Saturday, July 13, 2024

Engel: Lakeside Village deal favors developer

Jim Engel

I want Lakeside to be finished.  I want Lakeside to be successful… for the developer, the businesses that have chosen to locate there and the residents… both those that invested life savings into a concept  by buying homes there and the rest of the town that can come to enjoy the area when it is complete.  But I do not think that we should be willing to give everything to the developer and significantly change the agreement that they agreed to with the town in 2012.

In 2012, the town’s leaders agreed to change a portion of the Lakeside Business District from campus commercial zoning to a mixed use development complete with towers to kick start development in the area.  It is a complex agreement where the roughly 155 acres were split into many micro-zones with each having a different focus such as retail/commercial, entertainment, residential, or a mix therein. Each area had its own restrictions such as the number of residential units and lot coverage percentage. Overall the project was approved for 2275 residential units and more than 800,000 sq ft of commercial space spread over more than the dozen micro-zones.

The single family home residential portions of the project took off and were very successful.  More than 70% of buyers were current Flower Mound residents looking to downsize to smaller lots.  Retail shops opened up and together they created a community there which is wonderful to see.  During the initial build-out of the project, the developer chose to not utilize all of the residential units in those micro-zones to the point where he could have had 329 more residences than what they built. As best as I can determine based on numbers provided by the developer in town meetings, about 950 residences have been built.  Almost 400 apartments between roundabouts 2 and 3 have been under construction for what seems like an eternity.  The Lakeside Tower condo project with 54 units is still under construction as well.

Last fall, the developer participated in a work session with Town Council and floated plans for the final phases of their Lakeside development which is called Lakeside Village.  It is a grand plan with numerous residential and commercial towers, a restaurant zone that borders Grapevine’s Rockledge Park and amenities such as an art center.  The animation video of the proposed development looks stunning.  But things are not always what they seem.

The developer says that since they bought the Hines Hotel portion of the development from another group, they want to combine 3 different micro-zones into 1 area which will allow them to produce a better project.  That last statement is probably true.  The issue is, they say that since they are combining zones, all the initial restrictions contained for the dozen plus micro-zones should no longer be valid including those that are finished.  The 3 micro-zones in question are MU Ten (1), MU Ten (2) and the Hines tract between them.   They are permitted to have 175, 260 and 65 residential units respectively.  But MU Ten (2) where the condo tower is being built, is only permitted to have 50% lot coverage because they knew that this location was to have a tower on it and wanted open space nearby.  Because of the footprint and design of the current tower coupled with the lot coverage limitation that the developer agreed to, another tower cannot be built in that micro-zone.   So they are only entitled to the 175 units in MU Ten (1) and the Hines property.   However, their new proposal is to take all of the unused residential units from all the prior developed micro-zones and give themselves 875 units rather than the 240 that they are entitled to.  Along the way, since they are cramming everything into a 35 acre area site, they want to the change the lot coverage percentage from the current range of 50% to 85% that they had previously agreed upon, to a 90% amount.  And, by the way, the planned commercial space declines significantly with no promise that it will ever be built.   At one point recently, they said 3 hotels would be built in their concept plan.  Now it is one.

Now here’s another aspect that residents need to know.  The developer wants the town to create a Tax Incremental Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) with Tarrant County to fund their infrastructure which would include the streets, installation of utilities, their underground parking garages, etc.  The cost was estimated for that work to be $20,000,000.  A current councilman told me that he is in favor of that because we’re not getting any significant tax revenue from it today.  He also said that the funding would come from property tax revenue from both Tarrant County and Flower Mound along with a portion of the town’s sales tax revenue from the proposed commercial/restaurants.   Remember though, the developer will not promise that any of the commercial will ever be built.  So we are providing incentives to a developer for a residential project, something which, as late as Thursday, a different councilman confirmed with me that the town does not do.  Wait there’s more!!!   In an email that I was given by another town resident who obtained it through a Public Information Request (PIR), the town manager told a 3rd member of council that the developer wanted property tax revenue from previous areas of the project (the condo tower, the Overture and Elan Phase II Apartments) to be diverted to the TIRZ to help pay for their infrastructure.   In my opinion, that is just stealing our tax dollars.

I support shared risk/rewards but this deal just seems lopsided in favor of the developer and gives them way too much, especially when we already gave them incentives in 2012.

I ask you ….do you want to give away your tax dollars to fund his infrastructure?  Do you think that the developer should be able to game the system to build 635 more residential units than they are entitled to and to increase the lot coverage where there is only 10% open space?  If you think that this is a bad deal for the town, please voice your opinion to our Town Council by either writing them at [email protected] with a copy to [email protected] or show up to Town Council on Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m.

Jim Engel
Flower Mound, TX

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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