Note: This story was updated at 10:02 a.m.
County’s part of agreement does not change
The Oak Ridge City Council has agreed to add another 10 years to the agreement that will be used to help redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall, and during its regular meeting in October, the Anderson County Commission concurred with the change.
There were no objections, and the Commission’s concurrence with the city’s 10-year extension of the tax increment financing, or TIF, passed 15-0. The city’s portion of the TIF has been extended from 20 years to 30, and the county’s remains unchanged at 20.
The city’s TIF extension had also been approved by the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, and the County Commission concurred with that change as well.
Ray Evans, retail consultant for the City of Oak Ridge, told commissioners that Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina firm that has proposed the redevelopment, could close on the property at the end of the year. Demolition could start in the first quarter of 2015, and retailers could have space in the redeveloped 59-acre site by mid-2016, Evans said.
“We think we’re very close to getting across the finish line,” Evans said.
The redeveloped property, which is in the center of the city, would be renamed Main Street Oak Ridge. The $80 million project would have a mix of anchor stores, smaller “junior” retailers, large and small shops, restaurants and retailers, and outparcels. The existing enclosed space between the two remaining anchor stores—Belk and JCPenney—would be demolished, and Main Street Oak Ridge could contain about 400,000 square feet of retail space in multiple buildings, up to 100,000 square feet of office space and a hotel, plus the construction of up to 50 multi-family residential units.
The TIF extension was one of several recent moves meant to reduce the risk for four local lenders that could combine to offer $13 million in loans to part of the redevelopment under a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement. That incentive 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 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. Crosland Southeast has had a purchase contract on the site since January 2013.
Evans said the proposed TIF change requires state approval, and it was sent to Tennessee officials last week. The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Comptroller of the Treasury have 30 days to respond.