McAlester shops attract thousands of visitors

The Shops at McAlester Highway mall in McAlester already attracts thousands of visitors, with a number of buildings still under construction or in the planning stages.

“During the month of August, we had 90,000 visits,” said Town of McAlester Economic Development Manager Adam White. “This is the best mall within 50 miles of McAlester.”

The Town of McAlester has benefited in many ways from the addition of the McAlester Center shops.

“About 150 people have been hired so far at wages above the Pittsburg County average wage,” White said. “It’s a win for us.”

This number is expected to increase as more businesses open on the site.

“Once all buildings are open, we expect over 200 store jobs,” White said.

Among the next big openings will be the opening of Chick-fil-A, slated for October, White said. He said the restaurant is creating about 40 jobs in McAlester. It is also expected to attract more freeway traffic that would otherwise have passed through McAlester. When it opens, it will be the only Chick-fil-A along the highway between Muskogee and North Texas, White said.

Other businesses being built on the site include Ollie’s, which retails clearance merchandise and excess inventory from other stores; Five Below, where most items are $5 or less, with a smaller amount of offerings ranging from $6 to $25. Construction of Jiffy Lube has struggled due to supply shortages, city officials said, but is expected to move forward once the necessary materials arrive.

McAlester community development manager Jayme Clifton said concrete is expected to be poured soon for the plinth that will house The Bank NA’s new stores in McAlester.

Five Below is almost ready for a certificate of occupancy inspection by the city of McAlester, which must be passed before a building can be certified as safe for people to occupy, she said.

McAlester’s stores are at the intersection of Fourteenth Street and US Highway 69, also known as the George Nigh Highway, where the highway passes through McAlester. It opened in stages, with Starbucks being the first business to open at the site in March, followed by Burkes Outlet, Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Ross and Rack Room shoes.

Plans for a multi-tenant building adjacent to Starbucks call for an 1,800 square foot Tropical Smoothie and a 2,500 square foot T-Mobile, with room for two additional tenants.

TIF AGREEMENT

After several false starts, the Shops at McAlester project took off after developer Burk Collins of Burk Collins & Co. got involved.

Collins agreed to build the freeway mall at his own expense under a tax increment financing agreement, known as TIF, with the McAlester City Council and Pittsburg County Commissioners. .

The deal called for Burke Collins & Company to get 90% of the city and county’s share of sales taxes on the site for five years or until it receives $5.5 million, depending on the first eventuality.

Those who shop in McAlester pay a full 10% sales tax rate or a dime on the dollar — but only 4% of that 10% sales tax total goes to the town of McAlester.

Another 1.5% goes to Pittsburg County, while the remaining 4.5% is state sales tax. Collins receives no share of the 4.5% state sales tax on the Shops at McAlester site — but the TIF agreement gives her 90% of the city and county stock collected from McAlester stores.

TOWN OF MCALESTER

An analysis by the City of McAlester’s Chief Financial Officer, Sherri Swift, of the city’s sales taxes collected from McAlester stores for the months of May, June, July and August shows the following figures:

• May — The Oklahoma Tax Commission collected a total of $11,070.33 in municipal sales taxes from Shops at McAlester for the month. This breaks down to a reimbursement of $9,963.30 for the developer’s 90% reduction, with the city’s 10% share amounting to $1,107.03.

• June — OTC collected $53,126.95 in city sales tax from the Shops at McAlester site. Burk Collins & Company’s 90% totals $47,814.26, the city’s 10% totals $5,312.69.

• July — With the OTC collecting $40,046.30 in city sales taxes from McAlester stores, Collins should receive $36,041.67 as a 90% reduction, while the city’s 10% share s amounts to $4,004.63.

• August — For the month of August, Shops at McAlester recorded its best month yet, with the city’s total sales tax of $62,772.88. Collins’ 90% share totaled $56,495.59, with the city’s 10% share totaling $6,277.29.

When the four months are added together, the total amount of sales taxes the Town of McAlester collected during that period from Shops at McAlester breaks down as follows:

• Total amount of sales tax collected by the Town of McAlester from McAlester stores from May to August 2022: $167,016.46

• The 90% to be repaid to Burke Collins and Company from this four month period — $150,314.82.

• The 10% that goes to the city from May to August — $16,701.64.

PITTSBURG COUNTY

In addition, the money to be paid to Burk Collins and Company under the TIF deal includes Pittsburg County’s 1.5% share of sales tax collected from McAlester’s stores.

Pittsburg County Treasurer Jennifer Hackler provided a breakdown of the county share collected from McAlester stores, also from May through August 2022.

• May — The Oklahoma Tax Commission collected $4,435.06 in total sales tax from Shops at McAlester on behalf of Pittsburg County. Collins’ 90% reduction amounts to $3,991.55, with the county’s remaining 10% totaling $443.51.

• June — The total collected by the CTA on McAlester’s 1.5% share of stores in the county was $19,941.49. Collins & Company’s 90% reimbursement is $17,947.34, with the county’s 10% share being $1,994.15.

• July — The portion of Pittsburg County sales tax collected from McAlester stores was $14,973.95. The 90% reimbursement of this amount to the developer is $13,476.56, with the remaining 10% from the county totaling $1,497.39.

• August – Pittsburg County had $23,554.82 as its share of sales tax collected from McAlester’s stores. The developer’s 90% reimbursement amounted to $21,199.34, with the county’s 10% share amounting to $2,355.48.

When the four months are added, the total amount of Pittsburg County sales tax collected during this period from Shops at McAlester breaks down as follows:

• Total amount of Pittsburg County sales tax collected at McAlester stores from May through August 2022: $62,905.32.

• 90% of the Pittsburg County total to be repaid to Burke Collins & Company from this four month period — $56,614.79.

• The remaining 10% of the county total that goes to Pittsburgh County from May through August — $6,290.53.

CITY AND COUNTY TOTALS

When the $167,016.46 in sales taxes collected on behalf of the city from Shops at McAlester are added to the $62,905.32 collected on behalf of the county from May through August, the two amounts total $229,921.46.

Burk Collins & Company’s share of the 90% refund of $150,314.82 reflecting 90% of the money collected on behalf of the Town of McAlester from McAlester stores from May through August, is in addition to its refund of 90% of the $56,614.79 collected on behalf of Pittsburg County during the same period totals $206,929.61.

This $206,929.61 represents the amount Burk Collins and Company is to be paid pursuant to the combined City and County of Pittsburgh TIF agreement for the four-month period spanning May through August 2022.

Swift, the city of McAlester’s chief financial officer, said the TIF deal called for the payment to be made on the one-year anniversary of the first sale of the first business to open at Shops of McAlester — and that would be Starbucks. The city plans to make its first payment in March 2023, which will cover the 12-month period since Starbucks opened in March 2022, Swift said.

The Shops at McAlester project has encountered some challenges along the way, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide supply shortages.

Seeing the first stores open on the site has been a long process for the town of McAlester, which began work on developing a new mall on the freeway several years ago. Some of the initial attempts by other potential developers didn’t work.

Things finally started moving forward when Burk Collins of Burk Collins & Company arrived about four years ago.

Collins took on the project under a tax increment financing agreement with the McAlester City Council and Pittsburgh Country Commissioners. Initial details were worked out through the McAlester Area Southside Reinvestment Committee, also known as the Highway TIF Committee, which is made up of representatives from entities that benefit from city and county tax collections.

Several delays occurred during the construction process, some attributed to disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and others to supply shortages, but the project continued to move forward.

Today already attracts the aforementioned thousands of visitors each month – a number that is expected to increase as each new business opens.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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