June 30, 2023

Community Partner Profile: How NOMA is Creating Community Along the Mother Road

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Opening later this year, NOMA is a new residential hub taking shape at the heart of the newly rebranded Tulsa Market District, which is located along Route 66 from Peoria to Harvard. Featuring 256 housing units, a centralized location, co-working space and a large outdoor neighborhood gathering space, NOMA will create a flagship neighborhood hub focused on walkability and community engagement in the growing neighborhood. We connected with Chris Ellison, the project’s developer, to learn more about this housing project and why he sees so much potential for the area.

Q: Route 66 is a worldwide destination and is an important part of Tulsa’s history. There have been a lot of efforts to continue to revitalize the area. How will NOMA help enhance the area for visitors and Tulsans?

 The intent behind NOMA is to create a dense residential hub at the heart of the newly rebranded Tulsa Market District.  I wanted to help bring residents into the district and within a centralized location developed to operate as a truly walkable community with restaurants, grocery and retail right out of the front door.  With the addition of NOMA, the district will continue to build around this residential hub to serve these new residents, the existing district residents and the visitors they attract.  Residents can venture out within their community, enjoy the surrounding businesses, attend school within the district, work within the district and fill the public spaces.  The new life being infused into the area will continue to help with efforts to occupy vacant spaces, revitalize vacant buildings, and increase the quality of life in the district for residents and the quality of the experience for visitors. 

Q: NOMA will add more than 200 residential units to the Tulsa Market District, joining several new commercial offerings in the area. How do you see NOMA fitting into the fabric of this growing neighborhood?

 NOMA is offering 256 apartment units that include 1, 2 and 3-bedrooms, with a variety of floor plans including a few 2-story apartments.  Being such an urban core site situated so close to so many of Tulsa’s major employment centers, as well as the University of Tulsa and Kendall Whittier School District, the apartment unit mix was intentionally created to serve the surrounding community and to provide access to this neighborhood through diversity in living arrangement options with a range of rental rates. 

 To supplement NOMA’s place in the community, this project was also designed with a large outdoor neighborhood gathering space at the front of the development.  This gathering space is open and created for the purpose of inviting the neighborhood within the borders of the development, as well as providing much needed trees, plantings, and other green space to the area. 

 Another unique aspect of this project is that it was built without tearing down other housing.  No single-family housing or other, older, apartment buildings were harmed in the making of NOMA.  Prior to this project breaking ground, this site was a vast, 4-acre, busted and dangerously unlevel concrete parking lot that blighted the neighborhood. 

Q: What amenity in your development are you most excited about?

 I designed NOMA during the COVID-19 pandemic lock downs, so at the time, a major focus was to create a multitude of spaces indoor and outdoor within the development for people to spread out, either for virtual work or just to have their own space.  NOMA has exactly that, all sorts of intimate spaces within other spaces – inside and outside – created through walls or curated furniture placement so that tenants can feel at home and have their own zone even outside of their apartments. 

 Also, as a byproduct of the work-from-home culture, I am really excited about the resident co-working space.  This space has really come together during construction and includes separate booths for group meetings, phone booths for more private virtual meetings, a large shared access table with multiple plugs, and phenomenal natural light.  This area was designed for WiFi and ethernet plug internet access and has shared access network printing.  It is a nice feature for those of us that can work wherever our laptop sits.  Oh, and the fitness center is just around the corner if a resident needs to run off any anxiety or throw some weights around in between meetings.     

Q: The primary goal of NOMA is to create a flagship neighborhood hub focused on walkability and community engagement. Why is community building so important to your work?

 For this particular project, community building has been so important because the goal isn’t to just build an apartment that operates like an island where apartment residents drive/bike in and drive/bike out with no connection to the neighborhood.  NOMA is one piece to a much fuller district; a district aimed at being truly walkable and creating spaces for engagement between residents.  To incentivize people to explore their neighborhood, there needs to be more than just residential spaces. There needs to be a reason to walk about, places to interact, and then there needs to be actual access.   So we need vacant buildings to become something more, such as retail, restaurants, grocery, and other service businesses in close proximity. We need quick public transportation to supplement and connect areas further away inside the district, and we need improvement and beautification of the public spaces, like adequate and consistent sidewalks, ample lighting, trees and other green areas, and good signage.  We also need safety and security.  All of this is currently happening in the Tulsa Market District and, as stated above, NOMA is just one part of it.  There is so much potential here.    

 My team has put the work in from the day ground was broken, and we strive to be ready for initial apartment occupancy by early October 2023.