According to Barbara Burleson of the City of Altus Planning Department, there have been a lot of business activity in Altus this year, as well as new construction and housing projects.
Burleson said that housing is consistent, with new plats currently going through. There are also new smaller homes going in, with new construction of 12 homes right now.
Altus’ biggest industry news came in October with the official announcement that two companies, Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS) and Aviation Training Consulting (ATC), would be opening the Altus Sikorsky Training Academy in the old Luscombe facility on the north edge of town. Sen. Jim Inhofe said that Altus has a lot of advantages for aviation-related industry, with the Altus Air Force Base training programs, and the proximity of Fort Sill.
Steve Estell, Sikorsky Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, said that the U.S. Department of Defense has a contract with Sikorsky for 600 more Black Hawks within five years. “But, the real growth is in international sales. World politics is changing. New allies are emerging, like the UEA.” Estelle said, “They will be receiving quality training here. Altus will fill the last gap for Sikorsky,” Estelle said. “The U.S. Army has trained many pilots, but they have their limits.” Now, by selling more helicopters to allies, Estelle said, this presents a great opportunity for Altus. He said the company saw multiple advantages of Altus: ATC, a lot of space to grow, airspace, a cadre of instructors, the proximity to Altus AFB and their training, and Ft. Sill’s tactical training all added value to the Altus location.
As far as new businesses go, there have been several open this past year including Van Zandt storage facility that is using an existing building on W. Cypress, and on N. Main, El Ray Mexican Grill, Anvil Tattoos, Empire Finance, A-1 Detailing, Pilates in Altus, and Black Orchid Floral have all opened. Red River Credit Corp Loans also just opened in the 900 block of N. Main next to T Nails manicures. Araceli’s breakfast and lunch restaurant opened this past year in the old Plaza Restaurant location on Broadway, and Gator’s Western Wear opened in the Plaza Shopping Center before Christmas.
Some existing businesses have moved this past year, including Midwestern Loans and Fancy Nails to the Bunker Hill Shopping Center, and H&H Furniture to the old Wilmes Ford building on Grady.
The new construction in the 600 block of East Broadway across from the United Supermarket will be home to the drug store currently located inside the United. The new building will feature a drive-up window for customer convenience. Also on East Broadway, look for a new Japenese Sushi and Hibachi Grill that will open in the old KFC building.
Other business activity mentioned by Burleson include the ongoing expansion of Wilmes Chevrolet, updates to the Pizza Hut building, and the remodeling and new construction in and next to Altus NBC.
NBC has begun an ambitious three-phase process of refurbishing their facility. Originally completed in 1928 the cornerstone on the north side of the downtown Altus square became NBC Bank in 1931. Upgrading the 84 year old landmark will give them more event space, put the safe deposit boxes on the ground floor and give the loan officers and administrators more contact with the customers. Phase one will help restore part of the north side of the downtown Altus square similar to the late 1920s. The building space on the east side of NBC will be transformed into an Event Center where an old movie theater once stood. The front of the building will recreate the old Wigwam Theater with a box office and glass coming attractions marquees. The event center will be a 2,000 square-foot one-story facility, with a two-story facade. The upper structure will cleverly hide the air conditioners for NBC to the west, and match the facade on the building occupied by Southwest Printing, to the east. Phase two will include major remodeling of the main lobby area of the bank itself. The third phase will be a remodeling of the existing north side of the first floor to provide better public restroom facilities. This will also provide more lease-out space. Other refurbishing will improve energy efficiency and provide additional fire protection and increase security.