Proposal involves developer of $50 million shopping center

By M. Scott Carter

American Staff Writer

With only four of its seven members present, Moore council members signed off on a $5 million sales tax rebate for the developer of a $50 million shopping center being built in Moore.

The proposal -- which rebates up to 80 percent of the sales tax generated by the Shops at Moore shopping center -- would be paid to developer Burk Collins and his company, Moore Sorrento, LLC, over a four year period. That time frame, based on the center's expected opening date, runs from 2008 to 2012.

"This was a tool we needed to get the area redeveloped," said Deidre Ebrey, Moore's economic development director. "Even though the area was a prime area for retail businesses, it was blighted. There were many vacant buildings and the biggest tenant was a bingo place."

By offering the tax rebate, Ebrey said, the city was able to ensure the area would be redeveloped for retail businesses.

"It's a win, win, win type of deal," she said. "The city wins. The developer wins and the public wins."

Under the proposal, Collins' company would receive a rebate of 80 percent of the "true net" sales tax during the first year of the agreement. That percentage would fall to 75 percent during second year; 70 percent during third year; and 65 percent during the fourth year.

The rebate would be capped, Ebrey said, at $5.765 million.

"It's an accumulated total," she said. "The rebate tops out at about $5.7 million."

Currently under construction, the 390,000-square-foot shopping center is designed to bring increased shopping and restaurant choices to the rapidly growing community.

In July, workmen demolished the structures on the site including a building formerly occupied by a Sam's Wholesale Club, an outlet mall and a Microtel Hotel. The shopping center is scheduled to open in September 2007.

"We looked at this as an investment," said Moore City Manager Steve Eddy. "The proposal is very similar to a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district."

Because of the area's high investment costs -- including purchase price and demolition costs -- city officials and representatives of Collins' company agreed to develop the rebate proposal.

"If we hadn't done it, there wouldn't be any development going on there," Eddy said.

The center -- which covers roughly 43 acres -- already has 11 tenants, including a 103,525-square-foot JC Penney, which anchors the complex.

"If Penney's doesn't locate in the center the rebate agreement is void," Eddy said.

Other retailers include: Office Depot, Ross, Fashion Bug, Famous Footwear, Dress Barn, Vintage Stock, TJ Maxx, Michaels, PetsMart and Sally Beauty Supply.

In July, Collins said be expected the site to be "100 percent leased" when in opens in September 2007.

"It's a good deal," Ebrey said. "It's a tool to keep Moore's economic development going."

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