The Northland Shopping Center, located at 36th Street North and North Hartford in Tulsa, was once at the heart of the now Phoenix District. Following is a brief history of its renaissance and resurgence.
Northland was once a thriving retail hub. When it was built, Northland was Tulsa's largest retail shopping center, weighing in at an expansive 234,000 square feet of shopping Nirvana.
The Northland Shopping Center was built by Tulsa developer I.A. Jacobson sometime in the late 1950's. Unfortunately, newspaper clippings from both the Tulsa World and Tribune spanning the life of Northland are inconsistent. Some said it was built in 1957, some in '58, others in '59. The site was situated on a 31-acre tract.
An article written a year after Northland opened described the center as a, "City within a city. Northland stands as a magnificent tribute to the growth and development of
Eastern Oklahoma in general, and to the north side of Tulsa in particular."
It was also the crown jewel of Northside development, drawing shoppers from the farthest reaches of northeastern Oklahoma. By the mid-1980s, however, the former crown jewel of Tulsa retailing had been transformed into what some city officials termed as a "blight" on the Northside.
The large parking lot, capable of accommodating 2,200 shopper's vehicles, had become littered with wrecked, abandoned cars and other objects signifying urban decay. Storefronts, formerly neat and displaying wares, were a shambles of boarded up
doors, windows and broken glass.
Northland changed ownership six times in its 35-year history. I.A. Jacobson sold it in 1967 for $3 million to Boston-based Massachusetts Real Estate Investment Trust. A year later it sold to National Realty Investors of Boston. In 1973, United National Corp. of New York City bought Northland. Froug's purchased the center in 1975. Realtor Charles B. Cook bought the center in 1978 from Froug's. Then, in 1985, West bought it from Cook for $1.05 million.
The property is now owned by Neighbor for Neighbor and is valued at $6.4 million (fair market value) and goes by Northland Center.
The 36th St. N. Corridor Small Area Plan will breathe life back into the area, placing a main street style economic hub at 36th Street North and North Peoria Avenue.
This article originally appeared in its full form in the Tulsa World, 1993.