Austin’s plans to redevelop the struggling Oak Park Mall are off.
Last week, the Austin Port Authority terminated a purchase agreement for the property, halting the city’s deal to buy the mall and raze half of it so a huge Hy-Vee grocery store could move in.
That agreement, announced in October, included contingencies, including amending lease and occupancy agreements with some of the mall’s remaining tenants, said Craig Byram, city attorney. The deadline for getting those changes was Feb. 13, and the mall’s owners declined to give an extension, he said.
If the port authority hadn’t canceled the purchase, it risked “essentially inherit[ing] the mall in its present condition without the legal right to redevelop it,” Byram said.
The Hormel Foundation had granted the city $3.2 million to buy the property — with the idea that Hy-Vee would then purchase the site, build its store and donate the bare land back to the city.
The city has not abandoned that plan to rethink the property and have Hy-Vee build a 60,000- to 90,000-square-foot store there. But “the ultimate fate of this project is simply in the hands of the mall,” Byram said.