Sherman continues focus on FM 1417 growth corridor
Note: This story is an update on a similar story written one year ago about this corridor.
In recent years, the city of Sherman has been looking south while looking to its future. City leaders have viewed the FM 1417 corridor as the next big development area for the city going into the next decade.
The corridor, including its intersection with U.S. Highways 75, has caught the attention of developers with some projects already in the works. However, how close to fruition are many of these projects?
Housing continues to lead FM 1417 development
As other projects are in various stages of development, Sherman leaders are emphatic about one point — housing continues to thrive in the area.
Despite the economic slowdown from COVID-19, City Manager Robby Hefton said Sherman has seen a record-breaking number of housing permits in 2020 with the majority along FM 1417.
“Through July of this year, our single family residential permits are up 50 percent,” he said. “As you might recall, 2019’s permits were up over 2018’s numbers as well.
“Really for the last four years running, each year has surpassed the year prior, and 2020 is no exception.”
Of this year’s permits, about two-thirds, or 115, have been somewhere along the FM 1417 corridor, Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.
“Not only is our growth higher than we’ve had in decade, the concentration of that growth is in the southern portions of the city, particularly along the FM 1417 corridor,” Hefton said.
Hefton and Strauch said the growth seems focused primarily on subdivisions including The Preserve, Country Ridge and Brookstone.
Bel Air likely to see residential focus
One of the first locations to see substantial interest was on the southeast corner of FM 1417 in what has become the Legacy Village Development and later the adjacent Bel Air Village developments.
“I would say talks are progressing with Bel Air and our goal and target right now is to have an agreement in place this fall for Bel Air,” Hefton said.
While Legacy Village is being anchored by Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille and adjacent pad development, officials said previously that Bel Air would be a mixed-use development with retail and various residential uses.
“I would lump Schulman’s development and Legacy Village with Bel Air,” Hefton said.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, Hefton said Bel Air may be more residential focused than initially anticipated.
“I would say it is a mixed bag,” Hefton said. “With residential again, we are up 50 percent over last year. So, we have seen no slowdown on the residential side.”
Commercial and retail demands are down for 2020 by about 40 percent, city officials said. One of the early casualties of this may be the planned hotel and conference center which was expected to be a centerpiece for Bel Air.
City officials said last week that the hotel and conference center may not be a part of the foreseeable future and may instead be a part of a future development.
Despite the drop in commercial demand, Hefton said retail and commercial development are often symbiotic. As the old saying goes, retail follows rooftops, and where residences are built, commercial development is soon to follow.
Sherman Crossroads continues to see slow, steady development
If Bel Air needs nearby commercial development, the Sherman Crossroads may meet that demand.
“So, those two projects particularly compliment each other,” Hefton said.
The development located on the northwest corner has seen slow but steady progress over the years with two new developments seeing completion in 2020.
For the future, city officials said Crossroads will likely see a mixture of retail uses with some medical facilities. Earlier this year, the city’s second QuikTrip location opened its doors in Crossroads. Meanwhile, the city’s second McDonald’s opened in 2020 as well.
“That is evidence of them not putting on the breaks for projects that they have going,” Hefton referred to the general cooling of commercial demand.
If residential development were to develop in Bel Air, other nearby developments may meet this commercial need.
In addition to the gas station and McDonald’s, Panda Express also staked its claim on the development earlier this year when it presented plans to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Hefton said there are still talks about a larger medical development on the north side of Sherman Crossroads, but he expects more momentum to occur once the West Travis extension opens next month.
“I think there will be some additional interest in that corridor as well.”
The Village development remains in planning
Meanwhile one of the city’s newer proposed developments, The proposed Village Development would see nearly 600 acres of land developed into a mixture of retail with more than 2,300 proposed residences for development.
The Village is one of the first developments to show interest to the sites along the outskirts of the new Sherman High School site, which is expected to open in January 202.
“There are a lot of developers and interest poking around the high school site,” Hefton said.
Hefton expects interest in this development to begin to grow once the first developers move forward with plans for the site.
“From the city standpoint, we would start seeing the bite when they start coming to P&Z and our planning office regarding plats,” Hefton said. “That hasn’t happened yet, but we do know discussions between home builders, the developers and the Munson’s have been taking place.”
With regard to the potential use of that site, the market demands will decide that.
“That would be largely determined by developers and landowners. With a plot that size, it only makes sense that it would be mixed use,“ Hefton said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.