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OKC Board Approves Innovation Hall Deal


The location of the future Innovation Hall – one of the city’s MAPS 4 projects – can be seen in this map of the Convergence development in northeast Oklahoma City. (Courtesy of Oklahoma City)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Construction is set to begin this spring on a MAPS 4 project that is expected to create jobs and encourage greater diversification in the local economy.

The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved a Master Development Agreement with the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority and BT Development LLC for the construction and development of MAPS 4 Innovation Hall.

Activities at the Innovation Hall could include learning academies like coding training for all ages; multipurpose space for meetings and events related to innovation and entrepreneurship; and pop-up spaces for entrepreneurs to pitch new ideas and make connections.

It will be part of the Convergence development – ​​a joint venture of Robinson Park and Gardner Tanenbaum – in the heart of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District. The 2.7-acre site sits between the University of Oklahoma Research Park and Oklahoma State University’s Hamm Institute for American Energy.

“It’s really about connecting universities together and providing a place where universities will work together to provide new innovation and new job opportunities for all Oklahomans,” said Mark Beffort of Robinson Park.

The $177.5 million Convergence development includes more than $10 million for the construction of Innovation Hall.

The development also includes an office tower with 50,000 square feet of laboratory space and underground parking, a full-service hotel and public space that includes the Beacon of Hope monument.

Cathy O’Connor of the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority said the agreement approved Tuesday outlines a way to provide $10 million in MAPS 4 funds for this project.

“Innovation Hall was always intended to be a private-public partnership built with $10 million from MAPS to match $10 million from non-MAPS sources,” O’Connor said.

Mayor David Holt said the $10 million match was pushed through the council and the MAPS 4 development process.

“Our hope was to obviously make $10 million out of it and we get a $180 million project, so I think it’s money well spent,” Holt said.

The developer’s $10 million will go toward the cost of land, infrastructure, parking — 90 spaces in the parking garage will be dedicated to the Innovation Hall — architectural and engineering services and more, a said O’Connor.

The aim is to have the groundbreaking in April and the grand opening 24 months later in March 2024.

“This project will go into construction at the same time – so the hotel, the office, the lab space, all the public realm improvements will happen at the same time,” she said.

The city has approved the concept design for the Innovation Hall. The developer will construct, operate and maintain the facility and convey title to the area of ​​the land where the hall is built to the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority.

“When we talk about operating Innovation Hall, we’re talking about the physical building, not the operator who will provide the services and programming that the city will fund through MAPS 4,” O’Connor said.

This operator is selected through a separate process already underway, she said.

“It’s a big business,” Councilman David Greenwell said of the entire Convergence project. “It’s going to be a big part of Oklahoma City for easily the next 50, maybe even the next 100 years. It’s a really big deal.