The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 28, 2012

TIF tops commission agenda

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The question of whether to approve a Tax Increment Finance district for Oakwood Mall’s “de-malling” will come before the Enid City Commission during a rescheduled regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the city commission chambers.

The TIF has been discussed by a review committee composed of stakeholders in the program, including representatives of the Health Department, Enid schools, Autry Technology Center, and other entities who receive tax funding. The project, as proposed, would renovate Oakwood Mall and add several new businesses.

The project was approved by the TIF Review Committee and by the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. If approved by the city commission, if will be subject to additional public hearings.

A TIF district establishes an area in which increased ad valorem taxes will be delayed for a specific period of time. The funds would be used to help defray construction costs of the improvements. In the meantime, tax-receiving agencies will continue to receive taxes at the current ad valorem rate. At the end of the TIF district time, the higher ad valorem taxes would be collected.

The project, which is expected to cost about $35 million, would turn the mall into an outdoor regional shopping center, said promoter James Dill.

Proponents say repurposing the mall will increase its overall taxable valuation and eventually increase the taxable income entities receiving ad valorem taxes will receive, supporters of the project have said.

Garfield County Assessor Wade Patterson, who has been assessing Oakwood Mall for 15 years, said the mall in the past was valued at $22 million, but that amount has dropped to about $12 million.

If approved, this would be Enid’s first retail TIF district.

Jim Dill, of Vector Securities, previously outlined a revenue analysis of the project.

Vector revealed the plan in June to purchase and renovate, or “de-mall,” Oakwood Mall. The plan calls for construction of new buildings on the front side of the mall property and moving current tenants into them.

The mall itself will be destroyed, except for anchor stores Dillard’s, JCPenney and Sears, which will be maintained and new facades built. Dill said those stores also may remodel the inside portion of their businesses.

Dill said those stores total 229,183 square feet, which will generate an estimated $3,437,745 in new sales. The city will receive yearly tax sharing of $38,675 from those stores.

For junior anchor stores — those with about 121,682 square feet of space — Dill said the analysis showed $17,339,685 in new sales, assuming the mall saw $200 of new sales per square foot at 95 percent occupancy. The city would receive about $260,095 as its tax sharing portion.

Showplex Cinema, which will move to a separate location on the southwest corner of the mall property, will have an estimated 1,254 additional seats and grow to a 12-screen theater. It will generate about $1,600,000 in new net gross sales, Dill said.

He said about 20,000 square feet of new footage will be added to mall shops, which will generate an estimated $8.7 million in new sales.

About 13,000 square feet of new space will be occupied by restaurants, and will generate an estimated $5,200,000 in new sales per year, Dill said. Chen Garden, currently in the front of the mall, will move to a separate building on the mall property, and Dill indicated other restaurants, including a Charleston’s and possibly Cabo Mexican Restaurant, also will open on the property.

Chick-fil-A, currently in the mall’s food court, also will move to its own building on the northwest corner of the property.

Several businesses have signed non-binding letters of intent, Dill said. The figures in his analysis assume a 95 percent occupancy rate, and Oakwood Mall currently is about 30 percent to 35 percent vacant.

Some of the small, independently owned business in the mall recently said they have not been contacted and were concerned about their future when the project is complete. Brenda Dill, president of Vector Properties, said she was preparing letters that would be sent to those retailers to set up meetings. She said dealing with the corporate tenants has been a lengthy process.

Also on Monday night’s agenda is consideration of an ordinance to close to the public a portion of a 20-foot wide alley. The closing is part of the redevelopment of the northeast corner of Garriott and Van Buren for a 13,225-square-foot CVS pharmacy. The project requires a relocation of stormwater and sewer lines along with the closing of the previous easements, according to a memo in the city agenda. Plans have been filed for the relocation of the utilities.

The commission also will examine a resolution declaring default by StarTek Inc. of Enid and authorizing the director of finance to use remaining funds for the payment of debt service on the obligations of the Enid Municipal Authority. The ordinance, approved in 1999, authorizes the levy of an economic services agreement toward that end. The remaining balance of the incentive fund is $407,945.31.

Consent items on the agenda include contracts for services between the city of Enid’s Community Development Block Grant and 4RKids Foundation, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Junior Welfare League of Enid, Sandbox Learning Center, Enid Public Transportation Authority, YWCA, Christmas in Action, and Community Development Support Association to administer grant-funded activities.

Other consent items include a memorandum of understanding for services between CDBG and code enforcement to administer grant- funded activities; a contract with JDI Corporation for Risk Management Information software; a change order for installation of a landfill truck scale; and accepting a grant from Oklahoma Highway Safety Office to provide $72,500 to reduce alcohol-related injuries and fatality collisions within the city of Enid.

The grant, highway safety grant program, now in its ninth year, provides for more than 1,100 hours of overtime shifts dedicated to impaired-driving enforcement, occupant protection and stopping unsafe driving. The grant also funds a one-week training course in motorcycle crashes, and also pays for other costs.