Each year the Altus Times publishes a special edition about the progress of Altus. Today’s edition focuses on various businesses, Altus Air Force Base, new housing and other aspects of the town and area reflecting on the growth and progress over the past year.
"Economy drives everything," said Altus Chamber of Commerce president Holley Urbanski, when asked about Altus' recent building boom. "It actually all goes back to when we were waiting on the BRAC announcement," she said. BRAC stands for “Base Realignment and Closure.”
When Altus Air Force Base was in possible danger of closings during the last BRAC round, everything kind of got put on hold. "There were a lot of plans for building in Altus, but about three years before the announcement was made everything started slowing down - and the year before, nothing at all was going on," she said. As a matter of fact, Urbanski said that right before the BRAC announcement, there were 12 different projects just waiting to begin after the BRAC announcement was made.
As can be seen from one end of Altus to the other, there is now a lot building and business activity going on. Even the Altus Chamber themselves are in the process of moving to a new location and hopes to be completely settled at 301 W. Commerce this coming week.
The new Chamber office will also be the home of the Altus Community Foundation and the Quartz Mountain Music Festival directors offices.
Unlike their current office space on an upper floor of the NBC Bank building, the new facility, formerly Arkla Gas, has been remodeled inside and out. The exterior has been landscaped to reflect the feeling of Southwest Oklahoma with boulders, foliage and even a pair of buffalo statues. The inside will make any visitor looking for information about the area feel welcome upon entering. The new facility also includes a conference room configured with all the latest audio/visual capabilities with overhead projection and internet access.
Some of the other business and building projects that have been completed around town since the BRAC announcement include Applebees, Hampton Inn, Microtel, Estes Dental, Braums, Rexco Pharmacy, Taco Mayo, Grandy's, Starbucks, Walgreens, a medical complex at Park Avenue and Broadway, Putnam Toyota, RSC, Livingston Machinery, Tamarack Church of Christ and a multi-purpose office building on Tamarack.
Businesses currently under construction, but not yet complete, include the Holiday Inn Express on the east edge of Altus next Putnam Toyota, Quizno's on North Main next to the new Rexco Pharmacy, the expansion of Altus Motorsports on Broadway, Jackson County Memorial's new Cancer Center, an expansion at Bar-S, an expansion at Western Oklahoma State College, a janitorial supply business on Tamarack Road, and the rebuilding of the Western Sizzlin Restaurant.
There is also a 60-acre tract for both housing development and commercial use north of Altus across from the Heritage Park Theatres. This will include the Heritage Road Church, a strip mall of businesses and housing developments.
With the combination of the Willinghams 77 acres, Jim Albert's Madison Trail Apartments and Quail Addition and the Kerr Addition, Altus will soon see 400 new housing lots.
Why the need for so much more housing? With business additions and expansion comes the need for more employees. Uranski said the Bar-S expansion alone is creating 100 new jobs, plus the expansion at Quartz Mountain Aerospace, Altus Athletics and Jackson County Memorial alone will bring in more than 200 additional jobs. "The current housing situation is very limited at this time, so there is definitely a need for more new housing in Altus," she said.
Be sure and look through all sections of today’s edition for special stories and features about the growth and expansion, as well several of the new Altus businesses.