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City withdraws from TIF agreement after developer backs out

After a developer in the commercial area of Oxford Commons informed city leaders they would not be moving forward with participating in a Tax Increment Financing bond to help make improvements to Sisk Avenue near the Highway 7 exit, the Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to withdraw from the Intent Resolution to issue to the bonds.

In July 2017, the Board of Aldermen adopted a resolution of intent to enter into an interlocal agreement with Lafayette County for participation in a Tax Increment Financing bond, commonly known as a TIF, with local developers in Oxford Commons.

However, New Regional Planning Inc, owned by Texas developer Blake Tartt, recently informed the city that “without rezoning or variances from currently allowable uses … the developer is unwilling or unable to make improvements contemplated by the project,” states the Resolution to Withdraw that was passed by the aldermen Tuesday.

In the original agreement, the developer would have paid about $9M for the improvement and then once new construction in an 80-acre area around Oxford Commons was built, and enough sales and ad valorem taxes were collected from the new properties to cover a bond payment, the city would have sold the TIF bonds to repay the developers. The city would have then repaid the bond from the taxes collected from the businesses and properties built after the road improvements were complete.

However, after developers failed to have a rezoning request or special exception granted earlier this year to allow for more density on the property, Public Works Director Bart Robinson told the aldermen Tuesday that the developer feels he would not have the density to support the TIF.

“Withdrawing the previously approved intent resolution will free us up to focus on other options,” Robinson told the EAGLE Wednesday. “These other options could be exploring other funding sources, looking at other ways to mitigate the traffic concerns, looking at other forms of public-private partnerships, or discussing tax increment financing with other developers. At this time we do not have a clear path forward, but I expect to continue the discussions with the Mayor and aldermen in the near future.”