Nearly two and a half years after announcing plans to move the Blalock Park Fire Station No. 4, Sherman has begun work on the new station and the extension of Northgate Drive in the city’s Progress Park industrial area.

The Sherman City Council recently accepted the general warranty deed from the Sherman Economic Development Corp. for the 7.7109 acre tract of land on the east side of Northgate Drive that will be used for the new station. City Manager Robby Hefton updated the council on the move and the work on Northgate Drive.

“Construction is already underway, as is the extension of Northgate Drive,” Hefton said. “This is actually just our accepting and purchasing this land, 7.71 acres from SEDCO for use for that purpose for the fire station.”

The SEDCO board of directors unanimously approved the sale of the land to the city for $1 earlier this month. The city’s Blalock Park Fire Station No. 4 currently sits on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417.

“We’ve been working with the city over two years to move that fire station into Progress Park, which would be on the east side of Northgate Drive in (Progress) Park I,” SEDCO President John Plotnik said earlier this month.

The relocation of that fire station will allow Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille to build an entertainment and retail development at that corner.

In November, the Sherman City Council hired Crossland Construction Inc. of Prosper to serve as construction manager-at-risk for the planned relocation of the fire station. The council also awarded the contract for the construction of an extension to Northgate Drive that month to Vessels Construction. The extension of Northgate Drive is part of the design that was done for the West Travis Street extension. The extension of Travis Street on the west side of Hwy. 75 currently goes through the Sherman Crossroads development and will ultimately be a four-lane divided roadway that will connect with OB Groner Road at its intersection with FM 1417. Northgate Drive is on the north side of FM 1417 and currently extends about three-quarters of the way through the Progress Park I industrial area.

The current station No. 4 was built in 1968 and has not had any significant improvements made to it since that time. City staff previously said the move will give firefighters better access and a greater ability to serve the southern half of the city and its projected growth.

In March of last year, the SEDCO board approved $900,000 to extend Northgate Drive north from its current end near Southeastern Freight to connect with the West Travis Street extension that will run along the northern edge of Progress Park I.

In October, Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille announced plans to open an entertainment complex as part of a planned full development of the 22-acre tract of land at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417. Schulman’s facility is expected to encompass 63,189 square feet and will feature multiple bowling lanes, eight movie screens offering dine-in viewing, various gaming choices and dining options through a Billy’s Grille and Bar. The rest of the first phase of the development is expected to include spaces for three restaurant or retail locations and a spot for a convenience store along the Highway 75 service road. The second phase of the development will add a hotel and conference center to the east of the Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille.

Following the Schulman’s announcement, City Manager Robby Hefton said construction on the development was likely start in December or January and the city is hoping to have the Blalock Park Fire Station moved to Northgate Drive sometime in 2018. Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said the city is planning a ground breaking ceremony for the new fire station soon.

“Construction is expected to begin by the end of the month, with a projected 10 month build time,” Strauch said via text message. “The hope is to have the new, state-of-the-art fire station open and operational by the end of 2018.”

The Sherman City Council approved an economic development program agreement with Schulman’s owner Mark Schulman for the development last year. The agreement will provide a cash grant of 50 percent of the sales tax generated by the planned commercial development over a seven-year period. However, the agreement puts a $1.5 million cap on the cash grant, and the agreement expires once the seven-year period ends.

City staff said the commercial and retail center development is expected to bring around $25 million in capital investments to the location and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual sales tax revenue for Sherman.