Officials with Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille plan to continue to work on a mixed retail and entertainment development along U.S. Highway 75 even after announcing plans for a similar development in Sherman. Thursday’s announcement follows a similar announcement in September by Schulman’s of plans to build an entertainment complex in Denison.
“Nothing has changed,” Schulman’s owner Mark Schulman said following the announcement Thursday at the Sherman Municipal Ballroom. “What we have is an entertainment and retail development here. We have a retail and entertainment development there.”
On Thursday, Schulman announced plans to develop a 63,000-square-foot Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille facility at the intersection of FM 1417 and U.S. Highway 75 on about 14 acres of land. The development will feature multiple lanes of bowling, gaming, dining options and other amenities. Following the announcement, Schulman said the Sherman development would take focus, with the work on the retail portion of the Denison project taking place simultaneously.
“Of course it isn’t prudent to blow in two different directions and two different manners of focus,” Schulman said. “We are focusing on our Sherman piece on the retail and entertainment development first and retail development in Denison at the same time.”
When asked for clarification on the status of the entertainment component of the Denison development, Schulman repeated his comments regarding retail development. Later, Schulman clarified that he would like to see the entertainment centers be developed at both locations.
“We are starting with retail,” he said. “What we are doing is going in layers because there are other forms of entertainment we do other than that. Our goal is that this market will support both.”
In early September, officials announced plans to build an entertainment complex at the corner of Crawford Street and Hwy. 75 in Denison. Plans for the facility included 24 lanes of bowling, an eight-screen movie theater, an arcade, multilevel laser tag area and dining options through Billy’s Grille and Bar. Schulman’s also operates two other locations in Bay City and Corsicana.
The development would also include 100,000 square feet or retail and office space. Proposed plans for pad sites and adjacent development included retail, restaurants and a possible hotel.
Officials with the Denison Development Alliance later confirmed that they had been in negotiations with Schulman regarding the development and possible incentives for nearly a year. DDA President Tony Kaai said negotiations ended on Sept. 6 — the same day the project was announced on the Facebook page of a local Realtor — with no agreement on incentives.
Two days later, the city of Denison and representatives for HeyDay Entertainment announced plans to develop a new HeyDay location in Gateway Village, near the intersection of FM 691 and Hwy. 75. Representatives described the development as an upscale entertainment venue with amenities that would appeal to both children and adults alike.
As a part of the announcement, the city and DDA approved two separate incentive agreements for the project. The DDA agreed to pay $250,000 to Covenant Development, the company behind Gateway Village, for infrastructure improvements at the site before development. These improvements could include streets, water and sewer utilities, electric and gas utilities, and site grading.
In a separate vote, the city of Denison also approved an incentive agreement by offering $750,000 in tax abatements for the city. This abatement would include both property and sales taxes from businesses at the location. Denison City Manager Jud Rex estimated that it would take five years to finish the agreement.
Rex said the city ultimately decided to back the HeyDay development due to its location in Gateway Village and the anticipated growth and development it would bring to the area.
Sherman and Denison take action
On Oct. 2, the cities of Sherman and Denison both passed items related to separate Schulman projects. The meetings were only separated from each other by one hour.
Following a closed, executive session discussion, the Sherman City Council approved an economic development program agreement with Schulman’s 58 Aggie Development LLC for the development of a commercial and retail center on the southeast corner of the intersection of Hwy. 75 and FM 1417 on 22 acres of land.
The agreement will provide a cash grant of 50 percent of the sales tax generated by the development to 58 Aggie Development over a seven-year period with a $1.5 million cap. The development is expected to bring about $25 million in capital investments and improvements to the intersection, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue each year, officials said.
Officials with the city said Sherman reached out to the developer behind 58 Aggie Development after Schulman’s announced plans for the Denison location.
Meanwhile, less than 12 miles away, the Denison City Council approved the conveyance of 0.39 acres of land along Crawford Street for the Schulman Development.
The small piece of land sits at the southwestern corner of what will be the Schulman development. The land was originally designated as part of a greenbelt between the highway and future developments and residential neighborhoods along Ansley Lane.
Officials with the city said the land was requested to add additional access and visibility for traffic along Crawford.
Denison P&Z denies zoning request
Following the conveyance, the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday to deny a request by Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille for the rezoning of the former greenbelt land. As the commission is a recommending body on these matters, the request is expected to be heard by the Denison City Council at a future meeting for final approval.
Commissioners cited concerns that the project would not move forward in their decision to recommend denial for the request. The fact that no one with Schulman’s attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the development also caused concern with some commissioners.
“That gives me even more reservation of doing something that’s going to stick with the property for a development that is at best iffy right now,” Commissioner Bret Evans said. “I don’t want to make it easier for the next person that’s going to come along three years down the road. At some point, this property is going to be developed and it’s going to be probably sooner than later, but there’s ways that help protect the neighborhood back there as much as possible.”
In the event that the project does not move forward, the small portion of greenbelt would revert to the city’s possession.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton said he is confident the Sherman development and agreements between the city and Schulman will not damage his relationship with Denison or its officials. Hefton added that he did not feel this represented poaching by the city and that Sherman is unaware of any conversations between Schulman and other venues.
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said in a emailed statement that the cities of Sherman and Denison still have a positive relationship despite Thursday’s announcement and cities often compete with each other for identical or similar businesses.
Rex added that the city has not heard from Schulman following the Sherman announcement. However, Schulman had previously worked with the city to move forward with the development. If the project does not move forward, Rex said the location will still see development of one sort or another.
“The northwest corner of Crawford Street and U.S. 75 is very attractive from a commercial development standpoint and we expect to see that site move forward whether with Mr. Schulman or another developer,” he said. “Last month, the City announced that HeyDay will be opening in Denison with support from the City and we continue to assist them as they move forward. We are excited to see that HeyDay has already submitted their site and development plans for approval and look forward to construction in the coming months.”