|Updated: 3/20 9:13 am
||Published: 3/19 7:44 pm
The sky in south Tulsa will soon look completely different.
On Tuesday afternoon, Creek Nation announced plans for a $250 million expansion at River Spirit Casino that includes a 22 story hotel tower. Much of the new construction would be branded as “Margaritaville Tulsa.”
Creek nation and city leaders are hoping this development is what convinces Tulsans to support votes that could help put water back in the Arkansas River.
The CEO of Margaritaville was all smiles about the soon to be member of the family in Tulsa.
“It’s nice that it’s on the water, albeit it’s not the widest stretch of water,” John Cohlan said.
That was a running joke all day long; a waterfront resort without the water.
“It’s almost mind boggling to me that the Creek Nation was able to pull off a major river development project without having water in the river,” Mike Neal, CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said.
It’s such a concern that the new resort had to take matters into their own hands.
“We are kind of hedging our bets. We’re doing a huge pool deck, we’re doing a beach bar, we’re kind of creating our own water feature along the river,” Pat Crofts, CEO of Creek Nation Casinos, said.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas River looked more like a sandbar and voters in Tulsa County don’t seem to care. Last year, Tulsans voted down Vision2 and the $71 million that would have been spent to put water in the river.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says until Tulsans vote to make the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of improvements to the Zink Dam and the construction of another dam the waterless river will have more punch line than shoreline.
“We’re always close, and it’s always hinged on certain things happening, and usually a vote, and unfortunately we haven’t had success there, we’ve come close several times,” Mayor Bartlett said.
For now, the water will have to wait.
“We’ll keep at it, keep it. Keep at it, we don’t want to quit, never ever,” Bartlett told FOX23.
Right now, there are no plans to put a ballot question on the November ballot about renovating and building new dams, but city leaders seemed very sure another Vision2-like proposal would be presented to voters and river improvements would be on the ballot.
The new River Spirit Casino expansion and Margaritaville hotel is expected to open in late 2014 or early 2015.