More details are emerging about the plans for the renovation of the TeePee Drive-In, which was purchased in March by the Kante Group, as reported by Sapulpa Times.
At the May 4th, 2021 Sapulpa Planning Commission meeting, one of the items discussed was a Specific Use Permit (SUP) for the property, which is designed to “address uses which are specialized in nature.”
What sorts of uses is the applicant alluding to? According to the Sapulpa Planning Commission staff report from April 27th, the Kante Group is looking to expand the property to be a multi-use outdoor entertainment venue. The project includes a drive-in theatre, short-term rentals, food trucks and an outdoor dining area, a playground, and a structure for a bar, snacks, and possible novelty shop of some sort.
Joni Rogers-Kante, CEO of SeneGence International, told Sapulpa Chamber Director Suzanne Shirey in a recent episode of the Billion Dollar Lips podcast that she remembered spending “many, many weekends” at the TeePee Drive-In, calling the experience “some of my most cherished memories.”
Rogers-Kante explained her vision of the renovated drive-in as in keeping with the 1950s theme, and has special plans for kids and teenagers who want to visit the venue, but can’t drive. “We wanted to make space for those who don’t have a car,” she said. “We’ll gather the bodies of 1950s cars and refurbish them and cement them into the ground.” She later added that these immobile automobiles would be available for reservation.
For the short-term rental aspect of the SUP, the applicant says they’re hoping for “vintage airstream RVs” that could be used for renting as an Airbnb, “or just used for viewing the movie,” Rogers-Kante said.
At one point, manufactured homes were being considered, but City staff rejected the idea, instead insisting that the RVs to be used as short-term rentals be permanently affixed to the land and inspected by the city. The original screen will remain, but Rogers-Kante did say that it will be enhanced by a stage that could be used for concerts and other events.
Members of the Sapulpa Planning Commission were excited about the prospect of reopening the famed Route 66 icon. Commissioner Andrew Probst said he believed the entire town would be happy about the renovations, and others agreed. Kayla Parnell asked Ted Fisher, who was representing the Kante Group, what kinds of movies the theater would run. “Are you doing classic movies, or children’s movies, or the up and coming new movies?” Fisher replied that he didn’t know yet. “We’ll play whatever will sell. That’s my guess.” Additional plans were made to look into a tornado shelter for the property, and the Planning Commission approved the permit unanimously.
Rogers-Kante said in her podcast that the drive-in should be opening in the Spring of 2022. “We were thrilled to get ahold of the property, bring it back to life and do it in such a way that even more people can enjoy it,” she said.