsa. Even on a Wednesday night, the middle of the week,” he said, “there are no rooms available in Owasso.”
Like many other cities experiencing a growth in residential and commercial development, the Owasso is making a concerted effort to resurrect a neglected downtown.
“We would like to encourage private development in downtown and we are stepping up, spending almost $2 million dollars.” ?

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