For the city of Denison, the past week has been a tale of two bowling alleys as a pair of entertainment venue chains announced plans to open similar facilities in Denison within the next two years. Despite city officials speaking positively of both projects as the realization of long-term goals for the city, only one will be moving forward with incentives and assistance for development.
“It is exciting that we have two top-notch businesses this excited to be in this market,” Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said Friday.
The first announcement came late Wednesday evening when officials with Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille announced development of a new 66,000-square-foot location in Denison at the northwest corner of the intersection of Crawford Street and U.S. Highway 75. The new venue will feature 24 lanes of bowling, laser tag and an eight-screen movie theater with pad sites for six neighboring restaurants.
“We feel like Denison is a perfect location for what we do in the entertainment world,” Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille owner Mark Schulman said. “When we look at a market, we look at what’s missing — if we’re a good fit and the current growth and future growth of that community. For all of those things, the boxes were checked for Denison.”
Not to be outdone, officials with the city and Oklahoma-based HeyDay Entertainment announced the development of its first location in Texas at Gateway Village, near the intersection of Hwy. 75 and FM 691, on Friday. The 55,000-square-foot facility will also include bowling and laser tag, but will also feature an 18-hole mini-golf course and a ropes course with neighboring space for restaurant and commercial development.
Immediately prior to the HeyDay announcement Friday, the DDA and city council met to approve two incentive packages for the HeyDay development. As a part of the incentives, the DDA agreed to pay $250,000 to Covenant Development, the company behind Gateway Village, for infrastructure improvements of the site prior to development. These improvements could include streets, water and sewer utilities, electric and gas utilities, and site grading.
The city itself also assisted with the incentives by offering $750,000 of tax incentives and abatements for the site. City Manager Jud Rex said this would include both property taxes and sales taxes from businesses at the location, adding that the city estimates it will take five years to finish the agreement.
Following Friday’s announcement, Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said the city had been in negotiations with both companies in recent months. Johnson said the city had been courting other similar businesses with the hopes of attracting one to the city as a major anchor. These negotiations culminated with both Schulman’s and HeyDay as finalists.
However, city officials said the decision on granting incentives ultimately came down to location. As the project is taking place in Gateway Village, an up and coming development the city has worked to foster for years, Johnson said it made sense for the city to offer incentives to it.
“At the end of the day, because of the importance Gateway has with this community, we decided to support this project,” Johnson said.
For his part, Kaai said negotiations on incentives with Schulman ended Wednesday, the day the company made its announcement of plans to open in Denison, after more than a year of talks. He said the incentives that were discussed were similar in scope to those offered to HeyDay. When asked why the negotiations ended with no incentives, Kaai said officials with Schulman’s “decided they didn’t need any.”
In a text message Friday morning, Schulman confirmed that he had been offered incentives by the city, but they never materialized. When asked why negotiations fell through, Schulman declined to comment.
“We elected to move forward on the merits of the project and market area,” he said. “We are excited and committed to bringing a first-class entertainment development to Denison and Grayson County fall 2018.”