Denison is hoping to use new ordinances as a way to attract more developers to revitalize older areas of the city. One local developer already sees it as an encouraging move.
Centerpoint Commercial Properties Representative Bill Wastoskie said it is important for cities to become more proactive in finding ways to attract developers.
"I think it is a very good move for the city, especially for some of these older buildings,” Wastoskie said. “Amazon has really impacted the tenant base. Cities are going to have to get more lenient on some of their requirements to get some of these spaces leased It is a great thing for the city.”
Wastoskie said he has been in talks with retailers who express interest in moving into cities but are concerned over the push towards highway thoroughfares. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find tenants for some of the older buildings that sit on streets away from those thoroughfares.
Wastoskie said the other component cities try to focus on is downtown areas. Those are niche and are more likely home to boutique-style shops, and Wastoskie sees plenty of potential with the new conditional use permit if the city can use it to work with developers to revitalize some of the existing buildings.
Denison City Manager Jud Rex pointed out the conditional-use permit as defined is very narrow, and it could be amended on a case by case basis by the planning and zoning board then city council. But, he said it specifically applies, as written, to cabinet makers and upholstery shops.
Furniture production is not included in the permit at this time.
At the planning and zoning commission meeting where the permit was first discussed, commissioners expressed concern over the ability of manufacturers to abuse the permit. The solution to that issue was to set a minimum 10 percent of the space devoted to retail, keeping in line with the purpose of commercial property. Denison City Planner Bill Medina said at that meeting creating a conditional-use permit was more favorable to rezoning commercial property into industrial in order to allow the city to keep closer tabs on the potential uses of the buildings.
Wastoskie is optimistic for the doors it opens. Anything that helps brick and mortar retail is important, he said. He feels it is difficult to get anything developed that is outside Highway 75.
“We have some land I represent for a local owner by the IHOP that is a difficult stretch to get anything to buy off on this land,” Wastoskie said. “Maybe we can get some of these uses that fit into this category. It's not going to be a pure retail site, you kind of have to stretch the zoning boundaries to get vacant land occupied.”
He said online retailers are continuing to pinch local retailers much like Walmart did to downtown in previous decades. He said cities have to work with developers to find new ways to help retailers. He said it helps the entire community as well as the city by increasing revenue from sales tax and property tax by reviving old buildings.
“I don't see a downside,” Wastoskie said. You can fill existing vacant structures just sitting there deteriorating. You can create more jobs. We always need jobs. It is going to have a positive impact all the way around I don't know if I see a negative. Any time we can make it easier to lease property it benefits the community. We have to try to generate all the tax dollars we can. This streamlines that process.”