South County Branding Effort, Sales ‘Phenomenal’

Despite a softening in the residential real estate market nationwide, the sales of new homes in southern Tulsa County remains strong, according to John Woolman, president of the John Woolman Group and one of five builders attempting to brand the southern part of the county as South County.
“I don’t recall any specific projections we had written down, but we have been very, very pleased with the results,” he said. “Considering the situation across the country, I don’t know if we could have been any more pleased.”
The one-year-old branding effort, the brainchild of Tulsa branding firm Littlefield Inc., 1350 S. Boulder Ave., was an almost instant success, according to Greg Simmons, president of Owasso-based Simmons Homes. “Our sales have been phenomenal, well above expectations,” Simmons said. “People get it. They are starting to remarket their homes by saying they are in South County.”
Other developers that have played a major role in the endeavor include Mike Wallace of the Wallace Cos.; Darril Jenkins of Fiddler’s Creek LLC and Vern Suess of West River Partners LLC.
Evidence of the branding success can already be seen at the southwest corner of 121st Street and U.S. 75, the site of a massive retail development.
“The site was originally planned as Southwest Crossroads,” said Woolman, “but the development is now known as The Shops at South County.”
Glenpool officials announced in late 2007 the first tenants of the development, which will be anchored by a 196,000-SF “green” Wal-Mart Supercenter and is being built by Edmond-based Tapp Development. Announced tenants also include a Santa Fe Cattle Co. and an 8,000-SF Hillcrest Utica Park. Two nationally branded hotels are also expected to build on development out parcels.
“I think the commercial development is coming along quite well,” said Woolman. “All the banks and retail are following the rooftops.”
“The guys wanting to build this Wal-Mart didn’t plan on building on this site,” he said, “but once they got up in a helicopter and saw all the homes, they made a move to buy the property.”
Woolman noted the recent sale of property at the corner of 121st Street and Peoria Ave. to Walgreens, which plans to begin immediately on the development of a store. Woolman’s development company is also building a small shopping center near the site.
Woolman and Simmons agreed that the draw to South County was the location, the availability of ; wide open; terrain and the amenities offered by the subdivisions in the area.
“The location is a huge draw,” Simmons said. “Its all new, new shopping, homes, roads and parks. It’s becoming the exciting part of town to be in. What we are seeing,” said Woolman, “is the people that wanted to build in south Tulsa, but couldn’t find a lot.”
The amenities, according to he said, include up to $1 million in walking trails, water parks, pools and clubhouses.
“We are finding that young couples are not in a position yet to join a country club, yet they want place to take their kids for a swim in the afternoon.”
Woolman estimates that South County is less than 25 percent developed, “I applaud that because it means we are not over developing.”
“We don’t want to end up in the same situation that Northwest Arkansas is, referring to the 10-year lot supply in Benton and Washington Counties, Arkansas. An 18-month lot supply is considered adequate.
“Tulsa is not over built,” he said. “We are not developing any more land or building any more houses than we have historically.”
Woolman points to the fact that March closings are expected to finish ahead of last years numbers.
“We were envious of the rest of the country when they were booming because we never had people buying a house and doubling their money in a year. Our game is a tortoise game, and if you are patient, Tulsa does well.”
“When you develop 40 acres at a time, it takes time,; Woolman said. ; We have plenty of room and plenty time to work with.”

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