OXFORD — Renovation, reconstruction and rebranding will soon take place at the Quintard Mall in Oxford, after the City Council agreed to help fund the redevelopment project at its Thursday night meeting.
According to John Mulherin, vice president of government relations for Hull Property Group, residents can expect to see construction start sometime in the summer. He said work to prepare for construction at the site is already underway, with demolition, engineering and architectural efforts lined up.
“We need to make sure we don’t interfere with holiday sales,” Mulherin said. “We own 32 malls across the country and we’ve done this in 20 of those properties, so renovation work is something we’re comfortable with.”
He said interior renovation will start first, and exterior demolition will follow after.
“We’ve never sold a mall, so we’re not going to buy it and try to flip it,” Mulherin said. “We believe in it.”
He told council members after the meeting that interior renovations will include higher ceilings, brighter colors to emphasize volume of space and possible rebranding to be named simply “Oxford Mall.”
The city agreed to make payments to Hull totaling as much as $16.5 million over a period as long as 25 years from revenue generated at the mall.
Hull is an Augusta, Ga.-based firm that bought the mall in 2017 for $6.7 million. That sale didn’t include Dillard’s, AmStar Cinemas or the Sears building, which Oxford had bought earlier that year for $1.5 million.
The mall opened in 1970 with 16 businesses and 330,000 square feet of space before it was expanded, according to an account from that time.
During its work session, the council discussed a business proposal to open a CBD oil store heard during its previous work session. Mayor Alton Craft said the local and state district attorneys had some concerns over the possible business, “to the point I think they don’t think it’s legal,” Craft said.
“At this time we’re not doing it until the (police) chief and district attorneys tell me otherwise,” Craft said.
The council also discussed a Christmas light show to be held at Oxford Lake Park in conjunction with an event planning company called Fun Guy Events, according to Lamar Carter, marketing coordinator with the city. The project has an estimated cost of $485,000, but the city can perform some of the work involved and save about $100,000, he said.
The light show would be set on the road that traces the lake’s outline. The route is a little less than a 1.5 miles, according to Carter.
Some of the cost includes electrical infrastructure that wouldn’t be incurred if the city continues hosting the event, according to Craft. He said the city would most likely break even the first year with an estimated 47,000 visitors, and start generating revenue afterward.
During the meeting in its chamber, the council also:
— Approved a resolution supporting House Bill 61, which would allow city employees to switch from Tier II to Tier I retirement benefits if the city passes a resolution to allow it. The council also approved a resolution supporting House Resolution 530, called the “Accelerating Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019.”
— Accepted bids for two Ford F-150 trucks from Sunny King Ford, one listed as a super cab styleside and the other as a crew cab four-by-four. The first cost $25,779.91 and the other cost $38,958.00.
— Appropriated $2,610 for six city limits signs. Council President Chris Spurlin said during the work session that possible locations include entrances to Oxford on U.S. 431, Alabama 179 and U.S. 78.