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More to build


Clifton Adcock December 26th, 2012

The Oklahoma City Council last week approved a revision in both the budget and scope of Project 180, downtown’s streetscape and green space redesign effort. Its total budget was increased from $157 million to $176 million. While there are several sources of revenue, its main chunk comes from the city’s plans to issue long-term bonds to pay off a $95 million loan from Devon Energy that it used to launch Project 180.

Eric Wenger
Credit: Mark Hancock

Much of Project 180 is to be paid for by tax increment financing (TIF) district 8, which surrounds the new Devon World Headquarters. A TIF caps property tax revenue and diverts property tax values above that cap to other projects.

As part of its agreement with the city, Devon loaned the funds needed to begin Project 180.

City officials have since determined they can use $155 million in bonds to repay the Devon loan early and have money left over for additional Project 180 improvements.

Despite the money from bonds and other sources, funds expected to be generated by TIF 8 were revised downward from $175 million to $157 million, according to City Manager Jim Couch.

That’s largely because the sales tax collected from purchases related to the construction of Devon tower came in less than expected, and property tax revenue projections remain unchanged, said Oklahoma City Alliance for Economic Development President Cathy O’Connor.

While the amount of money from the TIF going to Project 180 was increased from $115 million to $121 million, two other items that the TIF was supposed to fund — economic development and money for other taxing jurisdictions — weathered cuts.

Meanwhile, a bigger Project 180 budget allowed the city to add to the program’s sixth package, including part of E.K. Gaylord Boulevard, which had been left out of previous Project 180 work, with the help of a $750,000 federal grant.

In addition, the city will add a seventh package, to renovate the McGee Center at Myriad Botanical Gardens and the City Hall lawn, and to add a pedestrian plaza between the Oklahoma and Devon towers.

Thus far, around $118.6 million has been spent on projects that either have been completed or are nearing it, according to Public Works Director Eric Wenger. He said the remaining projects are estimated to come in at around $36 million.

He said the city will go about construction in a different manner to avoid impeding access to businesses in the area and to make it easier for motorists to navigate downtown construction.

“We’re very confident with the budget of the project,” Wenger said. “We’re confident with the scope of the project, and we’re ready to proceed on a schedule with some changes on how we do construction that I think will be much better received in the heart of downtown.”


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