Claremore Daily Progress

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November 16, 2010

Big development in works for Catoosa

Multiplex, restaurants, shops could be financed by TIF district

CLAREMORE — Catoosa is trying its hand where Claremore has so far failed.

The developer of Owasso’s Smith Farm Marketplace is proposing a 66-acre shopping center anchored by an 18-screen movie theater near the Hard Rock Casino — the kind of regional-draw sales tax generator Claremore has been unable to pin down with its unrealized Oklahoma Plaza shopping center.

“This would bring a substantial amount of new sales tax revenue for the county and the City of Catoosa,” Catoosa Economic Development Authority Attorney Daniel McMahan said. “This is a great development for the city and the county.”

Plans for the shopping center, dubbed Catoosa Hills in a site drawing, call for seven to 10 restaurants, 32,000 square feet for small shops and space for an office and medical complex.

It would incorporate the Walgreens, Taco Bueno, Hampton Inn and soon-to-open IHOP already located on the east side of 193rd East Avenue. The remainder would occupy land immediately east and south, bordering Interstate 44.

It could also create 700 to 1,000 full time and part time jobs, city officials said.

McMahan said Wichita, Kan.-based Warren Theaters, which has a location in Moore, has signed on for what would be its second theater in Oklahoma. That likely will draw moviegoers from Tulsa and Wagoner counties, he said.

“This is the type of theater to be a destination theater,” he said. “Most of the ticket purchases would come from outside the county because it sits across from Tulsa County and Wagoner County.”

The company has a reputation for high-quality movie going, he said. Its website describes its theaters as luxurious.

McMahan said Kmart has also shown interest in opening a store at the shopping center.

Catoosa leaders are asking Rogers County Commissioners to sign off on a tax increment financing district to pay for most of the $35 million project, as the developer has asked for $23.7 million in assistance.

Commissioners plan to decide at their Dec. 6 regular meeting.

“I think it’s a very good project. I’d like to have a few meetings about it first,” District 1 Commissioner Dan DeLozier said.

City leaders are considering using a bond for the project initially. The TIF district, which would include the shopping center and its existing businesses on 193rd Avenue, would pay off bond interest and remain in effect for 25 years, under the developer’s proposal.

Any sales and ad valorem tax created by the new businesses within the district would pay off interest on the bond.

Similar TIF districts have financed retail developments in Jenks, Bixby and Tulsa. McMahan compared the Catoosa proposal to the TIF district established for the Tulsa Hills shopping center west of the Arkansas River in Tulsa, calling both efforts aggressive approaches to promoting retail development.

Catoosa schools Superintendent Rick Kibbe told commissioners Monday he supports the district, even though school districts typically see them as competitors that take ad valorem tax otherwise diverted to schools.

“Fortunately, this is a visionary project. This is huge for our area,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to support the growth and development of our area, and I am fully behind this project.”

Commissioner Mike Helm, whose District 2 includes Catoosa, praised Kibbe for the comment.

“Not many times do you see school districts supporting this,” he said. “Your students will thank you down the road.”

The Catoosa City Council, which already voted to support the TIF district, has yet to forge a formal agreement with the developer. Councilors expect a recommendation early next week from a board created to review the project.

McMahan said the city will also wait to hear commissioners’ decision on the TIF district.

“If the county doesn’t improve this, we would have to go back and start from scratch,” he said.

He said the Cherokee Nation may buy the land and use it for some non-taxable purpose if the TIF district falls through. Industrial developers have also been eyeing the site, he said.

Catoosa city leaders must hold two public meetings two weeks apart before approving the project. That means it could be approved no earlier than the middle of next month, McMahan said.

Claremore’s 50-acre Oklahoma Plaza also included plans for a large multiplex theater that city leaders hoped would draw visitors from neighboring counties, but the project stalled when developers lost investors hurt by the economic downturn.

A new development company bought the site in September, but Claremore officials said the project will be different than original developers planned.

There have been no publicized updates since September.

 

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