By Amira Van Leeuwen
KYLE — In a unanimous vote, city council directed city staff to prepare a development agreement, Public Improvement District (PID) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) for Word Place, a 27-acre Mixed-Use Development (MUD) during its meeting on Nov. 15.
The development will have 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, unique nightlife and sit-down restaurants and 250-300 homes, including courtyard townhomes and luxury elevator apartments.
Word Place will also stimulate job growth in Kyle through job creation and 1.5 million additional tax revenue for the city.
“It’s an economic driver for our community to connect the community both metaphorically and geographically,” said Jeff Barton, Gap Strategies co-founder.
The development is between Marketplace and I-35, with two creeks running through it — an area between old Kyle and new Kyle. It is also Barton’s family farm, which has been blighted due to the challenges caused by surrounding industrial development and road closure due to flooding issues.
“In my family, we’ve decided we want this to be our legacy. We think it meets your vision as well. We hope you want to share that vision and that legacy and leave something to the citizens of Kyle in the future,” Barton said, concluding his presentation.
Mayor Travis Mitchell has been a consistent supporter of Word Place.
“It seems like more and more, as development comes to the city of Kyle, we see the same proposals over and over, and this is definitely unique,” Mitchell said.
Although council member Flores-Cale wasn’t against the development, she was adamant about the development not becoming a TIRZ.
“It’s not necessarily, for me, TIRZ-worthy,” Flores-Cale said.
She was also concerned about the flooding issue.
“Are there gonna be any long-term expenses or concerns that we should have with the flooding in that area that the city is now going to be obligated to take over?” Flores-Cale asked.
Parks and Recreation Director Mariana Espinoza said the city was already maintaining that area.
“Staff knows when it does flood, and we’re prepared to take that over,” Espinoza said.
Council member Daniela Parsley requested for the development to accommodate a community garden and wanted to ensure that whoever was purchasing the land next to the development would continue with the architecture of Word Place.
“Community gardens are one of the first things we talked about,” Barton said. “We haven’t found quite the right place to put it in, but it certainly is a goal of ours.”
Barton also said that they have a detailed design guideline that will help ensure that any other development that comes in also shares the architectural vision of Word Place.
“We’re glad to make those a part of the development agreement, so the city has some enforcement capacity there as well,” Barton said.
City council will meet again on Dec 6 at 7 p.m. for the first public hearing of the Downtown Master Plan at City Hall.