SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester County is now beginning to take steps to redevelop the Oakbrook area.
On Tuesday, Deputy County Administrator Rebecca Vance said the county, along with the Town of Summerville and Dorchester School District 2, is starting to make plans for a new tax increment financing district in Oakbrook.
Tax increment financing, or TIF, districts can be created by local governments across South Carolina to use new revenue generated by increases in property tax value to finance redevelopment and infrastructure improvements in blighted areas. TIF is not a tax increase or new impact fee.
“It’s a way to fund public improvement projects in an area without having to raise taxes in the rest of the county or the town to fund those improvements,” said Rebecca Vance, Deputy County Administrator.
Other Lowcountry municipalities like Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant have created TIF districts before but this would be the first such district created by Dorchester County or the Town of Summerville.
The taxing entities that receive revenues in the area, the county, the town and DD2, have to agree to be a part of the TIF, in order to provide funding for it.
Vance said the TIF district could help revitalize the Oakbrook area.
“It’s an area that, in its heyday, had a lot of commercial development in it but has kind of declined over the years,” she said. “So, this is kind of a way to give it a shot in the arm and improve some of the public infrastructure with hopes that that improves the private infrastructure. Hopefully it encourages some of the business owners to reinvest in their properties or turnover their properties and get new investment.”
Some potential public improvements in the area could be new sidewalks, new parks and road and drainage projects.
Decades ago, Oakbrook was not developed much at all. Town Councilman Bob Jackson moved to Oakbrook in 1979 and remembers the area as woods before it experienced commercial development in the 1990s
“There was nothing here,” he said. “They built a couple grocery stores, and that profited for quite a while and that helped pay for downtown Summerville when the square wasn’t doing well. And now, the square has picked up and we have Nexton and it’s time to come back and help Oakbrook out a little bit.”
Jackson said he envisions the TIF district funding the development of a park at the town’s Bend on the Ashley property, next to the Herbert H. Jessen Public Boat Landing. He also said the district could fund an education center on the river to teach the public about its history.
The Oakbrook TIF is expected to begin in January 2020 and should last for 15 to 20 years.