The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 16, 2013

We hope building sale serves as a major catalyst to the ‘de-malling’ process

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — One year ago, it was pitched as Enid’s biggest retail development in three decades. We’ve been waiting with anticipation.

We’re talking about the Oakwood Mall “de-malling” announced by Tulsa-based Vector Companies.

While the anchor tenants of Dillard’s Sears and JCPenney plan to remain, the mall should be transformed into an outdoor, regional shopping center.

Last fall, we grew interested as the city of Enid granted Vector a multi-million dollar incentive in the form of a tax increment finance (TIF) district.

The Enid City Commission approved the plan to help pay for construction for the project, expected to cost about $35 million.

Then the city commission approved a plan to give nearly $1 million in tax rebates to Hunt Properties for redevelopment of the old Homeland store.

An early estimate pegged demolition of the indoor mall areas to July 2013, but Vector Properties President Brenda Dill said a lack of funds held up phase two of the de-malling process.

When Dill protested, anxiousness turned to worry.

Earlier this month, Dill surprisingly urged the commission to nix its plan giving almost $1 million in tax rebates to the Homeland developer.

The rebate passed, despite her and others’ objections.

City officials publicly defended the rebate, saying it wouldn’t become effective unless businesses move in and begin making sales.

It appears retail interests were playing one development against the other, negotiating for a better deal.

On Wednesday, we were excited to learn the former Homeland structure finally has changed hands.

City Manager Eric Benson got word that Hunt Properties had closed the more than $1.75 million deal.

Benson also said T.J. Maxx expects to open by Christmas.

We hope this announcement serves as a catalyst to facilitate the “de-malling” process.

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

We can’t wait.