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March 4, 2013

City moving closer to start of development

GREENVILLE — During the next few weeks, City of Greenville officials will be taking actions designed to bring the construction of a long awaited retail and commercial development a little closer to reality.

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Advisory Board, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council are all scheduled to consider items this month regarding the proposed Greenville Towne Center development, which would stretch along Interstate 30 in Greenville and which is also expected to include the Splash Kingdom water park.

The City of Greenville is also planning to receive some money back from the TIRZ, as a reimbursement for the recently completed construction of the Monty Stratton Parkway.

The seven-member TIRZ Board of Directors was created in 2009 to make recommendations to the Greenville City Council regarding the administration of TIRZ No. 1, which covers approximately 1,900 acres stretching from the Interstate 30 corridor, then north along Wesley Street into and along either end of downtown.

Tax increment reinvestment, also known as tax increment financing, uses a portion of the taxes assessed on increased property values to help repay the investment used to install the infrastructure needed in the zone. The TIRZ pays for public infrastructure improvements, such as water and sewer lines and roads, within the area identified for development.

As property values increase within the zone due to development, a portion of the increased property taxes as a result of the development is reimbursed to the developer.

The TIRZ Board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street, at which time it intends to receive and take appropriate action concerning Planned Development Number 28, for property subject to the Developer Reimbursement Agreement.

The Planned Development Number 28 is the Towne Center project, which had $3.8 million dedicated under the original TIRZ plan toward reimbursement for infrastructure costs.

The Greenville Towne Center is under development by III:I Emerging Market Partners in Plano and would stretch along the eastbound service road, starting just east of the Home Depot parking lot, with Center Point Lane as its western boundary.

The preliminary site plan for the project shows room for major retail anchor tenants and smaller parcels, with access from both the service road and Roy Warren Parkway.

As of last month, negotiations were still under way designed to bring a Splash Kingdom water park to Greenville as part of the Towne Center development.

The City Council voted in December to approve a letter of intent with Splash Kingdom for the establishment of a water park in Greenville.

Under the agreement, the city would provide an economic incentive, a tax abatement and water and sewer line improvements. In exchange, the Canton-based company agrees to build a water park costing at least $5 million. The city would work with Steenson Development to acquire the approximately 14 acres of land inside the Towne Center project on which the water park would be located and would bring water, sewer and electrical service to the boundary of the water park, without cost to Splash Kingdom. Any improvements inside the water park property itself would be paid for by the company.

The City of Greenville would provide a three-year property tax abatement for the water park. Splash Kingdom would “promptly enter into negotiations” with Steenson Development for the acquisition of the water park location and would complete the water park improvements, “in an amount equal to or exceeding five million dollars.”

 The park is expected to begin operations during the 2014 season and would include not less than one major slide, a lazy river, a wave pool, a children’s area, administrative and ticket offices, food and beverage concessions, restroom and locker room facilities and parking.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet in regular session March 18, at which time it will hold a public hearing before taking a vote whether to recommend to the City Council a change in zoning from agricultural and commercial to planned development for the almost 63 acres on which the Towne Center would be located.

The Council would then conduct a second public hearing before taking a final vote on the zoning change when it meets on March 26.

The TIRZ Board also intends Thursday to consider the development agreement it had reached with the City of Greenville concerning Monty Stratton Parkway between Interstate 30 and Lions Lair Road, which officially opened for traffic at the end of January.

The parkway is two concrete lanes with a raised median and open ditches on either side between the interstate and Lions Lair Road. A sidewalk runs along one side of the roadway and two crossovers were included under the project.

The Britain Chevrolet dealership in Greenville is anticipating relocating to the intersection of Monty Stratton and the Interstate 30 frontage road and a proposed new YMCA/event center — if approved by voters in May — is also targeting a site along Monty Stratton next to the Greenville SportsPark.

The TIRZ plan also dedicates $7.8 million toward improvements for commercial projects in and around the Monty Stratton Parkway and $9.9 million for city infrastructure in and near the parkway, $6.2 million for improvements to Traders Road and $11.9 million for downtown redevelopment, including street improvements and the establishment of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) station.

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