A Fargo, North Dakota-based retailer is mapping out plans to invest about $132 million into a destination sporting goods store it would build at Woodland Hills Mall.
Scheels, which counts aquariums, arcade games and an indoor Ferris wheel among its attractions, intends to raze the mall’s former Sears location and construct a 250,000-square-foot store that could open by the fall of 2024, said Casey Stowe, senior vice president of finance and real estate for PartnerTulsa, the city’s economic development organization.
“It’s a huge investment,” Stowe said. “We think it will not only lift up the mall but lift up the entire retail corridor by the traffic it will drive. … It’s a regional draw. We should be drawing from really the entire Green Country region.”
The company plans to employ 450-500 people, 40% of whom will be full-timers, Stowe said. Mall owner Simon Property Group is a leading partner on the project, which is contingent upon incentives that must be approved by the Tulsa City Council, a city official said.
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The City Council on Wednesday will consider a resolution declaring the intent to consider approval of a project plan and creation of a new sales tax increment financing district. The resolution will begin creating the legal framework to allow the city to capture a portion of the sales tax generated by the company for economic development.
“This is an incredible win for Tulsa, and I am very excited to have Scheels, a one-of-a-kind store, come to our city,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement. “When you think about the jobs this will create and the people who will be coming from all across the region to visit our city because of Scheels, it’s just an incredible testament to the teamwork that went into making this happen.
“I want to thank PartnerTulsa for helping Scheels find a way to expand their business into our state — and I want to thank Simon Property Group for their persistence in ensuring that whatever went into the former Sears space was something that would be a major win for Tulsa and for the 71st and Memorial area.”
Scheels, which is employee-owned, offers retail choices in hunting, fishing, camping, golfing, biking, men’s and women’s fashion, and team sports. Among the brands it carries are Nike, Under Armour, Yeti and Traeger. The Tulsa store would be the company’s first in Oklahoma and 34th nationally.
“I just think it’s an incredible opportunity for our region,” said City Councilor Lori Decter-Wright, who represents the district that includes Woodland Hills Mall. “I’m excited that they want to be in Oklahoma and they chose Tulsa for their first store.
“… It’s just going to be a great re-energizer for that corridor. Malls and retail, in general, have been on the decline and certainly with COVID and everyone going to more online (shopping), this is going to be the next revitalization to that area.”
Sears was among Woodland Hills’ anchor stores when the mall opened in 1976. Sears closed that location after filing bankruptcy in late 2018. The site’s current occupant, Overstock Furniture & Mattress, has posted signs that it is closing.
The proposed store would abut District 8, where Phil Lakin serves as city councilor.
“Scheels is a game-changing addition to Tulsa’s largest sales-tax-generating corridor,” he said by phone. “Financially, this investment will provide substantial revenue to support public safety and fix streets. Equally as important is the unique experience Scheels will bring to this area, which needs continual reinvestment so people from all across the region will want to visit to shop, eat and simply have fun.”