Local city officials are starting 2016 with a renewed focus on development intended to strengthen their cities’ tax revenue and identities for years to come.
At the center of those plans are large undeveloped parcels that are prime for new developments.
This year Grapevine city officials are continuing to place an emphasis on attracting development to the city’s last and biggest commercial parcel, a 185-acre tract located near Grapevine Mills.
Although the city of Colleyville has very few large tracts left, there is a little more than 60 acres at the entrance of the city where city officials hope to build a northern gateway that contains new commercial development.
With about 85 percent of the city of Southlake built out, there is not much land left in the city to develop. However, the city does have a bulk of developer-owned land along SH 114 and in Southlake Town Square that could see development this year.
A prime opportunity to guide the future economic development in the city can be found on the tract of land dubbed the Palmeiro Tract as it was purchased by the city from former Texas Rangers baseball player Rafael Palmeiro in 2013.
Mayor William D. Tate said the tract was purchased to create and attract businesses that will pay the most revenue to the city in terms of taxes.
“It’s a key tract to create high energy and high revenue for the city,” he said. “We are getting close to build-out. It’s important for us to attract those kind of developments because when you get to build-out and you don’t have new growth …you have to be able to sustain the revenue stream to support all of your city services without raising taxes.”
In 2015 the city was able to complete a deal with Kubota Tractor Corp. to relocate its headquarters from California to the tract of land.
Tate said the city could see another deal for the Palmeiro Tract completed with Mercedes-Benz for a distribution/training facility early this year.
“We have a contract with Seefried Properties, who is trying to locate a facility for Mercedes-Benz,” he said. “[The contract] has not closed yet, but the city of Grapevine has finished its requirements. Assuming it does [go through], it will be another nice facility to go along with Kubota. It will bring new jobs, and plus they will train about 150 people a week who will use the hotel rooms and restaurants.”
Grapevine Economic Development Director Bob Farley said the city is currently being looked at by four 300-room hotels. He said it is possible that each of the hotels come to the city.
“The pipeline of projects for this year looks deeper than the pipeline looked going into last year,” he said. “We remain flexible on what type of developments we want to bring in. If we see a high-quality opportunity, we are going to go after it. The [potential project] list this year is about three times longer than what the list was last year.”
The city also has undeveloped land near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and along SH 360 that could see some development this year. However, Tate said with those tracts being close to the airport they have had a hard time getting developed.
“We have a consultant looking at each of those tracts to determine what problems there are for the development of these tracts and why it hasn’t already developed,” he said. “[We’re also looking at] what the highest and best use for those tracts would be, and when we get all that information together then we can try and market all of that land.”
Tate said the consultant will have an analysis-ready sometime early this year.
Colleyville has few land tracts left in the city that can be commercially developed, as most of the undeveloped tracts are privately owned or zoned for other uses.
“The largest tract of undeveloped land is the 62.7 acres at the city’s northern gateway,” Colleyville Mayor David Kelly said. “There are also a couple of tracts left on [SH] 121 and Precinct Line; both are generally zoned for commercial uses.”
Colleyville Economic Development Director Marty Wieder said the city seeks to bring a mix of shopping and dining options to those tracts.
“Most of the development that happens here is small to mid-size office, retail, restaurants and grocery stores,” he said. “We look to attract the best type of commercial development possible that is a good fit for Colleyville. Our citizens have expressed a desire for high-quality restaurants and retail that suit their lifestyle and that generate sales tax so that residential taxes can remain at a low rate. We hear them, and that’s what we seek to deliver.”
Although the city will see new development, Kelly said city staff will work to make sure the rural feel of the city is maintained.
“People will sell their land to developers, as is their right,” he said. “We’ve developed a good set of guidelines for development, and we’ve upheld that in the new comprehensive plan. We use those guidelines in making decisions about the development projects that come before us. The need to balance between Colleyville’s rural feel and allowing responsible development that is a good fit for the community hasn’t changed in the past 10 years … and I don’t see it changing in the next 10.”
There may not be much undeveloped land left, but Wieder said there is a possibility of some redevelopment this year. In the past years the city has been successful in redeveloping vacant buildings into large retailers, such as Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart.
“In the past few years, Colleyville has been successful in attracting redevelopment to properties that had long been vacant and in attracting many of the types of businesses that Colleyville residents have expressed they want,” he said. “I think we have some good momentum going, so we hope to continue to keep that going [this] year.”
Southlake Mayor Laura Hill said in 2015, the city of Southlake continued on its path of attracting quality commercial developments.
“2015 was a banner year for Southlake development with the announcement of two outstanding office projects on SH 114: [the] Granite Properties Class A office building and TD Ameritrade’s new regional campus,” she said. “Both of these developments will help us support our flagship shopping center, Town Square, as well as the newly developed Park Village, Kimball Oaks and Carroll Pointe.”
Ken Baker, Southlake senior director of planning and development services, said as of March, the city has about 15 percent of its land left undeveloped, but a number of properties have the potential of redevelopment. As far as undeveloped land, Baker said most of it is along SH 114. Hill has created a committee to help guide development along the SH 114 corridor.
She said she created the committee, which council members Brandon Bledsoe and Gary Fawks sit on along with residents and planning and zoning commission members, because of the need to plan on a larger-scale level.
“The Southlake 2035 Corridor Planning Committee was recently formed to address specific pieces of land within Southlake as the city reaches build out,” Baker said. “The approach will consist of small-area planning to develop recommendations for properties … typically located adjacent to a major roadway corridor and/or an established residential area and by the nature of its location the property presents complex planning issues.”
Going into 2016 Hill said she is confident the undeveloped land on the SH 114 corridor will attract more quality development projects.
“Projects like Granite and TD Ameritrade will attract other first-class office projects to Southlake, which is what we need to complete the 114 corridor,” she said. “The office component is vital to the long-term sustainability of our city. Future development needs to fit; it needs to reflect the community we have already built.”