NORMAN — Business knows no boundaries. That’s why stretching Norman to its limits can fill in gaps of service and attract outside dollars from visitors and tourists. Entertainment and dining venues at Indian Hills Road west of Interstate 35 sit on the Norman side of the city’s border. Andy Alligator’s Fun Park and Water Park, Hey Day Family Fun with Double Dave’s Pizza Works, 405 Bicycles and Alpha Gymnastics provide a family-friendly atmosphere and create a regional draw.
Bob Moore Cadillac is the farthest north Norman business, sitting adjacent to Moore city limits.
These businesses link the Cleveland County communities of Norman, Moore and south Oklahoma City.
“I think they’re well suited in an area that’s going to see exceptional growth,” said Norman Chamber President John Woods.
Woods pointed to the easy interstate access. Brad Little, co-owner and manager of Hey Day, said customers come from Yukon, Guthrie and even Woodward to visit the family fun center.
“What I think they’ve created is the starting point of what is going to be an expanding retail, entertainment and housing area in the next decade,” Woods said. “You have the future widening of 36th Avenue in that area, which was on the last bond issue.”
In January, Norman and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation completed major improvements to 60th Avenue Northwest from Tecumseh Road to Indian Hills Road at a cost of approximately $7 million.
“These improvements included widening of the rural roadway from two lanes to four lanes with turning lanes at Tecumseh, Franklin and Indian Hills Road,” said Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary. “A new traffic signal was installed at 60th Avenue Northwest and Indian Hills Road. Major storm water improvements were included in the project because this area is particularly flood prone due to the 10-mile Flat Creek and the Canadian River.”
The city also paved 10-foot shoulders on both sides of the roadway, which serve as bike lanes.
While Norman was planning the 60th Avenue project with ODOT, Oklahoma City was planning a companion project on Western Avenue — the same roadway alignment as 60th Avenue, but a different name — from Indian Hills Road to 134th Avenue (SH-37).
“It is my understanding that Oklahoma City is now ready to begin their portion of the highway improvement on Western Avenue,” O’Leary said. “A few years ago, ODOT had planned to designate this five miles of roadway as State Highway 77H, which is why ODOT has collaborated with both Norman and Oklahoma City on the improvements.
“In 2008, ODOT opted not to establish the state highway designation and instead to allow Norman and Oklahoma City to continue to own and maintain the roadway in exchange for the funding to make these improvements,” he said.
O’Leary said the importance of these companion projects is that they provide a 5-mile improved highway connection between Norman and Oklahoma City.
With I-35 construction projects planned for the future, the 60th Avenue/Western Avenue connection will provide an important alternate route. That link between the cities could grow in importance as the area develops.
“You’ve got several housing plats planned out there as well. There’s no doubt its a growth area,” Woods said. “That square-mile area offers us one of the best opportunities to bring those retail dollars into Norman.”
The addition of the Andy Alligator’s water park has made the location a destination for longer stays.
“People come from as far down as north Texas and play for the day,” said Andy Alligator’s general manager, Kyle Allison. “They may even stay in a Norman hotel and come back the next day.”
Andy Alligator, Hey Day, 405 Bicycles and Alpha Gynmnastics are locally owned.