Sherman, Bel Air Village to shake hands on 288-acre, $500M development

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The city of Sherman has reached a development agreement with developers of a new 288-acre development along FM 1417. Final paperwork will be signed during a special meeting Friday at city hall.

After more than a year of talks and negotiations, the Sherman appears to be ready to shake hands with developers with Bel Air Village. The City Council will hold a special meeting at 11:30 a.m. Friday to discuss a master development agreement that would push forward work on a proposed 288-acre mixed-use development along FM 1417 that could feature about $500 million in private investment. 

Once developed, the project promises to bring a mixture of retail, residential and a major water feature to south Sherman.

"This meeting will represent the culmination of really 18 months of work behind the scenes by city staff and city council to negotiate what we hope will end up being the largest residential development in the city's history," Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will help finance infrastructure improvements that will serve the development. This will include services ranging from major road connectors to water and sewer improvements.

Strauch estimated that the city's portion of the project at between $7 million and $10 million. However, the agreement allows the city to funds these improvements over time rather than investing at once with the promise of development.

"We are not committing to the entire bite of the apple up front," Strauch said. "We are only committing to take as many bites as the developer takes and to take them at the same time."

These improvements will be financed using Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #7, which sets aside a portion of the property tax revenues within the zone specifically for improvements inside the district.

Development of the project will likely be phased, with the first phase comprised of about 300 residential  lots that the city will supported by the city through a north-south thoroughfare. 

The second phase will transition to commercial mixed with multiple apartment complexes and the water feature.

"It will be dissimilar to anything that has been seen in the region," Strauch said regarding the water feature. "You could go down into the Metroplex  to see these lagoon-type features, but for Grayson County this will be an absolutely exceptional amenity."

The third phase will see a return and ramp up of residential development. However, Strauch said this could potentially be more than the first phase.

"So rather than talking about 300 homes, we could see upward of 1,000 homes," he said.

Since early 2019, city officials have discussed the possibility of a new development just south of the intersection of FM 1417 and U.S. Highway 75.

Over the past year, the project has evolved to include a lagoon-style attraction that would be open to the public, along with rumors that it could also be the home of a new elementary school. Meanwhile, a proposed conference center and hotel were quietly removed from plans over the summer due to the economic downturn and difficulties seen by the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is true that 2020 has turned everything on its head with the one exception being housing," Strauch said. "We have seen no drop off in demand for single family housing in the city and believe there has actually been an increase over the past year as people look to relocate to locations with a lower cost of living and the same quality of life."