Published January 9, 2020, in Weatherford Democrat
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Willow Park Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone board, an update on the construction projects that have been completed or are underway within the district was given.
A TIRZ is a method local governments can use to pay for improvements that will draw private investment to an area, according to the Texas Comptroller’s office. It redirects some of the ad valorem tax from property in an area designed as a TIRZ to pay for improvements in the zone. Other taxing entities may also consider participating in the zone and a board is created.
The Willow Park city council authorized the creation of a TIRZ in October of 2016.
Wilks Development has several construction projects completed or underway within the TIRZ, which is about 230 acres encompassing the old race track property and The Shops at Willow Park area.
“We’re really happy about the progress we’ve made to this point and what we’ll make in the future. One of the numbers that we pulled from our team recently, when we started the TIRZ and created the district, the hope is always to grow tax revenue for the city and when we started in 2016, the total tax assessment on the TIRZ was $26,664,000. As of the 2019 assessment it was over $60,000,000 and with all of the construction we have going on, I expect in the next couple of years that number will double,” Wilks Development President Kyle Wilks said. “I feel like when the city looks back on this partnership and we look at this partnership, it’s going to be a win for both of us. There are a lot of partners, people and stakeholders that play a part in that from having a great school district to having great residents and just all-around good people.”
WP City Manager Bryan Grimes said the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Hotel is one of the big projects within the district.
“The Wilks Development has been aggressively trying to populate some lots in the area of the TIRZ — one of which is the Marriott hotel property that’s coming in behind The Shops [at Willow Park]. As of Wednesday, they were laying concrete down and so that’s coming along nicely,” Grimes said. “One of the caveats we put on them before they could go vertical is that they have to complete the slab around the building, but also just north of the dentist office that street there kind of dead-ends and then you have the bridge that’s going over to residential areas, so we’ve required that the street be completed and the bridge be operational before they can begin with the hotel. The reason being is fire safety — we have to have access to get back there.”
Construction on an office building has also been underway just off the Interstate 20 West frontage road next to The Shops at Willow Park.
“My understanding is that Baylor Medical is going to be one of the tenants in that building,” Grimes said. “They had a couple of lots sold in the back part of that property, but the ownership groups of those various projects have backed out for personal situations, so they are trying to market and fill those lots as well.”
Grimes said The Shops at Willow Park are doing well and there has been some turnover, but nothing that was of concern.
“Since we last met, PlainsCapital Bank has completed construction and opened up their facility. Adjacent to that is Nutrition Nation and they have opened up as well, so we’re excited about the front side of The Shops,” Grimes said. “On the back side, where the old race track used to be, they have begun construction on the multi-family, which is just south of Meadow Place Drive. I don’t have a solid timeframe of when that will be completed, but I know they’re doing some grading to get their streets in and utilities in.”
Wilks said they will be constructing some single-family homes in the TIRZ as well.
“We intend to start building single-family homes out there in the next three or four weeks you’ll start seeing the first model homes going up,” Wilks said. “The multi-family project is well underway and they should start pouring concrete soon.”
Grimes said Wilks Development has also been implementing a trails and parks system.
“I think they still have a few things to work on with that, but they’re moving and moving well,” Grimes said.
Wilks said they hope to have the trails system complete sometime this spring.
“Our trails and parks system is well underway. We’re pouring concrete trails all over and we have two bridges that we’ll set in the next two weeks. We have all of our playground equipment coming in probably in the next month or so,” Wilks said. “It’s not open, but I think by probably late March, our trails and parks will be open and I think everybody is going to be pleasantly surprised at what an asset it is for the city of Willow Park and also East Parker County.”
WP TIRZ board member and WP resident Corey Tucker said he was pleased with the progress within the TIRZ district so far.
“I think it’s been very positive and I’m glad that we have a good mix of offerings — restaurants, professional banks, a hotel, retail and residential. I’m looking forward to a continuation of progress and a good mix of projects,” Tucker said. “I’m grateful that it will increase our sales tax and those funds can be used for amenities for residents and future projects. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress and growth within the TIRZ.”
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