Unexpected expenses at Oxford Commons may add $3.3M to cost
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Feb 21, 2013 | 10028 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Work continues Thursday at Oxford Commons. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Work continues Thursday at Oxford Commons. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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Oxford’s Commercial Development Authority next week will discuss a potential $3.3 million in unexpected expenses at the Oxford Commons retail complex, which could bring the city’s cost for the center to more than $10 million.

The $3.3 million figure was included in a notice of a meeting of the CDA board planned for Tuesday.

It was unclear Thursday whether the expenses are related to a sinkhole found at the retail complex in November several hundred feet from the soon-to-open Publix supermarket.

That discovery prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop construction of retail businesses at Oxford Commons nearest the sinkhole. The corps issued building permits and oversees the project because it is located on wetlands.

Attempts Thursday to reach Oxford Mayor Leon Smith and Fred Denney, Oxford’s project manager, were unsuccessful.

When asked by phone Thursday what the $3.3 million would pay for, CDA board member Mike Watts referred questions to the board chairman.

Dwight Rice, the former chairman, resigned from the board earlier this month. When asked who the current chairman is, Watts said he was not sure, but that “It’s not me.”

Asked if the $3.3 million was to pay for the repair of the sinkhole, Eric Brewer with WR Oxford, the company developing the retail complex, said by phone Thursday that he was “not at liberty to talk about it right now.”

The CDA is an independent board appointed by the City Council that uses a combination of taxpayer money, borrowed money and funds from the sale of public property to help entice the development of commercial properties.

In September 2011, the Oxford City Council approved a $7.49 million bond for site prep work at Oxford Commons, funneling the money through the CDA to pay for grading, paving, and to install water and sewer lines.

If the $3.3 million is to be paid by the CDA, it would push the city’s cost for the project to more than $10 million.

City Councilman Mike Henderson said in January that the developer may also share in the cost of the sinkhole’s repair.

Attempts to reach Henderson on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The CDA is to meet Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Oxford City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

Editor's Note: This article has been modified to correct an error in the name of the CDA board member quoted in the story. The board member is Mike Watts

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