The meeting to consider a tax incentive that could be used to help redevelop the Oak Ridge Mall has been postponed in order to allow a city board to update its policy to reflect current state law, a city consultant said Friday.
The meeting, which had been scheduled for Sept. 26, could be rescheduled two to three weeks later, economic development consultant Ray Evans said.
He said the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board has a tax increment financing, or TIF, policy that was initially enacted in 2008 and last updated in 2011.
But the state statute changed in 2012, and the current IDB policy for TIFs doesn’t reflect the state statute, Evans said.
“We wanted to get this procedure in the right order,” he said.
The IDB could consider updating its policy during an Oct. 7 meeting and the Oak Ridge City Council could consider it on Oct. 14.
TIFs allow new property tax revenues generated at a site to be used for site development. If its policy is revised, the IDB could recommend a mall TIF to the Oak Ridge City Council and Anderson County Commission. City officials have said the TIF could be worth up to $10 million and be used for roads, stoplights, and demolition work at the redeveloped 60-acre mall.
Many of the details aren’t available yet, however, including the precise amount of the proposed TIF agreement and the length of time it could be in effect.
The city has published a map of the Oak Ridge Mall economic development area. It shows properties that could benefit from the project economically.
The map is not meant to suggest that some properties included in the economic development area—such as the American Museum of Science and Energy, or the Manhattan Apartments—would be redeveloped, Evans said.
“There is nothing implied about redevelopment of those properties,” he said.
Property owners don’t have to agree to be included in the economic development area, Evans said.
“It technically doesn’t affect them one way or another,” he said, adding that they would not pay more in taxes. “It has no effect on them as far as taxpayers are concerned.”
Oak Ridge has used a TIF before, though on a much smaller scale, to help developers build Panera Bread, Aubrey’s, and Aldi on South Illinois Avenue.
The mall redevelopment has been proposed by Crosland Southeast, a development and investment company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. That company signed a contract in late January to buy the mostly empty mall from Oak Ridge City Center LLC, although the deal hasn’t closed yet.
City officials emphasized that no public money would be at risk in the mall project, separating it from other earlier retail development proposals that were rejected by voters, including one about a decade ago at the mall and the other on top of Pine Ridge. Those financing packages, which put a significant amount of public money at risk, were subject to referendums, but the TIF would not be, Oak Ridge officials said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.