NORMAN — Construction of Legacy Park in north Norman could begin by late August or early September.
The large public park is designed to be the focal point of the University North Park Addition, a tax increment financing district east of Interstate 35 on 24th Avenue NW, between Robinson Street and Tecumseh Road.
In a 7-2 vote Tuesday, city council members approved a financial agreement with the developers that paves the way for construction to begin. Councilmen Tom Kovach and Roger Gallagher voted against it.
According to the agreement, nearly $8 million of debt authorization is available to build Legacy Park and the Legacy Park Drive and 24th Avenue intersection. Revenue to pay the debt comes from a portion of the sales tax collected in the district and a portion of the district's annual property tax.
Terms of the agreement call for developers to deed about seven acres to the city once a final plat is approved. A design by Scott Howard of Howard-Fairbairn Site Design has been approved by the city. The park will feature a small, man-made lake, amphitheater, public art, walks and an area where restaurants can be built around the lake.
Development of the park is “the key” to the long-range success of the northside retail district, Councilman Jim Griffith said.
“The development of the TIF district has not been spectacular yet, but the park is the tipping point, and we are ready for it. If we build the park then the growth of the district will occur,” he said.
In a past financial agreement, the developers committed to building a minimum of 250,000 square feet of “high-end” retail space on the east side of 24th Avenue NW by 2016, or face paying penalties of about $5.9 million to the city.
Under the newest agreement, the deadline for penalties has been extended to 2018, and developers will be given credit for a 109,000-square-foot Crest store that will be built within the district but outside the high-end Village Center portion.