The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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March 8, 2013

Towne Center project could start in spring

GREENVILLE — Ground could be broken as early as this spring on a water park, which will be part of a long awaited retail and commercial development in Greenville.

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Advisory Board Thursday voted to recommend a planned development agreement for the Greenville Towne Center project, which would stretch along Interstate 30 and which is also expected to include the Splash Kingdom water park.

Scott Steenson with III:I Emerging Market Partners in Plano said the vote was the next big step toward getting the center under way, but could not comment yet on any other potential tenants.

“We don’t have anyone other than the water park,” Steenson said. “We’re in discussion with several other tenants.”

Steenson said ground could be broken on the water park in May or June.

“We’ve tied it to the start of their project,” Steenson said, adding the initial construction would likely involve “mostly infrastructure, with some parking.”

Officials with the Canton-based Splash Kingdom had previously indicated they intended to begin operations in Greenville for the 2014 season.

Thursday’s meeting was scheduled to present the TIRZ Board with a recommendation that it approve the planned unit development proposal for the center.

Former Greenville City Planner Lance Estep, who has worked on the project since its inception, said the center incorporates most of the elements required by the City of Greenville as part of its “overlay zoning” regulations in terms of landscaping, building materials, architectural features and signage, while also offering the developers the flexibility in terms of the layout of the property and other considerations.

“I think it is going to end up being a great product for the city,” Estep said, noting that the Towne Center is expected to include more than retail and commercial businesses and may also involve limited service hotels, private event/meeting halls and even multi-family tracts.

“There’s a whole mix of uses here,” Estep said. “I think you’ll be happy with it when it hits the ground.”

Gerald E. Luecke with Hodges and Associates, the architects of the project, said the developers needed some flexibility in the requirements, in order to help meet the demands of the potential tenants for the center.

“We are starting to have more interest from retailers, restaurants, entertainment groups and the like,” Luecke said.

Steenson assured the TIRZ Board that the development would include quality landscape elements.

“I’m crazy for landscapes,” Steenson said. “I guarantee you there will be plenty of landscapes out there.”

City Manager Steven Alexander also voiced his satisfaction with the plans.

“The staff is very happy with the way this turned out,” Alexander said.

The seven-member TIRZ Board 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. The Board voted Thursday to recommend approval of the planned development agreement to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The 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 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.

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