The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Monday afternoon is likely to take up again the issuance of $4 million in bonds to pay for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension to accommodate expansion of Epps Bridge Centre.
The item isn’t on the agenda for the IDA, but County Attorney Daniel Haygood told the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that he planned to bring the item to the Authority for consideration at its meeting on Monday.
The possibility that the IDA might sell the bonds for construction of the new road that will serve as an entrance to Phase II of Epps Bridge Centre was first presented to the Authority at its last meeting on Jan. 11.
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis had hinted at that possibility on Jan. 8, when the Board approved a $3.35 million contract with Simpson Trucking and Grading Company of Gainesville for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension.
Davis said at that meeting that paying for the costs of the roadway was “yet to be negotiated or discussed” with the county’s finance department, the IDA and others. Commissioner John Daniell said the cost was “something the county can handle.”
Haygood told the Commission that South State, a regional bank with offices in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, would be buying the bonds with an interest rate of 2.358 percent.
The actual issuance would be for $4,090,000, with an annual payment of “slightly under” $500,000 for 10 years. The bonds would have no penalty for prepayment, Haygood said, reflected in the video below.
The county would be rolling together the costs of construction of the new roadway and for refinancing of some of the county’s debt for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County to lower the costs of that debt.
Commissioner Daniell has projected that the expanded Epps Bridge Centre will generate, as a conservative estimate, about $650,000 annually in property and sales tax revenue for the county’s general fund.
I asked Daniell following the Jan. 8 meeting to provide details of his calculations about the county’s ability to manage the costs and his statement that “the return on investment calculated here is very strong” and has “a very quick turnaround.”
We met on Jan. 30 to review those costs and discussed those estimates again in a telephone conversation on Wednesday (Feb. 3).
Daniell estimated that the new shopping center will be assessed at just more than $35 million, based on a 370,000 square footage figure, generating $94,005 per year in property taxes for the county.
He estimated sales tax revenue from the center based on the county’s 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax of $555,000 per year, for a total of $649,005 in property and sales tax revenue for the county’s general fund.
Daniell estimates that the expanded center will generate $794,020 per year in property and sales tax revenue for the county’s schools and $555,000 for the county through its 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Daniell said he was not considering that Costco were a tenant for the new shopping center in his calculations. In fact, he refused to say that Costco was even a possibility, though others have acknowledged that possibility.
He said his estimates would be much higher if Costco were a tenant, with county annual sales tax and property tax at more than $1.1 million, rather than the $649,000 figure.
Daniell also said the revenue stream would begin rather quickly, and that his estimates were not based on build-out of the center.
He said that he was assuming in his calculations only two major anchor tenants–not including Costco–of the sort that have been mentioned for the new center and believed those tenants would come to the center rather quickly.
Costco is a membership-only warehouse club headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, near Seattle.
The rezone concept plan submitted to the county for Epps Bridge Centre II shows 12 buildings in addition to the large anchor for a total of just less than 372,000 square feet spread across 51 acres.
The county is expecting that Parkway Boulevard Extension will be open by September of this year.
The three-lane road will run about two-thirds of a mile from the current terminus of Parkway Boulevard just west of Kohl’s department store to opposite an existing entrance to Epps Bridge Centre just east of the Vitamin Shoppe and Sleep Number.
The rezone request for the shopping center is scheduled to be before the Oconee County Planning Commission on Feb. 15 and the Board of Commissioners on March 1. The expectation is that it will take three years before construction is completed.
The county rezoned the property for the existing Epps Bridge Centre in late 2008, just before the collapse of the national economy, and it was four years later before the first permit for the shopping center was issued.
Developer Frank Bishop of Atlanta waited until the Oconee Connector was completed by the state before developing the mall.
The square footage approved for the existing mall is 486,241, with about 400,000 square feet in the mall’s core and the remainder in outparcels.
The last major tenants moved to the shopping center late last year.
Monday’s Meeting And Video
The agenda for the IDA for Monday does not list the bond sales as an item, but it could be discussed at the front of the meeting during the financial report.
IDA Chairman Rick Waller also might bring up the bond during his chair’s report, which is scheduled as the fifth item on the agenda.
The IDA meets at 4 p.m. in the Grand Jury Room of the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
The video clip below is of the full discussion of the bond sales by Haygood at the meeting of the BOC last week. The clip above was taken from this slightly longer recording.