KINGSTON-At nearly a decade in the making, the long-promised development at Pointe Vista on Lake Texoma may finally be gaining some traction.
Early attempts at privatizing the area failed due in part to timing — the financial crisis in 2007 and the Great Recession that followed did little to progress development in the area, and the state in general.
The initial loss of the lodge, which was demolished in 2009, dealt a serious blow to the area, mixed with the recession and the downturn in the oil industry, the issue has had a lasting effect.
“That really killed it down here,” Steve Jennings, owner of Blackbead Marine, said. “It hurt a lot of businesses, a lot of them had to close. When the lodge closed, it took a lot of jobs with it.”
Those and many more jobs may soon be returning to Kingston. The State of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation have reached an agreement that could lead to the creation of a high-end hotel and casino, and with it, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenues for all parties involved.
The Chickasaw Nation is currently in the process of placing the development into a trust. The trust process can take up to 3 years. The application must first go through the U.S. Department of Interior. If the trust is approved, a number of additional steps will be needed, all of which will need to be approved by various government agencies.
“It’s been a vacant lot since 2006 when the property was first purchased, to the time the lodge was demolished in 2009,” Gov. Mary Fallin told the Ardmoreite.
Fallin said the agreement would allow the plot to finally live up to its potential as a significant tourist attraction for Southern Oklahoma.
“The good thing is, we will finally have the jobs and revenue coming back into the state,” she said. “It should also spur other development in the area.”
Bill Lance, Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Commerce, said conceptual drawings and further details on the development will not be made public until the land is placed in trust.
“This is a step-by-step process and our initial steps revolve around securing approvals from various governmental agencies,” Lance said. “Typically, our tourism/resort projects have a significant impact on local economies. We are expecting to hire at least 100 people, most of whom will live in the area.”
Lance said an additional 100 jobs would be created for the construction process, plus the countless auxiliary positions needed to support an expected influx of visitors to the area.
Plans for the development have yet to be released, though Lance pointed to similar project in the state as to what could be expected.
“WinStar World Casino is an excellent example. Although it is premature to discuss specific concepts and styles for the Lake Texoma project, I think it is fair to assume this facility will be more rustic than WinStar or Riverwind Casino in Norman, “he said. “This is primarily because the facility needs to compliment a more rural, lake-focused setting.”
According to a 2014 report from the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, tourism contributed $7.5 billion to the Oklahoma economy in 2013, generating more than $400 million in tax revenues.
“We anticipate this project will be an anchor tourist destination at Lake Texoma,” he said. “There are an estimated 6 million visitors to the area each year and it is our goal to not only increase that traffic but give them a fun, inviting, quality hotel and casino that will entice them to stay even longer. It is absolutely our goal to bring more business and more people to Lake Texoma.”