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2nd Street Project Enters Building Phase

LAWTON Okla_ It's a "go" for the construction of phase two of Lawton's 2nd Street project, a shopping center between Bell and Euclid Avenues.

That's what members of the Lawton Economic Development Authority (LEDA) announced in a meeting today at City Hall. They say all the financial and legal documents are in place to start building.

LEDA said building of the new shopping center will most likely start next month, but before they can do that, they have to close the deal. They hope to do that next week.

For months, work crews have been busy on 2nd Street, clearing away rubble and leveling off land for both the hotel and conference center and the shopping complex. Mayor Fred Fitch told LEDA Thursday crews can finally start putting up buildings.

"This is tremendous for us," Mayor Fitch said. "We're excited about it. It's been a long, long go."

He said he's not the only one breathing a sigh of relief. The project's lawyer, Dan Batchelor is, too.

"It represents the significant community achievement in the face of a lot of difficulties totally beyond the control of the community and project," Batchelor said. "The great recession was a tremendous barrier of ever putting this project together, yet here we are. It's coming together."

Batchelor said it also represents a commitment by city leaders and the community to come together for a vision and make it reality.

"That makes it special," Batchelor said. "I do believe that it stimulates a lot of future benefits for this community."

Mayor Fitch said getting the project to this point hasn't been easy, but it was well worth the fight.

"Working with all the retailers, working with the developers, the hotel conference center, it's been very demanding and very exciting," Fitch said. "One day you go home, and you're down. The next day, you're back up again. So, there are a lot of ups and downs and a lot of hurdles. So, we've gotten over all the hurdles."

Mayor Fitch said the closing for Phase Two is next Tuesday. If all goes well, the next step will be constructing several new retail shops.

Mayor Fred Fitch said LEDA has already closed on the hotel and convention center. Construction for that is expected to start in April and will take about a year to build. In fact, the hotel has already booked 300 guests for July 2014.

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