Big developments to change area in north New Braunfels. - Express News
Web Posted: 02072007 10:56 PM CST
NEW BRAUNFELS — The intersection of Interstate 35 and FM 306 is near some light manufacturing but mostly surrounded by farm fields.
That is about to change.
The highway crossroads in north New Braunfels is poised to become the next major commercial center on the San Antonio-Austin corridor, with three major shopping complexes totaling more than 2 million square feet now in the planning stages.
The New Braunfels City Council on Wednesday discussed forming a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to help move the projects off the drawing board. It took no action, but after a two-hour executive session, council members said they support creating the district.
‘‘I think we are all in favor of the tax district,’‘ said Councilwoman Beth Sokolyk. ‘‘It is an excellent economic incentive. But at the same time we want to make sure we are in agreement and understand all the implications so that we do it right.’‘
In a reinvestment zone, developers spend the money up front to build the infrastructure needed to support the project, and then get repaid through a rebate of the sales or property taxes generated by the project.
In this case, the zone would pay to extend FM 306 about a mile east of Interstate 35 and solve a serious drainage problem there. City officials declined to say how much money the project would have to raise, but one source familiar with the proposal said it is more than $25 million.
On the west side of Interstate 35 and north of FM 306, a 500,000-square-foot shopping center is planned, anchored by a new H-E-B grocery store. The city already has approved $535,000 in industrial development sales tax funds to improve drainage at that site.
However, the grocery can’t be built without more drainage work to move water from it and from the planned 265-acre Creekside development east of Interstate 35 to nearby Alligator Creek.
Creekside, a project of NewQuest Properties, would have more than a million square feet of retail, restaurants, a movie theater, medical office park, amphitheater, hotel and apartments.
And just south of Creekside is the planned Canyon Crossings Development, which could be from 40 to 70 acres and include 400,000 to 800,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, said Mark Wheeler, a partner in developer Surecap Village Partners.
‘‘The good news is the retailers are coming to New Braunfels,’‘ Wheeler told the City Council on Wednesday. ‘‘With three centers competing, you guys have so much leverage right now. Use it, because when developers compete, the community wins.’‘
Wheeler said Canyon Crossings is negotiating with Target, Staples, Office Max, Wachovia Bank, Red Robin, Academy and several other retailers, but has no signed agreements yet.
‘‘They are all playing the centers against each other,’‘ he said.
Councilwoman Kathleen Krueger said the council wants to move cautiously in forming the zones.
‘‘The taxpayers were at the heart of the discussion,’‘ she said. ‘‘We want to proceed carefully because this will affect not just this one property but public policy into the future.’‘
Last edited by tmathis; Feb 8, 2007 at 5:14 AM.