It’s already been approved by the Oak Ridge City Council, and a 10-year extension of the $13 million tax agreement that could be used to help redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall will next be considered by Anderson County officials.
The agreement will be considered by the Anderson County Operations Committee on Monday evening. It could then be considered by the full Anderson County Commission later this month.
Like Oak Ridge officials, Anderson County officials will consider extending the tax agreement for the 59-acre project by 10 years—from 20 years to 30.
Officials have described the proposed redevelopment, named Main Street Oak Ridge, as an $80 million project that could fill a “hole in the heart” of Oak Ridge, bring new retail life to the city’s downtown, and build a lasting legacy.
The 10-year extension of the tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement is one of several steps meant to reduce the risk for four local lenders that could combine to offer $13 million in loans to part of the redevelopment.
The TIF would use new property tax revenues generated at the mall site and 120 surrounding acres included in the TIF area to repay those loans. Officials said the loans could be repaid in 18 years, according to financial models. The extra 10 years is meant to act as a “shock absorber” and help make sure that the banks are repaid if there is a “glitch” in the project that would push the repayment past the previously approved 20-year term.
The original 20-year TIF was endorsed and approved by Oak Ridge officials and Anderson County officials last fall and approved by state officials this winter. The Oak Ridge City Council approved the 10-year extension in a 6-1 vote in September.
A TIF has previously been used in Oak Ridge, although on a much smaller $600,000 scale, at the Woodland Town Center on South Illinois Avenue.
Also Monday, the Anderson County Operations Committee will consider reinstating funds to the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department, discuss a nepotism policy, and discuss the feasibility of establishing a senior citizen center in the county.
After hearing from the public, the AVFD has dropped its controversial membership fee and is returning to a donation-funded department, Fire Department volunteers said in an August 25 letter to the community. Former Chief Jeff Bagwell has resigned, and Rodney Reeder is the new fire chief.
“In order to maintain our community’s current high level of 24/7 emergency medical and fire services, the fire department needs your help to raise $250,000 for 2015,” the volunteers said. And based on suggested donation amounts, that means the Fire Department needs participation from 65 percent of the community, the letter said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See the agenda for Monday night’s meeting here.