New businesses in Norman shopping center leave officials hopeful for resurgence in the area

NORMAN, Okla. - New Orleans native Elane Nguyen can`t wait to open her second crawfish pot restaurant location.

“When we came up here and we saw the building and we saw where it`s at and Lindsay exit being open again we thought it would be a good move for the business,” Elane Nguyen, The Crawfish Pot owner said.

It will open later this summer by Parkway Plaza, a shopping center west of I-35 in Norman.

“That center was built in the mid-90s and so this is kind of the 2.0 second-generation of what the center going to be,” Sara Kaplan, Retail & Marketing Coordinator with the City of Norman.

Right now, there are outlines of signs where businesses once operated.

“Had more to do with the Toys R Us nationwide closure, Office Max closed a couple of years ago. I think that was before the construction,” Kaplan said.

But Elane Nguyen also says she`s seen traffic increase the last six months.

“We start seeing come back alive. There`s cars, there`s jogging, there`s just a lot more traffic,” Nguyen said.

Soon, Cost Plus World Market and Party City will occupy the old Michaels and Toys R Us locations.

Meanwhile, the shopping center will be up for auction in July.

“They`ve been working on increasing the occupancy and that will attract buyers obviously,” Kaplan said.

And more businesses means more money directly back into the City of Norman- cash flow to help fund improvements to streets, parks and help operate the police and fire department.

“Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that cities rely primarily on sales tax for our general options, so we kind of live and die by sales tax,” Kaplan said.

And they are hoping this shopping center will bring more traffic to an area that seems to be forgotten.

“It`s a good sign. It`s a good sign. we`re very excited,” Nguyen said.

The 254,000 square foot property will be up for auction July 10. The starting bid is $3.8 million.

The Crawfish Pot says they hope to open later this summer.

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