Sixth and Final Phase of River West, Tulsa’s First Choice Neighborhoods Site, $25 Million Financing Closes; Updated Resident Outcomes Shared

The final phase of the project’s development now under construction and outcomes from the People portion of the Transformation Plan updated 

TULSA, Okla. (June 12, 2023) – The Tulsa Housing Authority (THA), with co-developer The Michaels Organization, has closed the $25 million final phase six financing for Choice Neighborhoods – River West, a mixed-income workforce housing development. The Choice Neighborhoods – River West project in Tulsa represents the largest investment in affordable housing in the city’s history to date, totaling more than $180 million.  

Phase six of the historic project includes 80 units, with 39 subsidized replacement units, 17 additional tax credit units and 24 market rate units. Housing for this phase includes three two- to three-story walk-up garden style buildings.

Phase six represents the first phase of the project to be built on the former Brightwaters Apartments footprint, transforming this portion of historic Route 66. Buildings on phase five and six that front Southwest Boulevard/Historic Route 66 will reintroduce balconies to the development not seen since phase one.

“This project is the result of years of collective efforts at River West and its completion represents the citywide recognition that more housing units need to be developed in Tulsa,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “This project is just the beginning of our efforts to provide access to more housing opportunities and I’m thankful for Tulsa Housing Authority and everyone who played a role in seeing this project through.”

“The financial closing and ongoing construction of the sixth and final phase of this historic project is a milestone worth celebrating,” said Aaron Darden, THA President & CEO. “Not only have we seen this area of our city transform in front of our eyes over the last five years, we’ve seen the lives of River West residents changed in a meaningful and sustainable way. This project proves that mixed-income communities work, and that they work for Tulsa.”

Urban Strategies, Inc., the organization leading the People portion of the River West CNI plan, shared several updates on outcomes for River West residents, including:

  • Average annual household income for residents has risen from $8,811 in 2018 to $20,097 in 2022, a 128% increase
  • 41% of adult residents are employed, representing an 8% increase from 2021
  • Adult residents reporting they do not have adequate income to support basic needs has decreased 48% since 2018
  • 58% of school age residents are enrolled in out-of-school programming, up from 29% in 2021
  • 86% of target residents are connected to a primary care provider, an 18% increase from 2018

“We are pleased to partner with the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Housing Authority on this exciting and ambitious project,” said Luci Blackburn, HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods director.  “The Choice Neighborhoods program significantly invests in affordable housing, resident opportunity, and neighborhood improvements with a goal of creating equitable communities where all residents can prosper.  We are thrilled to see the River West project move towards completion with HUD’s support.”

“Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency is proud to have partnered with the Tulsa Housing Authority in their revitalization and transformation of the River West community,” said Deborah Jenkins, OHFA executive director.

Phase six financing includes a HUD 221(d)(4) loan and bridge financing provided by M&T Reality Capital Corporation and M&T Bank, 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) investment from RBC Community Investments and investments from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

“RBC is excited to be a partner in all six phases of the River West redevelopment.  It’s an investment not only in housing, but in the transformation of this community that many former and new residents will be able to call home,” said John Galfione, director at RBC Community Investments. The sentiments were shared by Sandra DeFelice, senior managing director at M&T Reality Capital Corporation stating, “It was our pleasure to work with two high-capacity organizations in THA and The Michaels’ Organization to close on the final phase of River West.”

“As we start construction on the sixth and final phase of this transformative development, we wanted to thank the Tulsa Housing Authority for their forward-thinking leadership, and for sharing our commitment to creating Communities that Lift Lives in Tulsa,” said Vice President James Weglarz and the lead developer for Michaels for River West. “With completion of the entire redevelopment in sight, we look forward to managing this vibrant community so that it remains a neighborhood asset for generations to come.”

The Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa (THA) and the City of Tulsa were awarded a $30 million CNI grant in 2017 by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to launch the transformation of the Eugene Field neighborhood into River West, a mixed-income community. In 2023, THA and City were awarded an additional $5 million CNI grant to further support the completion of the transformation plan. THA selected The Michaels’ Organization as its co-developer.

The River West Transformation Plan includes the construction of 435 mixed-income apartments, a renovated West Tulsa Park – Celebration Park which opened to the public earlier this year – and extensive public infrastructure and stormwater improvements. Project totals are estimated at more than $180 million, representing Tulsa’s largest investment in affordable housing to date.

THA and the City of Tulsa were awarded a second CNI grant in September 2022 for the redevelopment of Comanche Park Apartments as part of the Envision Comanche/36N project plan, making Tulsa one of only a few cities nationwide to have two active CNI projects and bringing Tulsa’s total CNI investment from HUD to $85 million.

For more information on River West – Choice Neighborhoods Tulsa, visit


About Choice Neighborhoods

A program of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Choice Neighborhoods leverages significant public and private dollars to support locally-driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. The program helps communities transform neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing and catalyzing critical improvements in the neighborhood, including vacant property, housing, businesses, services and schools.

About Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa

The Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa (THA) is creating a better Tulsa by transforming lives and communities. THA has been serving the community since 1967, providing affordable housing solutions for Tulsa’s most vulnerable populations. THA owns and manages 13 communities, offers four Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance communities and manages the Housing Choice Voucher program. THA serves more than 20,000 Tulsans, providing affordable housing options in tandem with connection to supportive services to help all Tulsans thrive.

About The Michaels Organization

The Michaels Organization is a national leader in residential real estate, offering full-service capabilities in development, property management, construction and finance. Serving 145,000 residents in more than 400 communities nationwide, Michaels is committed to crafting housing solutions that jump start education, civic engagement and neighborhood prosperity and to creating Communities That Lift Lives.