Sherman officials gathered on Northgate Drive in the city’s Progress Park industrial area this week to officially break ground on a new Fire Station No. 4. The city is relocating the Blalock Park Fire Station No. 4, which currently sits on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417, to allow Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille to build an entertainment and retail development at the property it purchased at that corner.

Sherman Mayor David Plyler said the men and women of Sherman Fire-Rescue deserve modern-day tools and facilities that will allow them to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“Sherman’s new, state-of-the-art Fire Station No. 4 will provide excellent lifesaving access for our employers in Progress Park, the nearby homes and apartments on FM 1417, and eventually, the new Sherman High School,” Plyler said. “It will put our firefighters and paramedics in a position to excel at their jobs, both literally and figuratively, because in addition to the strategic advantages of locating the station here on Northgate Drive, the new facility will give crews a work site they can relax in and be proud of, with ample space in which to work between calls.”

The Sherman City Council accepted the general warranty deed last month 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. The SEDCO board of directors had approved the sale of the land to the city for $1 last month.

In November, the council hired Crossland Construction Inc. of Prosper to serve as construction manager-at-risk for the 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 and work on that project is already underway.

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 has not had any significant improvements made to it since it was first built.

“This event represents the cumulative efforts of dozens of people across several city departments,” Plyler said during the groundbreaking ceremony before turning his attention to the current Blalock Fire Station with a joke. “I thought about taking a poll to see how many of you thought I was older than that fire station, but I’d prefer to keep my list of enemies short. So I’ll just tell you — I was all of 2 years old when that fire station opened its doors in 1968. And much like the Blaylock station, I still get the job done, but I’m not as pretty as I used to be.”

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 to start in December or January. During the fire station groundbreaking ceremony this week, Plyler said Sherman hopes to have the new station open by the end of the year.

The Sherman City Council approved an economic development program agreement with Schulman’s owner Mark Schulman for the entertainment and retail 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.