OKLAHOMA CITY — As construction costs and interest rates rise, developers of several commercial and residential projects are seeking financial assistance from the city.
Developers presented plans ranging from affordable housing to a downtown grocery store to city council last week, along with their requests for funding.
“It’s hard not to marvel at the list of developments that have just been presented to us,” said Mayor David Holt. “It’s truly remarkable and just a testament to how far this city has come.”
Public hearings and final review of applications are scheduled for September 27. The stipends were approved by the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust.
The largest recommended allocation is up to $16 million in tax increment funding for underground infrastructure to support the Strawberry Fields project, an urban mixed-use neighborhood just west of Scissortail Park.
Water, sewer, storm sewer infrastructure and the relocation of an NGO gas line are required. The request is that Strawberry Fields be reimbursed by the TIF allowance for the cost of building the infrastructure.
COalign Group’s Cathy O’Connor said the master plan estimates $1.5 billion in investment in the region, with an estimated total increase of around $262 million.
“We estimate that the total investment for Phase I alone is approximately $104 million and the annual increase would be $1.2 million, which would more than meet this initial allocation of $16 million. “, O’Connor said.
The area—generally bounded by Oklahoma City Boulevard to the north, Hudson Avenue to the east, SW 7th Street to the south, and Shartel Avenue to the west—is to be developed in three phases. Strawberry Fields owns a significant portion of the property, but not all of it, so other owners will also benefit from the improvements, O’Connor said.
Planned projects for the first phase include The Lucy, a five-story office building at SW 3rd and Walker Avenue, which will be approximately 55,000 square feet and cost $25 million.
The Marketplace at SW 3rd and Lee Avenue involves the renovation of existing buildings as well as new construction at an estimated cost of $7 million. It will primarily be retail and restaurant space.
Ten condominium units are planned at SW 6th and Dewey Avenue at an estimated project cost of $11 million.
The Abbey, a $61 million multi-family residential development between SW 6th and SW 7th in Lee, will have 266 units. The goal is for 20% to be workforce housing for people earning 80% of the region’s median income, O’Connor said.
Councilor JoBeth Hamon said she wanted to find a way to ensure “genuinely affordable housing… My concern is that we really don’t see this area as real community development,” she said.
O’Connor said it will be easier for developers to build affordable units in the west and south of the area.
“It’s a problem everywhere, it’s not just in Oklahoma City or even just downtown,” she said. “It is getting more and more difficult. As interest rates and construction prices rise, it becomes more difficult to complete affordable housing projects.
TWG Development is seeking a $2 million loan to build affordable housing just east of the OKC fairgrounds for residents up to 60% of the area’s median income.
Fairground Flats will be a 216-unit development with a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and amenities including a swimming pool, playground, fitness center, and business center, Marisa Conaster said, director of development at TWG. The total capital investment is expected to be $47 million.
“There’s a gap of about $2 million that we really need to close to make this project as successful as possible,” Conaster said.
The $2 million loan — from bond proceeds intended to support affordable housing projects — would be canceled once certain obligations under the economic development agreement are met.
The historic Chevrolet Motor Co. building at NW 6th Street and Broadway will become The Nova, a mixed-use development that includes a 19,000 square foot grocery store and lofts.
“We propose to bring a full-service grocery experience to Auto Alley. We are partnering with Urban Agrarian to do this, and they will take up about half of the square footage (on the first floor),” development partner Brandon Lodge said.
The other half will be leased to individual tenants such as a bakery, cafes, counter service restaurants and a full bar. All services will be in an open design, Lodge said.
“Grocery stores operate on extremely thin margins. It’s very challenging, and so this project is really built around that idea and how can we make it a sustainable business and a viable full grocery store for downtown Oklahoma City,” he said.
The second and third floors will have 20 residential lofts. A building to the north will be a parking garage that will service these units. A greenhouse above the garage will hydroponically grow leafy greens, tomatoes and cucumbers that will be sold at the grocery store and other sites, Lodge said.
The project will cost around $30 million. The developers are asking to be reimbursed for up to $765,000 of the ad valorem tax increase they pay.
JRB Citizen LLC is seeking nearly $1.1 million in TIF funding for the construction of a 12-story mixed-use tower to be built on the northeast corner of Robinson Avenue and NW 5th Street across from the National Memorial from Oklahoma City.
The 160,000 square foot skyscraper will be primarily office space, but will feature a mix of retail, dining and hospitality on the first three floors and the lobby.
Project spokesman Sean Donahue said 75% of the building is pre-released and grand opening is scheduled for November or December. The project is currently expected to cost $70 million.
“Everything has exceeded our projections over the past few months,” Donahue said. “The final piece of the puzzle to help us get…stabilizing the project and getting it in place for long-term success is what we’re talking about today, which is a two-year partial property tax abatement. of approximately $1,080,000.”