The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 12, 2013

City-owned no more: Homeland building changes hands, retailer in by Christmas

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — With nearly eight years as a vacant building standing among commercial giants, the structure formerly branded Homeland finally has changed hands.

On Wednesday morning, City Manager Eric Benson got word that Hunt Properties had closed the more-than $1.75 million deal. He mentioned it later that morning during the grand opening ceremony for Enid Event Center. During his announcement, Benson also said T.J. Maxx will be the first retailer to open.

The store sells clothing, footwear, domestics, furniture and giftware.

“They want to be open by Christmas,” Benson said.

That date also correlates with the requirement that a business open inside the old Homeland building by Dec. 25 to earn a sales tax rebate for Hunt Properties. The agreement has the city giving back thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue to Hunt, and it was only finalized this month.

According to the agreement, the city will return 1 percent of every sales tax dollar collected by businesses Hunt Properties recruits into the store, up to $950,000. The window to collect those funds closes after 15 years, but officials expect the cap to be reached within six or seven years.

The Homeland grocery store closed in 2005, when the company couldn’t find a buyer to operate the store. The city of Enid bought it six years later.

Benson said he’s happy to have someone moving in.

“It was vacant before I ever moved to Enid,” he said. “But it’s a prime piece of real estate in the most productive corridor in the city, so putting that piece of property in play with generating sales tax and bringing customers to Enid is cause for celebration.”

The building is in the West Garriott commercial corridor that’s lined with national-chain clothing retailers, big box stores, Oakwood Mall and Walmart.

There probably will be two more large retailers announced soon, Benson said, plus one or more smaller retailers to be fit inside the structure.

“I know that there’s several on tap, but there might be some opportunity for some local (business),” said Benson.