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Gibson Grove breaks ground

A host of Wagoner citizens and city officials gathered Tuesday at the future location of the first master-planned development in the city limits, aptly named Gibson Grove, to celebrate a ceremonial ‘ground-breaking.’

The area of development is south of Wagoner on U.S. 69, about a mile and a half from the intersection of Hwy. 51 and 69.

Daryl Nieto, a developer with Anchor Development and Construction and head of the project, gave a speech at the event, explaining his plans for the large, almost 150-home development after being introduced with a short speech from Wagoner Mayor Albert Jones.

Jones thanked the former property owner Jim Helm, who he said had been working with him personally for five years on seeing the property become what it will now become.

“I think we’ve had just about every developer in the state of Oklahoma come and look at this property,” Jones said. “All of them except one we told to go on down the road.”

“With what we’re doing at the city with our storm water ordinances and trying to make this a civilized community that will bring developers, we finally, by a stroke of providence, got Mr. Daryl Nieto here,” he continued. “He will not only meet our requirements for the future things we’re trying to put in, but actually make this a master-planned development with curb and gutter streets, connecting sidewalks and connectivity to commercial areas.

“I think Mr. Nieto got on about a year and half ago. So much time and energy was spent by (City Administrator) Dwayne Elam, public utilities here in Wagoner and (City Planner) Taylor Tannehill with Nieto to master-plan this neighborhood so that it would be something that we can all look back on and pat ourselves on the back as this becomes the flagship for future development in Wagoner.”

Mayor Jones then introduced the developer, who started by saying he really wanted to take the ground-breaking as a chance to formally introduce Gibson Grove.

Nieto spent extra time on the concept of a “walkable” neighborhood, explaining it takes certain amenities to achieve that. He went on to explain several points about Gibson Grove that makes it special for a development of this kind.

“It may seem insignificant, but there are certain things that make a neighborhood walkable,” he said. “First of all, a walkable neighborhood has to have a center. It must have a place where people can gather. Gibson Grove is going to have a couple of those places. There will be some green space in the courtyard, a playground and pavilion, along with a fishing pond and nature trails.”

“This will not be your typical strip center piece right on the highway,” he continued. “This will be another place in the community where people can go hang out and spend time together. Another thing to make that possible is to have people here. We have 142 lots projected. If you do three people per household, that would be about 420 people coming in and out that we have to feed and keep healthy, so there’s opportunity for businesses to really thrive on that.

“The third thing is having mixed use and mixed income. We’ll have homes that start in the $140,000 range. That will be two-bedroom, single car garage, which will be the entry-level point. Other homes will go up to the $220,000 range.

“The monthly price point on these homes may be higher than people are currently spending, but they’re going to energy efficient.”

He told the crowd, though it may be more expensive to move into the home, “it may be a wash with what you’ll save in utilities.”

A model home will be on the property to post electric and utility bills to give people an understanding of what energy efficiency can save them.

“Another key point to a walkable neighborhood is a pedestrian design,” Nieto said. “We really wanted to design this development so that it encourages people to get out and walk on the sidewalks. The houses will be pulled closer to the sidewalks to encourage more interaction with neighbors … which is all important for a neighborhood like this to thrive.”

The developer said the architecture would be appealing – “good ole’ fashioned Oklahoma architecture.” The two commercial lots up towards the front of the development, closest to U.S. 69, would also follow the standards of the neighborhood.

“You aren’t going to have these huge buildings that you feel like an ant next to, but they will be appealing and will be built to fit to the development,” he said. “People will want to go into the stores and shops there and hang out.”

The final thing, Nieto explained, is “complete streets.” 
“We don’t have any cul-de-sacs here, so it’s kind of going against the grain of common subdivision development where the cul-de-sacs are the safe haven for kids to play … but our goal is to get kids to the parks.

“There will be a continuous flow of traffic. We’ll keep speed limits down to 15 miles per hour. The way the streets are shaped, they’re not just a straight shot, which will keep people from just hauling down the road (at high speeds) and creating a dangerous place for your kids to play.

“One other thing this neighborhood will have is an official Homeowners’ Association, so we will regulate boats and RVs and what can be sitting out in front of homes, which will help maintain property values.”

Before the shovels were handed out for the ‘ground-breaking,’ Nieto told the crowd they would begin seeing dirt move as they get started on phase one. Phase two and three will include more houses before the Gibson Grove’s commercial development takes shape.

In conclusion, he recited a quote from Winston Churchhill: “We shape our buildings, thereafter, they shape us.”

“So, Gibson Grove is going to start taking shape today, this week,” Nieto said. “During the next six months, you’ll see big machines out here moving dirt and cutting retention ponds, and it’s going to be a pretty active spot from this point forward.”