Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Council Approves Bass Pro Shops Deal

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Council Approves Bass Pro Shops Deal

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City officials approved a financing package Tuesday that will bring Bass Pro Shops to Bricktown next year in a deal city officials hope will lure hundreds of thousands of tourists to the downtown area.
In a 6-to-2 vote, the city council agreed to pay $17.2 million to construct a building and make other improvements at the east end of Bricktown. The building would be leased to the sporting goods retailer for at least 20 years and anchor the outer edge of the city's riverwalk.
Oklahoma City Councilmen Jerry Foshee of Ward 5 and Brent Rinehart of Ward 4 both voted against the measure, saying the deal was unfair to area businesses that would compete with Bass Pro Shops. But a majority of council members approved the deal.
"There's a time for government to serve as a catalyst to make things happen," Mayor Kirk Humphreys told the council moments before the vote. "From a financial point of view, this thing is a slam dunk, no-brainer for Oklahoma City."
Under the terms of the deal worked out between the city and Bass Pro Shops, Oklahoma City would borrow from its reserve use-tax funds to pay $17.2 million to build a building and provide 722 parking spaces. The building would then be leased to Bass Pro Outdoor World for at least 20 years, with an option for the retailer to extend that lease for up to another 30 years.
Rent paid by Bass Pro Shops to the city and expected increases in city tax revenue as a result of the development would be used to pay back the funds over 14 years, according to the agreement.
The agreement also would require that Bass Pro Shops not build another store within 75 miles of the Oklahoma City store.
"This is a true public-private partnership," City Finance Director Cathy O'Connor told the council.
O'Connor said the Bass Pro Shops project would generate $24.6 million in direct revenue for the city and $129.9 million in indirect revenue over the 20-year initial lease agreement.
The development also is expected to create 920 permanent jobs and 335 construction jobs, she said, citing a report by St. Louis-based consultant Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets.
Opposition to the Bass Pro Shops deal Tuesday came from several area business owners, who argued that city support for the development and the favorable lease terms are unfair to other businesses.
David Gochman, president of Katy, Texas-based Academy Sports & Outdoors, said the deal gives an unfair advantage to his competitor. Gochman owns three stores in the Oklahoma City area and plans to develop another on the south side of Oklahoma City. In Oklahoma City, his stores employ about 225 people.
"I think this is a strange deal," he said. "Obviously it's not the best deal for my company, and I think longer-term, it's not the best deal for Oklahoma City."
Opponents drew attention to terms of the city agreement with Bass Pro Shops, which includes $8 million in city-funded tenant improvements for the proposed 110,000- square-foot store and a favorable below-market lease rate for the building. …

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