The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 7, 2012

Northwest Oklahoma’s very excited about Enid’s plans for ‘de-mall’ project

“De-mall” sounds like part of the word “demolish,” but demolition is only part of the proposal to renovate Enid’s Oakwood Mall.

Developer James Dill used the first D-word to describe a $35 million plan to transform Oakwood into an open-air retail and entertainment center.

Many residents felt something needed to be done to modernize the mall built nearly three decades ago. The innovative proposal comes during another oil boom for northwest Oklahoma.

Tulsa-based Vector Companies is asking the city of Enid and Garfield County to consider sharing net new city sales tax revenue and net new county ad valorem tax revenue above the current ad valorem tax base, generated by retailers in the redeveloped Oakwood project.

Dill said the mall generates about $1.5 million in sales and ad valorem tax, and he expects to double that amount.

The groundbreaking proposal has lots of moving parts. The anchor tenants  — Dillard’s, Sears and JCPenney — would receive a new “skin.”

Meanwhile, the indoor commons area would be replaced with parking and walking space, and the remaining retail area would be rebuilt.

The first phase of construction would build new restaurants north of the existing mall, construct a new 10-screen or 12-screen theater at the southwest corner of the land and build a new Goody’s store.

The second phase would demolish the indoor mall commons area, while the third would construct new “in-line” stores in-between the revamped anchor stores.

It’s our understanding that retailers won’t move until the new facilities are open, and we hope businesses won’t be interrupted during construction any more than necessary. Existing businesses may relocate to a new retail space, surrounded by a landscaped plaza with a water feature.

Dill, the man responsible for transforming Tulsa’s Southroads Center, claims new jobs will be added along with new nationally known stores, namedropping the likes of Petco, Maurice’s and Ulta.

Chen Garden restaurant plans to relocate, and developers say they are negotiating with national restaurant chains.

Dill described Enid as a tertiary market, but our unique trade area could lure more national retailers and big- to medium-box stores with this renovation.

This plan is exciting. According to our unscientific online poll, a whopping 72 percent of readers like the proposal to be considered by the Enid City Commission. If approved, the indoor power walkers at the mall will have to find a new location.

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