The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission gave initial approval to one of the first commercial developments within Gateway Village when it approved a site plan for a new three-unit retail building Tuesday.


The building, located just north of the future Starbucks location near the intersection of FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75, is expected to bring a mixture of retail shopping and dining to the city’s major mixed-use development, officials said. As the retail building represents one of the first of many expected commercial developments along the intersection, P&Z officials said they wanted to set the right tone for future development with this request.


“I think that it is probably fair that we throw this out on the table that as excited as I am about seeing new development in Gateway — and we’ve been waiting on this for some time — I think the decision we make today will set the precedent for future building,” P&Z Chairman Charles Shearer said. “So, if we have something in mind that we are trying to maintain, we should keep that in consideration.”


The three-unit building would include one suite with an attached drive-thru window set up for a restaurant. The remaining two would be set up for general use and could feature a variety of tenant types, officials said in documents for the meeting.


Mark Huonder, representing N3 Real Estate, said he had a potential restaurant tenant in mind, describing the proposed eatery as casual dining, but said there was no definitive tenant at this time. Among the companies that N3 has worked with in the past are Qdoba, Burger King, Andy’s Frozen Custard and Raising Cane’s, among others. Huonder could not confirm whether the potential tenant was a company it has worked with in the past or a new prospect.


“It might be (someone we’ve worked with), or it might be someone we reached out to to deliver something to the market that would be different,” he said.


With regard to the two remaining units, Huonder said one of the other units could also be used as a restaurant, noting that developers plan to leave the unit open for a variety of uses.


“We are more than excited to be here in the market, and we think that going forward without a tenant is a wise investment,” he said.


The building would feature a variety of styles with building materials ranging from stucco and brick to metal and wood. The site plan featured a variance to city ordinance regarding material to allow for the use of architectural wood along one of the units.


“I believe the goal is to accentuate this one suite on the end,” Shearer said.


Earlier this year, the commission approved a set of guidelines for building materials for future development that required development along highways to be 100 percent masonry, but allowed for a 10 percent allowance for accents. Under the variance request, 14 percent of the front face of the building would feature wood, with 24 percent of the northern side made of the same material.


This prompted concerns by Shearer and Commissioner Matt Looney, who said they would prefer to enforce the requirement as a way of setting the precedent for future projects in the area. Huonder said he had no issues with keeping the wood within the 10 percent allowance and would be able to change the designs to do so.


Similarly, Shearer voiced concerns about the variety of materials being used as it created a contrasting look between the units.


“To me, it is a little too busy,” the owner of Shearer Design & Associates said.


The request was ultimately approved by the commission in a unanimous vote.