Outlet mall to open and generate jobs

Tuesday, May 6th 2008, 7:27 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Oklahoma City is engaged in a war -- an ongoing battle for the mighty sales tax dollar.

And Tuesday the City Council approved a project that it believes will help bring the city millions of them: an outlet mall.

A plan is in the works to build an outlet mall at Interstate 40 and Council Road.

The plan totals close to $8 million in incentives representing how significant city leaders believe the project to be.

The city will spend about $2.4 million to make traffic and drainage improvements on and around the currently vacant property at I-40 and Council Road and up to $5.5 million, over ten years, to reimburse the owner of the mall for marketing expenses.

There were some on the horseshoe who favored delaying the vote until the city's policy on providing incentives to retailers could be finalized, but the majority wanted to lock the project in Tuesday.

"We cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for all the ‘I's to be dotted and the ‘T's to be crossed while somebody else takes the deal, and we lose it," Councilman Pete White said.

"You know, we live in an era where we've got to support public safety, and that's really what we're talking about here," Mayor Mick Cornett said. "We're looking at increasing our sales tax base to support police and fire."

But sales tax revenues haven't been growing at predicted rates which some believe is at least partly due to Oklahoma City residents opting to do their shopping outside the city.

Officials said the new outlet mall will be at least 340 thousand square feet -- close to twice the size of the Gainesville outlet center -- with 75 to 90 of the top outlet retailers in the country and with 1.4 million people just a 45-minute drive or less away.

"The city of Oklahoma City is one of the largest MSA's in the country that doesn't have an outlet center servicing it, so we're very excited to be in this general area," Tom Rumptz with the Horizon Group Development said.

City and mall officials said they believe about half the shoppers will come from outside 45 miles, so they believe a lot of the sales tax revenue -- close to $2 million annually -- will be new to the city.

The goal is to have the facility open by Christmas 2009.