OKLAHOMA CITY – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby today unveiled plans for a large resort-style property to be adjacent to the newly opened First Americans Museum. Located on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City, OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark will be an over $ 300 million tourist destination set to continue the momentum of Oklahoma City’s economic development.
“Strong partnerships and diligent efforts among city and state officials as well as private institutions were an integral part of the launch of the First Americans Museum,” said Governor Anoatubby. “With this world-class First Americans Museum now operational, we are ready to shift our focus to yet another major tourism and hospitality venue. It is our vision that the OKANA Resort will be the experience for visitors not only from our region, but across North America and around the world.
“OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark was designed to complement the First Americans Museum’s focus on cultural experiences and connect visitors to other entertainment experiences along this established and vibrant part of the Oklahoma River.”
Announced plans detail the first phase of the project, which will develop approximately 40 acres of the 140 acres held by AICCM Land Development, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chickasaw Nation.
The resort hotel will feature an 11 story 404 room property offering guests luxury accommodations, river and lagoon views, and proximity to the heart of Oklahoma City and the Boathouse District. In the middle of the property is a 5 acre outdoor adventure lagoon for relaxing and playing, which consists of a main body of water and two smaller bodies of water – all lined with sandy beaches. A footbridge will span the main body of water so guests can easily move around the property. The resort will also include a 33,000-square-foot family entertainment center, over 100,000-square-foot indoor water park, 39,000-square-foot conference center space, a spa and golf simulator, and several retail stores and restaurants.
Chickasaw Nation’s Secretary of Commerce Bill Lance said collaboration between local and state governments and business leaders has made this type of investment possible.
“There is no doubt that an entertainment and lodging complex on this scale will be a major contributor to the exciting advances in Oklahoma City. The resort is expected to initially employ 400 people and the annualized economic impact for the first year is estimated at $ 97 million. In addition, estimates of the 10-year economic impact of this development are projected to exceed $ 1 billion, with full-time employment rising to around 700 to 800. ”
The development will also include a Native American Market and an amphitheater. The market offers First American artists a space to display works of art or other creations. The amphitheater and the outdoor lawn can accommodate around 1,500 people. These venues are designed to complement the museum’s program with local artist performances, festivals, lectures, and similar events.
Lance noted that a new Oklahoma River Cruises ferry dock, funded by a $ 4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, could easily connect the development to the Boathouse District. Additional access to the area will be possible through the system of paths from both the north and the south. Because the property is right on the Oklahoma River, visitors have a front row seat on the start line of the US Rowing National High Performance Center’s 2,000-meter course.
Wynne / Jackson, a Dallas-based real estate development company, assisted with development design for the entire project. The New York-based Aquatic Development Group is the hotel developer, while the Wisconsin-based ADCI is the hotel and water park architect. Benchmark Hospitality will operate the hotel and water park, which is expected to employ around 500 people. CallisonRTKL also assists with the master planning of the entire project and acts as the architect for the Native American Marketplace as well as retail and hospitality components. Johnson & Associates of Oklahoma City provided site preparation and ongoing support.
Project funding, including site rehabilitation, infrastructure and development, will come from both private and public sources. Public funding includes tax increase funds, MAPS4, federal transport grants and funds from existing general bond issues.
The plans presented today assume that the project will be completed in late spring 2024.
City and business leaders commented on the announcement of the OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark.
“The caliber of this development is world-class and truly worthy of America’s 22nd largest city,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “The opening of FAM was only the first step in unlocking the potential of this location for our community. The announcement of the development plan shows how Oklahoma City can become an international destination for indigenous and indigenous culture. This development helps create a place where indigenous and indigenous peoples come together and a place where all people experience this culture. On behalf of the people of Oklahoma City, we are so grateful to the Chickasaw Nation for their vision and commitment to this project. Our mutual partnership is something that Oklahoma City values very much. “
“We are delighted that the area around the First Americans Museum (FAM) is being developed with care and appreciation for the museum’s architectural integrity. Our new neighbors, AICCM Land Development, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chickasaw Nation, worked with and involved with FAM in planning the project. The FAM team played an advisory role throughout the process. Both the FAM and the surrounding communities will benefit greatly from the presence of the conference hotel and water park, ”said James Pepper Henry, Director and CEO of the First Americans Museum.
Roy Williams, President and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said, “The number of dining and lodging options for all types of OKC visitors has exploded in recent years. And soon the OKANA Resort will bring an additional experience that complements our unique new museum. The economic impact of a commercial development of this magnitude, especially near the new park and the First Americans Museum, builds on the dynamism that has been achieved in our city in recent years. It pays homage to the “can do” spirit of OKC public and private sector leaders, including our partners in the Chickasaw Nation in particular. “
Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Zac Craig said, “With the world out of the pandemic, we expect competition in the Convention area to be intense for several years. But I can say with confidence that with world-class attractions for both vacation travel and convention companies, OKC is ready to rival any city in this region and beyond. The OKANA project is a welcome and exciting addition to OKC’s hospitality and entertainment portfolio and will further increase the economic vitality of our city. “