Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille moved one step closer Tuesday to opening for business in Sherman.


The city’s Planning & Zoning Commission approved a site plan and specific use permit for the planned entertainment complex, which will include a movie theater, bowling alley and arcade. Schulman’s will be part of a full development of the more than 22-acre tract at the southeast corner of the intersection of FM 1417 and U.S. Highway 75.


“We’re excited about bringing a high-level, first-class entertainment project to the city of Sherman,” developer Mark Schulman said.


The Schulman’s complex is expected to encompass 72,995 square feet with multiple bowling lanes, eight movie screens offering dine-in viewing, arcade and dining options through a Billy’s Grille and Bar.


The commission also approved a preliminary plat of the property during its consent agenda. The preliminary plat was requesting the property be divided into five lots for commercial development. The project’s civil engineer David Vilbig said the final plat would be before the commission next month. 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.


Vilbig explained the specific use permit was needed because a portion of the property is in the Blalock Overlay District, a portion is zoned for a retail business and a portion is zoned as a general commercial district.


“And the Blalock Overlay, at this moment, does not allow the movie theater, so that’s what the exception is for,” Vilbig said.


Local resident Jeffrey Bates, who lives near the planned development, expressed concerns about traffic issues and the possibility of trash accumulating in his neighborhood.


“Right now, we have two gas stations, a Jack in the Box, a hotel that bring a lot of trash to the neighborhood,” Bates said before asking whether there was going to any kind of fencing around the development.


Vilbig said trash issue is an ongoing issue for businesses such as this, but Schulman said he didn’t expect it to be a problem from his properties.


“We keep our places exceptionally clean at all times,” Schulman said, adding that maintaining that high quality will be part of the company’s agreements with any other businesses that develop on the site.


Vilbig said he expected to have additional details about traffic by the commission’s next meeting.


“I’ve been working with city staff (on that and) we have a traffic impact analysis ongoing right now,” Vilbig said. “We have a traffic engineering firm out of Dallas working on that.”


Bates said he had no objections to the development and was just hoping to get those questions answered.


“My granddaughter is tickled to death that there’s going to be a movie theater and bowling alley right across the road,” Bates said.


Second phase


The second phase of the Schulman’s development will add a hotel and conference center to the east of the Movie Bowl Grille. Last month, City Manager Robby Hefton said Schulman’s is expected to close on the nearly 14-acre tract of land for the first phase of its development during the first week of April. He said the Sherman Economic Development Corp. will likely hold onto the remaining 10 acres or so in case the city is involved in the planned hotel convention aspect of the development.


“Most of the hotel convention products that come to towns our size, the way that those deals get done is many times cities will help build a convention aspect to a project under a Convention and Visitors Bureau-kind of model and then a private developer would come in and build a hotel,” Hefton said. “So you’ve got the city utilizing and building the convention space, a complimentary hotel that feeds into that convention center being built by private dollars and then the two can operate the facility jointly.”


The city manager said he wasn’t sure that was the direction things would progress, but city staff’s research indicated it is a very common model “to get a product like that in towns” that are Sherman’s size or larger.


Grand opening


When the development was announced in October, Schulman said building a Movie Bowl Grille typically takes 15 months to 18 months to complete, but his people will be working as quickly and efficiently as possible, so he didn’t rule out opening before the end of 2018. Schulman did not give any update on when the complex is expected to open during Tuesday’s meeting. City staff said construction could start as soon as next month.


Fire station incentive


Once Schulman’s closes on its purchase of the around 14 acres of land, the Sherman City Council is expected to again consider an incentive for the early completion of the city’s new Fire Station No. 4 on Northgate Drive to allow work on the entertainment complex to begin sooner.


The council tabled a resolution last month 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 council opted to hold off on considering the incentive until after the property sale closes.


Assistant City Manager Steve 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 more quickly.


“They say they’re ready to move forward,” Ayers said last month. “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.”


Economic development agreement


The city approved an economic development program agreement with 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.