Work has officially been launched on a resort destination and indoor water park expected to be a job-creator and economic driver for downtown Oklahoma City.
The $400 million OKANA resort, being developed by the Chickasaw Nation along the Oklahoma River adjacent to the First Americans Museum, should be a major draw to the downtown area when it’s complete in 2025. Officials have said it will include not only a water park but also a riverfront hotel, a family entertainment center, conference facilities, an amphitheater, spa, restaurants, retail space and an outdoor “adventure lagoon,” among other attractions.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, along with tribal, state and Oklahoma City leaders, took part in an official groundbreaking on Monday.
“Today we celebrate the continuation of strong partnerships among city and state officials and private entities that have been integral in bringing this significant tourism and hospitality venue to central Oklahoma,” Anoatubby said.
The planned 11-story hotel will include 404 rooms. The 4.5-acre outdoor adventure lagoon will sit at the center of the property, featuring a main body of water with sandy beaches and two smaller bodies of water. A pedestrian bridge will help link attractions.
The resort also will feature a 12,000-square-foot family entertainment center, a two-level indoor water park covering more than 100,000 square feet, 39,000 square feet of conference center space, a spa, and a golf simulator. Adjacent to the resort will be multiple retail outlets and dining options.
A 25,000-square-foot gallery will provide space for First American artists to showcase and sell works of art. The amphitheater will accommodate 1,500 guests and have an adjacent outdoor lawn area toaccommodate events and festivals.
“We expect the OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark to be a significant economic driver of job growth and opportunities for everyone in this region,” Anoatubby said
Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Commerce Dan Boren said the resort will employ about 400 people at first and make an annualized economic impact of about $97 million in its first year of operation. It’s estimated the 10-year economic impact of the development will exceed $1 billion. Eventually, full-time employment is projected to expand to as many as 800 direct and indirect jobs annually with a payroll of about $320 million over a 10-year period.
During the construction phase, about 1,400 jobs will be connected with the project with about $80.7 million in payroll, according to a study done by Hotel & Leisure Providers.
“The projected 10-year taxation impact for this project is $107 million to the state of Oklahoma, $86.7 million to Oklahoma City and $3.2 million to Oklahoma County,” Boren said. “It takes cooperation between governments at the tribal, state and local levels, as well as with business leaders, for a project of this magnitude to come to fruition. We appreciate the willingness of all involved to help make this development something that will be a landmark for Oklahoma and Oklahoma City.”
The development is planned to open in early 2025.
Boren said OKANA will connect easily with the Boathouse District with the new Oklahoma River Cruises Ferry Landing, which is funded partially through a $4 million grant from the Federal Transit Association. Additional access to the area will be available through the trails system from both the north and the south sides of the river. 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 2,000-meter course.
Wynne/Jackson, a Dallas-based real estate development firm, is assisting in the development design for the entire project. New York-based Aquatic Development Group is the hotel developer, while Wisconsin-based ADCI is the hotel and water park architect. Benchmark Hospitality will operate the hotel and water park. CallisonRTKL also is assisting in the master planning of the entire project and serving as architect for the First Americans Retail Gallery and retail and dining components.
Johnson & Associates from Oklahoma City assisted with site preparation and ongoing civil engineering work, while Tulsa-based Manhattan Construction Co. will build the resort.