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Oxnard Backs $1-Million Subsidy to Mall Builder

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trying to outmaneuver Camarillo, the Oxnard City Council on Tuesday tentatively agreed to provide up to $1 million in subsidies to the developer of a factory-outlet center on the city’s northeast side.

The council unanimously voted to craft an agreement that will allow the developer--the Carl M. Buck Building Co. of Los Angeles--to forgo the payment of building fees, a savings of about $1 million.

Coupled with earlier incentives, the developer could save up to $2 million in fees on the $30-million project.

But council members, who endorsed the agreement in concept, said the money will be well spent because the factory-outlet stores are expected to create more than 300 permanent jobs and generate an estimated $1 million annually in sales tax revenue for the city by the year 2000.

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“In view of our needs in the city, I think we need to move forward with what the developer is asking for,” said Councilman Michael Plisky. “But we have to move forward cautiously.” City officials said it will take several months before the agreement is finalized.

The developer said the subsidies became necessary after the Camarillo City Council agreed in January to return to the developer of a competing center half of the $800,000 in sales tax expected to be generated annually by that project for the next 20 years.

The 70-store Camarillo project was proposed by the Irvine-based Koll Co. and the Leonard family of Camarillo.

John Cahill, a consultant on the 45-store Oxnard project, said Buck was having trouble hooking prospective tenants.

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“We still have out there the perception that the Camarillo project has a lot of money to play with to make good leases,” Cahill said. “All we’re asking for is parity.”

The city has agreed to use part of the sales tax generated by the outlet mall project to pay for traffic improvements, water, sewage and air pollution control. Those services normally are funded by building fees paid by the developer.

Scrambling to lure customers from throughout the region, Oxnard and Camarillo officials have been pushing competing plans to develop factory outlet malls that would open by the end of 1993.

Supporters of each mall proposal have said they are not confident that the region can support two malls and stressed the importance of being the first to break ground.

“Our project is still on track to open by the end of the year,” said Steve Kinney, Oxnard’s economic development director. “I would say we’re in the lead.”

The 284,000-square-foot Oxnard center has been approved for 27 acres south of the Ventura Freeway between Rice and Rose avenues.

The project is to be built in two phases, with the initial 150,000 square feet projected to open by the end of this year.

The mall is slated for an area in which city officials have approved a long line of high-volume stores expected to draw customers from throughout the region.

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Factory outlet centers--generally occupied by brand-name manufacturers selling their wares at a discount--have become popular tourist attractions in recent years.

There are about 250 outlet malls nationwide, with another 130 in the planning stages.


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