A city board will have a public hearing and special meeting Thursday to consider a tax financing agreement for the $80 million redevelopment of the Oak Ridge Mall.
The public hearing starts at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. It will include a presentation by Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina company that has a purchase contract on the mall and has proposed redeveloping it. The public hearing will also include public comments.
The Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board will have a special meeting after the public hearing to consider approving the tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement, which could be recommended to Oak Ridge City Council and Anderson County Commission.
TIFs allow new property tax revenues generated at a site to be used for site development. City officials have said this TIF could be worth around $10 million and be used for roads, stoplights, and demolition at the redeveloped 60-acre mall.
Even with the TIF, Oak Ridge economic development consultant Ray Evans said, the city and county would continue to collect a total of about $111,000 in existing property taxes on the mall each year, with the revenues split roughly 50 percent. They would also capture 14.7 of the incremental tax increase, with 10.7 percent going to the city and four percent to the county, Evans said.
That means that, even with a TIF, both governments would collect more property taxes than they do now, Evans said. Officials and executives have also estimated that the mall would create almost 1,000 new jobs and increase annual city and county sales tax revenues by more than $2 million.
“We’re talking about a tremendous game-changer,” Oak Ridge City Council member Charlie Hensley said during last week’s council meeting.
The IDB meeting was postponed in September to allow the city’s TIF policy to be updated to conform with current state law. The IDB and City Council both approved changes this month that update the city’s policy. One of the changes under state law is that TIFs can now be used for private infrastructure and costs such as demolition, city officials said.
Oak Ridge has used a TIF before, though on a much smaller scale of about $625,000, 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.
The two remaining anchor stores at the 500,000-square-foot mall, JCPenney and Belk, would stay. So would Walmart and the Cinemark Tinseltown theater.
Meanwhile, the existing interior space between the anchor stores would be demolished. Previous mall redevelopment plans had also called for demolishing that interior retail space.
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.
A copy of the mall property map is available for inspection during normal business hours at the Oak Ridge Municipal Building, display board near the Courtroom/Public Safety entrance.
See the legal notice here: IDB Public Notice on Oak Ridge Mall Redevelopment Hearing.
See the IDB public hearing and special meeting agenda here: IDB Agenda for Oak Ridge Mall Hearing and Meeting.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Note: This story was updated at 12:50 p.m.
Philip W Nipper says
John, in looking at the posted map at the municipal building, I see that the AMSE is included as well as some of the apartment buildings on Rutgers Ave. I believe I have read somewhere that these buildings will not be part of the TIF / Mall re-development. If that is the case, why do they continue to be included in the red bordered TIF zone portion of the map?
The map shows properties that could benefit from the project economically. According to Ray Evans, it 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.
Property owners don’t have to agree to be included in the economic development area, Evans said.
If I recall correctly, he has previously said that the Woodland Town Center TIF included the former Dean Stallings Ford, even though that property has not been redeveloped. I think the state statute requires the economic development area map.
Charlie Jernigan says
John, that is correct…
The motive to include extra nearby properties is that their assessments are likely to also rise from being near to the development and their tax increments will be used to pay off the TIF loan earlier than could occur otherwise.