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City Council approves plan aimed at providing housing assistance in north Tulsa

City Council approves plan aimed at providing housing assistance in north Tulsa

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City councilors approved a program Wednesday that is expected to provide more than $40 million for housing assistance, school support and other enhancements in the neighborhoods surrounding the Peoria-Mohawk Business Park in north Tulsa.

The Peoria-Mohawk Project Plan comprises four tax increment finance districts within the business park that are expected to raise $42.6 million in property tax revenue over the next 25 to 35 years.

Typically, the city uses TIF funds to assist developers with their projects and pay for public infrastructure.

The plan approved Wednesday instead calls for directing the bulk of the funding to housing assistance programs for the approximately 5,000 property owners in the four census tracts bordering the 120-acre business park at 36th Street North and Peoria Avenue.

“It’s exciting to have the business park there, but it’s also exciting to be able to leverage it to improve even more area around it,” said Jim Coles, the city’s director of economic development.

Nearly $35 million will be dedicated to housing assistance programs, with Tulsa Public Schools receiving $4.2 million over the life of the program and $1.83 million going to the Flat Rock Creek Urban Wilderness Area. The remaining $1.75 million will cover administrative costs.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to address the lack of adequate and affordable housing that we have in District 1,” said City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper. “And this is a committed funding source to do just that.”

The housing component of the plan will provide funding to rehabilitate single-family homes, clear titles and assist residents with down payments. The plan also funds a voluntary demolition program for homeowners whose properties are unsound and a development assistance program for vacant residential properties.

“That is the one where you as an individual can buy a lot and build a home on it and we would help you offset some of the costs there,” Coles said. “Certainly a developer that wants to take on a larger piece of vacant single-family land in the area and do five or 10 single-family homes, we can help them, too, but it’s not specifically targeted at developers.”

Coles said the 10% of the TIF revenue Tulsa Public Schools receives typically funds projects throughout the school district. But the Peoria-Mohawk Project Plan will work differently, with all of the funds to be spent at Hawthorne and Whitman elementary schools, which are in the area.

The hope, Coles said, is that the funds will help students get off to an even “better start and be candidates to work at the business park or just be successful.”

The council’s action Wednesday activated just one of the four TIF districts — the one where Muncie Power Products is building a facility. The TIF is expected to raise $12.6 million. The city has 10 years to activate the remaining TIFs.

The TIFs set a base assessed value on a property. For the life of the TIF, taxing entities such as schools and libraries continue to receive property taxes based on the original property value.

As development of the land proceeds and the value of it increases, the city captures the additional property taxes and distributes it according to its project plan. When the TIF expires, all future property tax goes to the taxing entities.

Coles said the city had the opportunity to reinvest the TIF funds into the community because the developer assistance and infrastructure needs for the business park were already covered. The George Kaiser Family Foundation donated the land for the park, and Tulsa voters approved $10 million for infrastructure as part of the Vision Tulsa sales tax package.

“We wanted to see if we could sort of recycle the dollars back into the neighborhood, so the TIF was sort of the logical way you do that,” Coles said.

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