Friday, January 27, 2023

Flower Mound delays decision on fine arts center

A rendering of Lakeside Village viewed from east of the southern roundabout looking west toward Lake Grapevine.

On Monday, the Flower Mound Town Council voted to request a delay before making a commitment to build a Fine Arts/Cultural Arts Center in the Lakeside Village development.

As part of Realty Capital’s Development Agreement with the town, a deadline of April 17 was set as the deadline for a Letter of Intent from the town regarding the creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ); the town is unable to comply.

Town officials are requesting the deadline be extended to Jan. 7, 2020, with an Aug. 5, 2019 date to allow the town to hire a consultant to provide the Lakeside Village developer assurances of continued interest, plus that consultant’s response to Town Council by Dec. 2, 2019.

The town’s letter by Mayor Steve Dixon to Sunset Legacy, LP and Lakeside Residences, LP with developer Realty Capital states in part: “In accordance with the Town’s recently adopted Cultural Arts Master Plan, the Town will pursue consulting services to aid in the identification of needs, demands and feasibility of this type of facility. However, the deadlines … simply cannot be met. Realty Capital’s urgency in moving the project forward is understood; however, the town must conduct the necessary due diligence associated with the project.”

The Fine Arts/Cultural Arts center for Flower Mound has been a “can kicked down the road” in the past.

The initial interest in creating a town cultural center officially started back in 2005 when it was included with the first TIRZ partnering with Denton County, which has funded the growth along the FM 2499 corridor; including the town library and new Town Hall.

More than a decade later, the idea of incorporating a Fine Arts/Cultural Arts Center within the Lakeside Village project was re-introduced as a possibility under a new TIRZ partnering with Tarrant County.

In August 2018, the council contracted to pay $20,000 to Hawes Hill & Associates, with George Schrader of Schrader & Cline, LLC, to conduct a feasibility study on whether a TIRZ District for Lakeside Village would benefit the town.

On Oct. 1, 2018, the council approved the Cultural Arts Master Plan, which is not just a plan for cultural development – it is more broadly looking at arts, culture and creativity as an economic driver in the community and as an essential element in the quality of life of residents.

During the presentation of the plan, it was also stated that there’s, “strong interest in activating three main commercial centers– Lakeside, Riverwalk, Parker Square – as hubs for artistic and creative activation.”

The Lakeside Village TIRZ study was finished in December 2018 and it indicated that the total estimated revenues (between $71 million – $140 million) from the project would provide sufficient funds to support the requested $20,550,727 in public infrastructure costs associated with the project and would mean a TIRZ District would be a viable option to help jump-start the Lakeside Village project.

The next step was taken this March 4 when council voted 3-2 to spend $50,000 for the consulting firm of Hawes Hill & Associates to conduct implementation activity for the creation of a TIRZ related to the Lakeside Village development.

During her presentation, Town Economic Development Director Andrea Roy presented several TIRZ scenarios, based on different investment percentages from the town, Tarrant County and the developer, Realty Capital.

In talks with Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, Roy said Fickes indicated the county would be interested in contributing 50-percent of new property taxes generated within the TIRZ.

Roy added that, over its 20-year life span, the town is expected to receive $90 million from the Lakeside Village TIRZ. She also assured the council that the original $20,000 feasibility study contract and the $50,000 contract for Hawes Hill & Associates to conduct implementation activities for creation of a TIRZ will be totally reimbursed to the town when the TIRZ is activated.

On Monday, the single vote against continuing the quest for a Cultural Arts Center was cast by Council member Sandeep Sharma, saying: “I don’t want to be held to the Aug. 5 date [to hire a consultant].”

Both Mayor Pro Tem Jason Webb and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Claudio Forest agreed that having a start deadline is important to meet the January deadline.

“I’ve read the letter four times now and I think it makes sense,” said Forest.

“In our resident survey in June, let’s ask our residents’ interest in a Fine Arts Center and the location of it,” suggested Council member Jim Engel.

Council member Kevin Bryant pointed out that a response to a DA is not a commitment.

“At this time, we aren’t prepared to say yes or no,” he said. “Give us the time to study this.”

Some residents in the audience opposed the letter, saying there are too many unknowns about the facility.

Former Councilmen Bryan Webb and Don McDaniel were in the audience and said the center is desired by residents.

“It’s true this wouldn’t be a revenue generator or even revenue neutral,” McDaniel said. “But neither are our parks, trails or other amenities that make Flower Mound a desirable place to live.”

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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