The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 5, 2014

Back to the future

Future incentives should be performance-based with clear deadlines

ENID, Okla. — The fog of uncertainty has lifted, at least for the time being.

Oakwood Mall is not under contract with Vector Securities of Tulsa. That means the well-publicized “de-malling” deal is dead.

“Oakwood Mall is currently exploring options for the future of the property,” J. Herzog & Sons, managing company for the mall, announced in a press release.

Closure brings a sense of relief for those suspended in limbo for months following the announced transformation. Relocation and demolition are not eminent for some interior mall businesses.

In June 2012, Vector CEO Jim Dill had announced plans to “de-mall” by eliminating the enclosed spaces and creating exterior entrances for the shops. Even after securing an economic incentive package from local government entities, Vector’s own imposed deadlines for construction passed without visible progress.

Vector received a sales tax rebate deal worth $5 million that would have kicked in upon completion of the de-malling project.

City Manager Eric Benson said the city did everything imaginable to enhance the opportunity for success.

“They had a deadline and just couldn’t get together on the deal,” Benson said.

Back to the future: What will happen next? With the failed deal in the rearview mirror, we hope things can move forward to offer a vibrant shopping experience for Enid and area residents.

The city has shown it is willing to offer economic incentives for appropriate retail expansion. That should be encouraging for other retail developers.

As city leaders look at re-energizing the push for retail growth, any economic incentives should be performance-based with clearly delineated deadlines. Recruited businesses should be targeted in need areas and should not duplicate local options that are already available. To prevent out-of-town shopping leakage, these should be new attractions to Enid’s retail marketplace.

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