Just over eight months after announcing plans for a Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille in Sherman, the developers of the planned entertainment complex broke ground on the first part of the 22-acre tract of land on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417.

In addition to the 72,995-square-foot entertainment complex, the development will include a large Lone Star Food Store gas station and convenience store at the corner where Sherman Fire Station No. 4 currently sits, a hotel and convention center on the south side of the development and two smaller businesses along the Hwy. 75 service road that developer Mark Schulman said will likely be restaurants.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, City Manager Robby Hefton talked about the ribbon cutting for the Movie Bowl Grille being next June, but Schulman said the construction contract for the work is only 10 months.

“We’re trying to get open by the middle of May, in time for what we call summer,” Schulman said. “These guys are going to push hard, obviously they can’t control weather or things like that, but you’ve got a 10-month construction schedule.”

When the city approved the site plan for the Schulman’s development earlier this year, it showed the entertainment complex will include multiple bowling lanes, eight movie screens offering dine-in viewing, arcade and dining options through a Billy’s Grille and Bar. However, because the Sherman location will be one of the company’s largest Movie Bowl Grilles, Schulman said there are options for additional interactive entertainment attractions.

“Because of the expansive size, you have a lot of different elements in it — from either ropes course, rock climbing wall, a roller coaster inside — a lot of special things that we want to really keep a lid on,” Schulman said. “There’s possibilities of all those. We’re selecting the right elements and the line of which you bring new elements in. You can’t eat the whole watermelon at one time, but in our situation, it’s always evolving. Those things are always evolving with what we do.”

Schulman also praised Douglass Distributing’s Bill Douglass for his company’s work in securing the fueling station and convenience store in the development. Schulman said early on Douglass presented him with a study on what kind of business that corner of the city could potentially do and thanked him for all Douglass Distributing does for the community.

“We can’t wait to have your groundbreaking as soon as we pick that fire station up and move it to its new location,” Schulman said of the plan to move Fire Station No. 4 to Northgate Drive in the city’s Progress Park I industrial area.

Special project

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Schulman called the Sherman development “a special project” for his company and thanked everyone who has helped them get to this point. During his comments, Hefton also thanked a number of people for the work they’ve done, including former council member Charles H. Brown Sr., who was at the ceremony Thursday morning.

“I don’t want to belabor this point, but beginning about two years ago, he (Brown) said we need something in the city of Sherman for our children to do that is safe, that is family entertainment because we don’t have anything like that,” Hefton said. “So he on his own was going out and trying to establish communications with some other guys.”

Hefton didn’t say who, but Brown has previously said he contacted Main Event.

“But they wouldn’t listen to us — they said ‘Talk to the hand,’ so I did — the hand right over here,” Hefton said as he pointed to Schulman. “I expected he’d give me 60 seconds of his time and just move on, but he gave me 45 minutes of his time that first conversation. And hours, days and weeks and months of his time in the intervening time. I appreciate Mark catching on to the vision that we had as a city, and it was first pursued by our council members.”

The city manager said he recently had a conversation with Schulman in which the entertainment executive used a turn of phrase Hefton said he was going to “plagiarize” during his comments Thursday.

“When we were talking, he said his desire is for Sherman to be a great place to work, to live and to play,” Hefton said. “When you really think about what a community strives for, it’s those things.”

Sherman Mayor David Plyler also praised Schulman’s for what it will bring to the community, comparing it favorably to past projects that have had major impacts on Sherman, such as the Panda Power plant, Finisar Corp. announcing plans to begin production of components for Apple’s iPhone line of products and more.

“The Schulman’s development will do as much to solidify Sherman’s future as any of those other projects and in some cases maybe more,” Plyler said. “This corner will become an entertainment mecca for North Texas and Oklahoma. We’ve already seen firsthand the impact that economic tourism can have. The (Sherman) Town Center development has become destination shopping for people in half a dozen counties stretched across two states. It drives our local economy and keeps our property taxes among the lowest in Texas.”

Plyler said the Schulman’s development, which will be known as Legacy Village, and the Sherman Crossroads development currently under construction on the northwest corner of the Hwy. 75 and FM 1417 intersection could have the same kind of impact on the community.

“Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille will draw people not only from Durant, Gainesville and Bonham, but from Anna, Melissa and McKinney as well,” Plyler said.

Development agreement

The Sherman City Council approved a development agreement with Schulman’s 58 Aggie Development LLC last year that will provide a cash grant of 50 percent of the sales tax generated by the 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 previously said the entire Legacy Village 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.