The Norman Transcript

April 7, 2013

Military support group looking for new home

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A new vision for Crossroads Mall will establish it as La Gran Plaza — a cultural shopping destination serving the growing Hispanic population and others who want a taste of Hispanic ambiance.

While the proposed revitalization is exciting news for south Oklahoma City and the regional economy, for some, it will mean finding a new home.

The HUGS Project is among those looking for a new location. The Hugs Project, started May 2004 in Oklahoma by Ray and Karen Stark, is a nonprofit 501 C 3 organization. It was the first group to send special ties for troop in the Middle East to wear around their necks to help them stay cool in summer or warm in winter. Those ties, nicknamed as hugs because they go around the neck, were just the beginning.

The Hugs Project has grown and now has members in every state and 58 foreign countries. The group stays busy sending out hugs, helmet coolers and other care items to troops stationed overseas. The group will have a booth this weekend at Norman’s Medieval Fair.

Investors Mike Dillard and Roddy Bates purchased the Crossroads Property in 2011 and have been formulating a plan based on successful mall revitalizations in other markets. The project has officially kicked off and will culminate in an announcement on April 24 at 4 p.m., center court of the mall to announce the new name of the center along with architectural renderings, new tenants and more detailed plans for the property.

Raptor Properties, LLC also has purchased the former Dillard’s department store as a part the plan to bring Crossroads Mall back as an Oklahoma City destination.

Meanwhile, the HUGs group is looking for anyone with 4,500 sq. ft. to lease or donate at a very good rate. The nonprofit is supported by volunteers who are not afraid of hard work and are willing to help with renovations. Those volunteers include people licensed in trades that can help with the renovation.

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