Enid’s long-planned movie theater is no longer in development within The District, city officials said Wednesday.
But with the door possibly closed on a new theater, Enid City Commission has attempted to open a window by possibly building a new department store on the same anchor spot within the developing retail corridor.
After an hour-long closed executive session, commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday night to provide a Tulsa real estate developer with $1.9 million from the city’s Economic Development Authority to help fund construction of a store on the undeveloped 7.4 acres, which also would be transferred.
Jim Dill, CEO of Vector Properties, is seeking to enter into a 10-year lease agreement with the unnamed department store, which would include men’s, women’s, children’s clothing and shoes, along with household goods, according to the city.
Dill plans to develop spaces for additional retailers in the tract, according to the city.
City Manager Jerald Gilbert said the store would be revealed once Dill finalizes a lease in the coming weeks.
Talks had been going for nearly a year as work stalled on building the movie theater, long intended as the anchor spot for 20-acre The District, at Garriott and Cleveland, said Lisa Powell, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance.
Powell said Dill needed the city to make a commitment before the store’s real estate committee deadline, warranting the city commission to meet ahead of its regularly scheduled meeting next Thursday, Jan. 20.
A development funding budget was needed to execute the letter of intent, Powell said.
Total construction and development costs are estimated at more than $7 million, according to the memo signed Wednesday by Mayor George Pankonin.
“We were disappointed to see when Dillard’s and Penneys left (Oakwood Mall),” Pankonin said. “We’ve been working very hard to try to get someone here. … It’s in a great spot, and I think it’s gonna be great for the community and something everybody’s looking forward to, and I join them in looking forward to that.”
Dill had spent nearly two and a half years attempting to “de-mall” Oakwood Mall — then, too, receiving an incentive package from the city. Vector and Oakwood’s managing company parted ways on the redevelopment in 2014 after not meeting numerous construction deadlines, according to the News & Eagle.
Dill declined to comment to the News & Eagle about his plans Wednesday after also putting his name to paper on the two-page memo of intent.
The incentive loan, running as long as the lease term, would be forgiven or reduced each year by $190,000 if the store generates at least $4.75 million in annual sales. At the end of the lease, the unforgiven balance would become due.
The new department store is projected to generate over $7.5 million in annual sales, according to the memo of intent.
The city of Enid would request transferring the acreage from Kyle and Alex Williams’ Anchored Capital 3 Investments, which has owned the undeveloped land since 2019 with the expressed intent of developing a new movie theater.
These agreements both would be executed after a lease agreement is entered into between Vector Properties and the department store.
In June 2020, city commissioners had approved offering Apex Cinemas an incentive package with a $3.5 million rebate, to be paid over 15 years, to develop the donated 7.5-acre movie theater tract. The deal was never fully accepted, Powell said.
Along with the 42,000-square-foot theater, the tract would’ve include a 20,000-square-foot trampoline park complex by Big Air.
But because of the COVID pandemic, as movie theaters across the country began shutting down, Powell said banks didn’t want to finance constructing new ones.
“We were real close on the movie theater deal before,” she said. “I guess maybe we’d be sitting with a shut-down movie theater, I don’t know.”
She said developers and economic development officials still are waiting for markets to re-stabilize to pre-pandemic levels before anyone wants to finance a theater.
Much of the rest of The District already is under development or open for business — Hideaway is set to open by the end of the month.