Project to Reimagine the Center of the Universe Commences with New Public-Private Partnership
Downtown Tulsa, OK (January 31, 2022) – Downtown Tulsa Partnership and the City of Tulsa have announced a new project to Reimagine the Center of the Universe. In a public-private partnership, the entities will kick off planning and design for an expected $7.65M structural repair and renovation project to the Boston Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and Center of the Universe Plaza.
Opened in the early 1980’s, the Boston Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, otherwise known as the Center of the Universe, is an important civic-space and first-day visitor destination in the heart of Downtown Tulsa. It serves as a passageway to hundreds of employees each day and as a gathering place and destination for residents and visitors.
Downtown Tulsa Partnership will commence a community engagement and planning process for the reimagined plaza including new pathways, lighting, landscaping, public art and other amenities. The Partnership will present the City with a conceptual design report by June 2022 in order to complete final design and engineering work. Construction will commence later in 2022. Upon completion, Downtown Tulsa Partnership will take an active role in maintaining and activating the public space.
“No matter the purpose for visiting this space, be it a walk to the office or a place to take visiting friends, the Center of the Universe is a must-see attraction that no longer lives up to expectations,” said Brian Kurtz, president and CEO of Downtown Tulsa Partnership. “This effort to Reimagine the Center of the Universe will result in an iconic gathering place that Downtown needs and deserves. On behalf of the Downtown Tulsa Partnership, I extend immense gratitude to the City of Tulsa for identifying the necessary funds to move this project forward and to our private funding partners for sharing a vision of a vibrant public space.”
Initially conceived as a plaza renovation project in December 2019, efforts were paused at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic before restarting in 2021. Last spring, the City commissioned a structural survey to determine the viability of making surface improvements and to understand the bridge structure’s remaining lifespan. This survey determined the bridge needs more than $4M in repairs before improvements can be made to the plaza.
“The Center of the Universe has become a Tulsa landmark over the years, and improvements are on the way to renovate this downtown destination,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “As we work through the process of renovating the Center of the Universe, it’s important we hear from residents on what kind of space we want to leave for the next generation.”
The City of Tulsa has identified funding to support the critical repairs to the bridge structure, as well as partial funding for the plaza renovation. Downtown Tulsa Partnership is partway through a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $2M for the plaza renovation project and a maintenance reserve fund to ensure proper capital maintenance of the public space moving forward.
Tulsans can submit their favorite pictures and memories from the Center of the Universe and ideas for improvements or future uses they would like to see at downtowntulsaok.com/recentertheuniverse. Further engagement and input opportunities will be made public in the coming weeks.