Bartlesville Hopes To Turn Aging Shopping Center Into Economic Asset
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Development projects could help people in Bartlesville get more funding down the road for schools, the city and the county.
City leaders hope to use a Tax Increment Finance – or TIF – to make it all happen.
A TIF is where the government borrows money to invest in development - and the Eastland Shopping Center is the focus in Bartlesville.
For 50 years, the center has been a staple, but it needs a lot to hold it together.
“It’s been somewhat on a state of decline,” said City Councilor Alan Gengtes.
The hope is to turn the aging center into an economic asset; Gengtes said the fastest and most efficient way to do that is to implement a TIF.
Under a TIF, the government borrows money to invest in development; the city will need about $450,000.
Gengtes said, "It's such a good tool. It doesn't affect the current tax base, it pays for itself, essentially, through the increase in sales tax and property tax, and, most importantly, there's the businesses that go in."
The money would improve the intersection of Eastland Parkway at Highway 75 by adding turn lanes.
The general public will not see an increase in taxes. The Eastland shopping business owners, however, would see some of their taxes diverted to pay off the TIF.
"If we don't do the TIF then any further development could not occur," Gengtes said.
Only when the road is improved could new shopping and restaurants come in, in turn, increasing the long-term tax for the city, schools and county.
Gengtes said, "To spur on that kind of growth makes the town a better place to live."
The city councilor said it could take roughly 10 years to pay off the TIF.
Short-term things would stay the same, but long-term it could mean big things.
The city council plans to vote on the measure May 15.