New increment financing proposed for innovation district (NewsOK)

A new tax increment financing district is being proposed as part of ongoing talks to create an innovation district just east of downtown Oklahoma City.

The proposal for creation of a new tax increment financing district east of Interstate 235 between NE 13 and NE 4 also includes two smaller “sub-districts” that only would be started with pending development.

The sub-districts include the Chaparral apartments, a Section 8 public housing project at 1301 N Stiles built in 1984 and recently sold to a limited liability company registered at the address of the Presbyterian Health Foundation.

The presentation of the proposed new TIF district to the Oklahoma City Council coincided with an update by a representative of the Brookings Institution, which is working with the Project for Public Spaces on how to turn the cluster of hospitals, research organizations, bio-tech and technology firms east of downtown into an area that can continue to compete for talent and investment.


Cathy O'Connor, president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, told the city council the existing TIF district helped launch a research park that is now part of the OU medical campus and helped fund infrastructure as part of the new GE Global Oil & Gas Research Center.

“This is about how can we better advance high tech, companies and entrepreneurship in Oklahoma City,” O'Connor said. “The innovation district takes this one step further and focuses on the creation of relationships, opportunities for collaboration, connectivity and a clustering that really makes those economic development efforts more successful.”

The proposed No. 11 TIF district would start with a $52 million budget that would include $17 million for commercialization of research and technology, $9 million for place-making, $3 million for implementation, $5 million for supporting development and $18 million for enhanced education. Specific goals, she said, will include working with Oklahoma City Public Schools and Metro Technology Centersx to promote educational and training opportunities in the area.


The Brookings Institute/Project for Public Spaces study, meanwhile, is due for completion in late 2017. Jennifer Vey with the Brookings Institution told an audience on Tuesday more than 65 people have been interviewed and research and visits are ongoing.

“We did a lot of research on what is this district and what is this place all about,” Vey said.

The consultants continue to suggest the innovation district can include Automobile Alley, which has the restaurants, shops, housing and mixed-use developments that are missing east of I-235. The districts are separated by a six-lane-wide Lincoln Boulevard, a busy highway spanned by bridges with narrow sidewalks, and a busy railway line.

“This is about innovation district assets and quality of place,” Vey said. “Automobile Alley brings a lot of amenities. We want to look at how they can connect better. These areas are actually closer together though they don't feel closer together.”


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