The Denison Development Alliance is searching for the best use for more than 150 acres of land near the city’s northern border. Officials with the economic developer will be meeting with design and engineering firms over the next few weeks to help envision and design the future use for the untapped land.
DDA President Tony Kaai said he is considering all uses for the land, including options for commercial, recreational and industrial uses. As it is still early in development, Kaai said the DDA is not committed to any one specific use for the land.
“We will go through the processes and vet all those options to decide what is best for this property,” Kaai said following a recent meeting with consultants.
The 159 acres of land, located near the intersection of FM 84 and U.S. Highway 75 near Randell Lake, was originally the favored site for the new Denison High School. Due to the property’s favorable location for development, Kaai said officials convinced the district to use its second choice for the high school location.
The search for a use for the property comes following a long list of long-term projects that the city has recently completed or is near completing. Long-awaited projects including the construction of the Denison High School have since been finished and opened while other goals, including a new HeyDay Entertainment location are expected to be complete in 2018.
“So what do we do now,” Kaai asked during the meeting. “We have never been in this situation before.”
The move also comes as the DDA is poised to fill its remaining land at its industrial park. With the park nearing capacity, Kaai said in November the DDA is ready to change its focus to the land off Hwy. 75. In the past, the DDA has focused on what it called “basic industry,” but noted that it is looking for the next step in development for the region.
“We want to shift our focus and energies to the next level,” he said. “What can we develop as a plan that makes it different than anything north of McKinney.”
Officials with the DDA, city and Denison Area Chamber of Commerce met with representatives with consulting firm Huitt Zollars recently to discuss possibilities for the property. Huitt Zollars is one of four firms that the city will be meeting with in coming weeks for the project.
Previously, the consulting firm worked on plans for other nearby developments and well-known destinations across the globe. Among these designs were plans for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and a once-proposed theme park and Planet Hollywood location in Grapevine.
While the use of the land may not be certain at this time, Kaai said he hopes to have all the interviews completed by mid-January and will conduct more thorough interviews with the finalist before deciding who to hire to create a more detailed plan for the project.