Tulsa, Okla., Mayor Dewey Bartlett said last week the city would provide $3 million of bond proceeds to build a downtown parking garage if the Legislature will approve a $42.5 million issue for a proposed cultural museum in the city.
The Oklahoma Popular Culture Museum, known as OK POP, would be built in downtown Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. The 90,000-square-foot museum would focus on the state’s contributions in music, film and television.
Bartlett said the city had the money available from a bond issue approved by voters in 2006. He proposed a five-story garage with 650 spaces.
“We believe in this project and we are prepared to do what we can locally to support the state in the important stewardship of our history, culture and heritage,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett said if legislators approve a $40 million bond issue for an Indian museum in Oklahoma, they would have to approve a similar measure for the Tulsa facility.
“I’m not being mean-spirited, but I do believe that it’s only fair,” he said. Bartlett said the Bank of Oklahoma will donate $2.5 million of land to the project, with another $1 million matching grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
A study of the proposal estimated annual attendance at 100,000, but Bartlett said the facility would attract more visitors than expected.
“We expect the number of visitors to be much larger for this world-class destination,” he said. “The investment made in this project will benefit our state and culture for generations into the future.”
Voters in May 2006 approved a 1% increase in the city’s sales tax. It will remain in place until it generates a total of $459.2 million.
Most of the capital projects financed with the additional revenues are on a pay-as-you-go basis, but the proposal included $73 million of revenue bonds.
Two Republican senators said last week there is little chance for passage of the bond issue for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. The measure, which is backed by Gov. Mary Fallin, is expected to be considered by the Senate this week.
Sens. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, and Cliff Aldridge, R-Midwest City, said there are 30 votes in the 48-member Senate against the measure, and only 12 for. Anderson and Aldridge said the state should turn the project over to the city.
The museum was estimated at $100 million when it was proposed in 1990. It is now expected to cost $170 million. The Legislature authorized a $33 million bond issue for the museum in 2005 and a $25 million issue in 2008. Debt service on the outstanding bonds totals $5.5 million a year.
The state also allocated $6 million in federal stimulus funds to the project in 2010.