Developers with Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille requested $4 million in incentives from Denison to support the development of a new entertainment center at the corner of Crawford Street and U.S. Highway 75. The request came to light when the city and Denison Development Alliance issued a press release late Monday that gave new insight into city conversations with Schulman and other competing developers.
“Knowing that significant commercial development needs existed in our market, including retail and entertainment, Denison Development Alliance has spent over two years contacting and recruiting numerous entertainment venue developers to anchor a proposed retail center,” the DDA and Denison said in the press release. “Of all the contacts made, Mr. Mark Schulman with Schulman MBG showed the most interest and was actively pursued by the city.”
In September, representatives with Schulman’s announced plans to build a new entertainment complex, complete with space for additional development, along Hwy. 75. The announcement said the development would feature an eight-screen movie theater, bowling, dining and other entertainment amenities.
Two days later, HeyDay Entertainment announced plans to open a location in the new Gateway Village development, located at the intersection of FM 691 and Hwy. 75. To assist in development of that project, the city and DDA announced a total of $1 million in incentives for HeyDay.
Officials with the city confirmed they had been in conversations with both developers regarding incentives. Discussions between the city ended the same day that Schulman’s announced its Denison development, with the project receiving no outside funding from the city or its development arm.
In early October, officials with Schulman’s announced plans to build another MBG location at the intersection of FM 1417 and Hwy. 75 in Sherman.
Despite the news of the second location, Schulman said in October that he still plans to move forward with the Denison location. However, the Sherman location and Denison retail development would take presidence, he said.
In Monday’s press release, Denison city officials said Schulman initially signed a letter of intent to develop a site in Gateway Village in February. However, after weeks of work, it was later determined that a deal could not be reached for the Gateway property. It was at this time that Schulman began to pursue development at the Crawford location.
That is also when HeyDay contacted the DDA and expressed interest in the Gateway location. However, research on the demographics of the regional trade area showed that there was sufficient income and spending to support only one of the developments, the city said in the press release.
As a part of the negotiations, Schulman’s requested an incentive package of $4 million in sales and property tax rebates over the course of a decade, the press release says. By comparison, developers for Heyday requested just $1 million over just five years. Based on the total value evaluation, a final recommendation was made to move forward with the HeyDay project.
On Tuesday, DDA Vice President William Myers said the incentive package requested by Schulman’s would have been on par with those offered for the Gateway Village development itself and the Hilton Garden Inn and Texoma Event Center.
“It would have definitely been one of the bigger ones,” he said.
In the press release, the city said the decision to choose HeyDay, while based one more than 20 factors, ultimately boiled down to just three. With the significantly smaller incentive package, city officials argued it was a smaller risk to support HeyDay and there was a greater chance for a return on the public investment. Additionally, city officials said the offerings at HeyDay brought a more unique opportunity to the Grayson County market.
Finally, city officials argued that the Gateway Village location gave HeyDay an advantage when seeking incentives. As the development offered the opportunity for more than 80 acres of additional retail development, city officials said it was more favorable to support the Heyday project.
The Schulman development was discussed Monday night during a Denison City Council meeting where the council approved the rezoning of less than half an acre of land to help with the development of the project. During the discussions, Schulman updated the council on plans to develop the site in phases, with priority focus placed on the Crawford Crossing Retail Development. The second phase would include the initially announced entertainment development.
In response to the discussions, members of the council expressed concern about the future of the project in what is quickly becoming a crowded market, and mixed signals that have been given by the developer.
Officials with Schulman’s declined to comment on the press release issued by the city and DDA, stating the topic had previously been discussed Monday night before the city council. When asked specifically about the incentive discussions, which were not a part of Monday’s meeting, officials once again declined to comment.