Sherman is considering offering an incentive for the early completion of its new Fire Station No. 4 on Northgate Drive, but is going to wait on issuing the offer until the land where the current station is sold.
After nearly 10 minutes of discussion, the Sherman City Council tabled a resolution Monday that would have offered a $30,000 incentive to Crossland Construction Inc. of Prosper for completing the work on the new fire station 30 days ahead of schedule. The land at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417 where the current Blalock Park Fire Station No. 4 is located is slated to be used for an entertainment and retail development by Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille. However, Schulman’s hasn’t finalized its purchase of the land, so the council opted to hold off on considering the incentive until after the property sale closes.
“I understand to incentivize and I want to be developer friendly, especially on that prime corner to help the interested party out,” council member Jason Sofey said. “I would feel more comfortable if we knew we had money in the bank before we agree.”
City Manager Robby Hefton said Schulman’s closing on the property is expected to happen by April 5.
“We’re still working on some things on our side,” he said, but indicated he expected the deal to go through. “The location of the current fire station is detrimental to the development of the Schulman project, in terms of being able to do the mass grading and other work that needs to be done out there. So the sooner the fire station can be relocated in a manner that suits our fire department — doesn’t cause any problems with the provision of our services — the sooner it can be moved the better.”
Hefton said he didn’t expect the delay in offering the incentive to impact the work at the site of the new fire station.
“They know it’s our desire for them to get done as quickly as possible,” he said.
New fire station
The 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 in January to the city for $1.
In November, the council hired Crossland Construction 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 also currently 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.
Assistant City Manager Steve Ayers introduced the incentive proposal to the council and said it could extend past $30,000, as it would offer an extra $1,000 a day for completion earlier than 30 days.
“Our 10 month contract we’re currently in with Crossland would put us in mid- to late-November completion,” Ayers said. “With the early incentive, it would push it up to early October completion. It’s unlikely that they’d be able to do it any earlier than that.”
Ayers told the council there is a good possibility Crossland could complete the project 30 days ahead of schedule, and after the meeting said the company agrees.
“They’re in agreement with the thought that if they had the 30 day incentive, they think that’s reasonable to finish,” Ayers said. “They feel pretty confident that they can do it 30 days (early). They’re a big company, they have a lot of resources.”
The assistant city manager said he doesn’t believe an early completion incentive would impact the quality of the project.
“We have people on site, and we have meetings usually once every other week where we go over the progress,” Ayers said. “We talk to the site superintendent and we make site visits to oversee the quality of it.”
When Sherman officials broke ground on the new fire station earlier this year, Mayor David Plyler said the city hoped to have the new station open by the end of 2018. Ayers said the proposal tabled by the council was a “pretty standard early incentive” and noted Crossland will have to reach the 30 day benchmark to collect the money.
“If they complete it in 29 days, it’s nothing,” Ayers said. “It has 30 days or nothing.”
In October, Schulman’s 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 Hwy. 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.
Ayers said the early relocation of the fire station would be beneficial for Schulman’s plans, but the incentive offer was not a suggestion made by the entertainment company to move things along quicker.
“They say they’re ready to move forward,” Ayers said. “It’s going to make things a lot better for them logistically if that fire department’s out of the way, so they can do their dirt work and such.”
The 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.