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City, county enter into TIF agreement with Oxford Commons

After over a year of delays, the Sisk Avenue and Highway 7 exit could see some improvements.

During their regular meetings this week, the City of Oxford’s Board of Aldermen and the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted to again enter into a Tax Increment Financing bond, also known as a TIF, with the Oxford Commons development.

The two entities originally signed an agreement with Oxford Commons Developer David Blackburn in 2017 before issues with zoning saw the developer withdraw the request for the bond.

At the time, New Regional Planning Inc, owned by Texas developer Blake Tartt, told the City “without rezoning or variances from currently allowable uses … the developer is unwilling or unable to make improvements contemplated by the project.”

A TIF bond requires the developer to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses to improve the intersection, an estimated $9 million in 2017. After construction on the 80-acres of land around Oxford Commons was completed, and enough taxes were collected from properties occupying the new construction, the City plans to resell the bonds and pay the developer back the funds invested.

The preliminary plan for improvement calls for two roundabouts to be placed on Sisk Avenue, one for each exit off Highway 7, as well as additional work to the roads within the Oxford Commons development.

With budget cuts to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the agency has been unable to allot funds for the needed improvement along the road. Both the City of Oxford and Lafayette County have invested into other road projects – such as the West Oxford Loop extension – and could not devote funds for improvement.

“This (bond) is a demonstration to our federal and state leaders that we try to fix our problems where we can,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “We make investments in our infrastructure and partnering with the developer to do that is really important.”

There is no date set for construction work to begin on Sisk Avenue.