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"D/FW, Grapevine consider development plans near airport"
Friday, June 8, 2012
DFW Airport, Grapevine consider development plans near airport
By Steve Norder
The Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram
GRAPEVINE -- Someday, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport could have a four-star hotel
near a proposed commuter rail station, along with restaurants, office
buildings and entertainment venues, including two amusement parks.
That is one vision presented by consultants for developing more than 1,150
acres in the northwest portion of airport property, all within Grapevine's
city limits. But development hinges on the city, the airport and its two
owners -- Fort Worth and Dallas -- agreeing on a host of issues.
Talks have waxed and waned over decades, and once there was an attempt to
have the Legislature step in. Now, however, all sides are seriously talking
with one another.
"The airport and the cities are working in a business relationship rather
than in a political confrontation," Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate said
recently. "We are looking at it seriously now."
Airport officials have given Grapevine a preliminary memorandum of
understanding outlining how project costs and expected tax revenue would be
Grapevine's leaders have been discussing the matter. But no one is ready to
make those discussions public.
The potential for businesses, shops, restaurants, hotels and light industry
is enormous, airport officials say.
A preliminary land use study projected more than 2 million square feet of
office space and 970,000 square feet of retail/entertainment space, with an
estimated construction cost of $1.7 billion.
"It has been called the single best piece of property remaining in North
Texas," said John Terrell, DFW's vice president for commercial development.
"It has access, incredible visibility and will be reached by rail from
Dallas and Fort Worth."
Tate agrees. "It does appear to be very valuable with rail and is
developable," he said. "We have to think it is the best land to develop."
A study by TXP, an Austin-based economic consulting firm, also showed that
the rewards could be substantial.
With a fully developed project, the partner cities could see more than $350
million in tax revenue over 30 years. That does not count property rental
payments to the airport itself, which would not sell the land but lease it
The talks include property between Texas 26 and Texas 121, Bass Pro Drive
and Texas 114, as well as two other airport-owned tracts. One, 272 acres, is
called the Mustang Drive property because that street runs through it from
near Texas 26 almost to William D. Tate Avenue. The other, 85 acres,
straddles Texas 114 between Tate Avenue and east of Main Street. But the
prize is what's referred to as the large "entertainment" tract, near the
future commuter rail station.
Terrell said that with hotels such as the Gaylord Texan and Great Wolf
Lodge, and the entertainment venues already in Grapevine, development on the
nearby airport property would be a natural. "It is not something sitting in
the middle of nothing," he said.
But the first issue is how water and sewer service and roads would be
provided and at what cost.
A study by Freese and Nichols of Fort Worth recommended the installation of
water and sewer lines, which would tie into Grapevine's system, at a cost of
more than $31 million over 10 years. Terrell said the city and airport would
share that cost, but the exact split is still being discussed. Developers
would pay for roads, he said.
Sharing tax revenue has long been an issue between the airport's owners and
the "host" cities of Grapevine, Euless, Coppell and Irving, where the
airport is situated.
In 1998, Dallas and Fort Worth proposed creating a revenue-sharing plan that
would allow host cities to keep collecting taxes at the level that year. Any
increase caused by development in the cities would be shared.
Irving and Euless agreed and a couple of years later the new car rental
facility was built in the Euless portion of the airport. Now the airport is
looking at further development nearby that would include a Hyatt Place hotel
and possibly other businesses. That project, Southgate Plaza, is moving
forward, Terrell said.
Grapevine and Coppell did not accept the revenue-sharing agreement. But it's
on the table as part of the discussions on developing the airport's north
"From a business standpoint, we want a benefit for the people of Grapevine,"
Tate said that he does not want to ignore the potential development but that
he does not want a deal unless if helps Grapevine. "It needs to generate
enough income to lower taxes for the people. That is in the best interest of
the people of Grapevine. That would provide for the services the people
expect," he said.
While Terrell would like an agreement, he also said an understanding with
Grapevine "needs to mirror the agreement with Irving and Euless."
He said that his other position, as mayor of Southlake, allows him to better
understand Tate's position. He has worked to include all the host cities in
the development discussions, especially as a new land use plan is created.
The preliminary draft plan was unveiled to the airport board this week.
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