A unanimous vote for reinstatement and amendment of a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement by the Delaware County Commissioners has created a buzz of activity on Grand Lake’s Monkey Island as redevelopment of Oklahoma’s most storied resort community moves forward. The master plan for redevelopment of Shangri-La Resort and Country Club calls for an anticipated investment of approximately $250 million over the next fifteen years.

The initial $20 million phase, including a 13,000 square foot club house facility and 27 championship golf holes, is on schedule, with a grand opening of the club house scheduled for Memorial Weekend, 2011. The facility will include a restaurant, bar, fitness center and pro shop. The existing 18-hole course, including two totally new holes, is open for play now. Work is also underway on nine new holes, which are slated to open September 1, 2011. At that point, nine holes of the existing course will be temporarily closed for installation of new greens and irrigation systems with completion anticipated by Thanksgiving, 2011. The final nine new greens will be finished by July, 2012.

Shangri-La Resort & Country Club General Manager Jason Sheffield says the initial $20 million development is all contracted and construction work is already well underway. As the initial phase is being completed, the development team will be analyzing the economic recovery of the state and nation while establishing the best method of moving forward with construction of a new hotel and conference center.

“We have the basic framework in place for the resort hotel, including 140 guest rooms, a restaurant, fitness center, spa, boutique shopping and a 500-seat conference center,” said Sheffield. “Everything depends on the economy, of course, and we’ll spend a good portion of next year developing the best business plan for operation of the hotel facility. If everything falls into place, we hope to begin construction of the hotel in 2012.”

Completion of the clubhouse, golf course, hotel, and conference center will put the initial investment in the project above the $50 million mark, adding more than 125 jobs at the newly redeveloped resort.

Phase II includes a $120-$150 million investment in residential development on the resort property, including condominiums, single-family homes, and lots for private development. Phase III includes plans for retail facilities, restaurants, clubs and commercial office space, Sheffield said. The completed development cost will be in the $250 million range.

Delaware County Commissioners had originally approved the TIF district at the request of a former owner of the resort property in 2008. Unfortunately, the nation’s economic crisis prevented implementation of development plans, and the legendary property remained dormant until the subsequent sale to developer Eddy Gibbs. He immediately began renovation of the existing golf course as redevelopment plans were finalized.

Doug Smith, a longtime backer of the TIF financing agreement, was elected as Delaware County Commissioner in the area that includes the TIF district and the new resort development. He takes office in January, and therefore did not vote on the reinstatement of the tax increment financing district, but he says it will change the face of the future for northeastern Oklahoma.

“Eddy Gibbs’ initial investment was a thrill to those of us who hoped the resort would be rebuilt,” Smith said, “but the TIF agreement enabled him to enhance his commitment to a level that will restore the legendary greatness that the original Shangri-La Resort enjoyed in its heyday in the 1970s and 80s. It will renew Grand Lake’s position as a national destination point, and fuel continued growth and economic development throughout our four-county area,” he said. “Shangri-La Resort will once again be the anchor tenant for business growth throughout this part of Oklahoma.”

Sheffield said the “vision and foresight of the commissioners who approved reinstatement of the TIF enables us to enhance our plans. There is no way we could have built a $7.5 million conference center, for example, without the financing incentives; and that will be a facility that will benefit the entire area, in addition to attracting business leaders from throughout the region to the shores of Grand Lake.

“We are ahead of schedule at the present time,” Sheffield said. “If things go as planned and we get a little cooperative growth in the nation’s economy, we’ll be able to complete the entire $250 million development, including development of the residential and retail areas, before the end of the 15-year term of the financing agreement incentive period.”