OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Since the First Americans Museum opened to the public last month, it has been a huge success and now the Chickasaw Nation says it is preparing for a new project.
On Thursday, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby unveiled plans for a major resort-style development to be located near the museum.
OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark will be a $300 million development along the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City.
“Strong partnerships and diligent effort among city and state officials and private entities have been integral to the launch of the First Americans Museum,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “With this world-class First Americans Museum now in operation, we are ready to turn our focus to what we believe will be another significant tourism and hospitality venue. It is our vision that the OKANA Resort will enhance the experience for visitors from not only our region, but across North America and around the world. OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark has been designed to complement the First Americans Museum’s focus on cultural experience as well as connect visitors to other entertainment experiences along this established and vibrant part of the Oklahoma River.”
The first phase of the project will develop 40 acres of the total 140 acres held by AICCM Land Development, LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation.
Officials say the resort-hotel will feature an 11-story, 404-room hotel with riverfront and lagoon views. A five-acre outdoor adventure lagoon will sit at the center of the property.
A pedestrian bridge will stretch across the main body of water, allowing guests to easily move throughout the property. The resort also will feature a 33,000 square-foot family entertainment center, over 100,000 square-foot indoor waterpark, 39,000 square feet of conference center space, spa and golf simulator, and multiple retail outlets, and dining options.
“Undoubtedly, an entertainment and lodging complex of this magnitude will add significantly to the exciting progress going on in Oklahoma City. Initially, the resort is projected to employ 400 people and the annualized economic impact year one is projected to be $97 million. Additionally, estimates for the 10-year economic impact of this development are projected to exceed $1 billion, with full-time employment expanding to approximately 700-800,” said Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Commerce Bill Lance.
Organizers say the development will also feature a Native American Market and amphitheater, which will provide a space for artists to showcase works of art or other creations.
Lance noted that the development will connect easily with the Boathouse District through a new Oklahoma River Cruises Ferry Landing funded through a $4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Additional access to the area will be available through the trails system from both the north and the south. With the property located directly on the Oklahoma River, visitors will have a front-row seat to the starting line for U.S. Rowing National High Performance Center’s 2000-meter course.
“The caliber of this development is world-class and truly worthy of America’s 22nd-largest city,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “FAM’s opening was just the first step in establishing this site’s potential for our community. The announcement of the development plan illustrates how Oklahoma City can emerge as an international destination for Native and Indigenous culture. This development helps to further create a place where Native and Indigenous people will come together, and a place where all people will experience that culture. On behalf of the people of Oklahoma City, we are so grateful to the Chickasaw Nation for its vision and its commitment to this project. Our mutual partnership is something that Oklahoma City deeply values.”
The project will be funded by private and public sources including MAPS4 funds, federal transportation grants, and funds form existing general obligation bonds.
The plans submitted today estimate a project completion in the late spring of 2024.
“As the world emerges from the pandemic, we expect the competition in the convention space will be intense for several years. But I can say with confidence that OKC stands ready with world class attractions for both leisure travel and convention business to compete with 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 magnify the economic vitality of our city,” Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Zac Craig said.