Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Signs Point to Project 180 Detour: Officials Say Downtown OKC Plans Must Be Downsized

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Signs Point to Project 180 Detour: Officials Say Downtown OKC Plans Must Be Downsized

Article excerpt

Project 180 downtown streetscaping plans must be reduced to fit a budget that's $10 million less than originally expected due to cost adjustments in the construction of Devon Energy headquarters, Oklahoma City officials said Tuesday.

The difference between projections of Devon's costs and actual costs will require that the municipal government put off certain downtown streets for an indeterminate period, although those areas will not be cut entirely from the larger Project 180 package, City Engineer Eric Wenger said. Nor has Devon been blamed for the lesser figure, he said.

"We've looked at this entire thing from the beginning as something of a partnership (with Devon), and we looked to a third party to provide an estimate on that and the third party missed it," he said. "There's really no finger to point.

"They thought their (Devon tower) project was going to cost $800 million. But being good businessmen like the rest of us, they went out to find the best deal on their goods and services," he said. "And the economy got involved, too. ... We'll adjust our budget accordingly."

Project 180 is a downtown infrastructure renovation project to which that City Hall officials agreed as Devon Energy approached the construction of a 50-floor corporate tower near the Myriad Botanical Gardens about two years ago. The $145.7 million project was envisioned as a face-lift of about 180 acres of streets, light fixtures, benches, signs and sidewalks and funded via a tax increment finance district around the construction of the Devon tower. Work has been divided into smaller packages and is expected to be completed over the next three years.

The area encompass most of the space from NW Sixth Street to SW Second Street and from Lee Avenue to EK Gaylord. But on Tuesday City Council members were told that some of the Project 180 work won't be completed within the original time frame for lack of money, leaving Gaylord and some small portions on the east side of downtown near the railroad tracks to be delayed until other funding is identified. Those streets will still be done someday, but deadlines are impossible to pin down, Wenger said.

The concept behind a tax increment finance district is that additional tax revenues for infrastructure improvements are identified in advance of the expected economic development impact for those areas. …

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