Last week the Forney City Council again openly discussed the Gateway development and for the third time Petro-Hunt Vice-president of Real Estate Development Alan Bain confirmed
that a Regional Commerce Center is no longer planned for the Gateway project.
First addressing the Council, Interim City Manager Wendle Medford said “we wanted to provide time for the developer to come back and provide us some additional answers to some crucial questions from the last meeting. Before I turn this over to Alan, I wanted to provide some information to the council and the public as well.”
Medford stated “There are several moving parts to these agreements. And one of the first things that we’re going to be doing is; we are currently undergoing a financial audit on the TIF (Tax Increment Finance Agreement) itself, hoping to have some information available by next month.”
Explaining he said “The second thing is that we are going to be coming before the TIF Board and the Council to recommend bringing a TIF Administrator on board to help us sort out some of the details in here because a lot of this information dates back five plus years. And then the third part of this is that once we have that number from the audit, we’re going to bring in our financial advisor to come up with some type of financial game plan for how we’ll actually fund this.”
After Hunt developer Alan Bain spent considerable time defensively refuting several things discussed during the March 20, 2018 council meeting, he again explained that the Gateway development is currently unable to attract retail establishments to Forney.
Seeking clarification, Mayor Rick Wilson said “We entered into this agreement based on us getting a Regional Commerce Center. And granted you’ve come in and said that the economy was bad and things like that, so it hasn’t happened. But if you look at the contract, we actually entered into this contract, the base of the contract in 2010, 2011 and 2013 with an amendment, and you did another amendment in 2015. So that was way past the economic downturn which started in 2007 - 2008. So we still need to understand the dynamics of why we are not getting a Regional Commerce Center.”
Responding Bain said “We want retail too. We’re not holding back on developing retail. We’re trying our best to get retail.”
Mayor Wilson stated “Our community’s concern is that we don’t feel that complete multi-family; building the whole 663 acres out of multi-family is right because we don’t’ believe our community can sustain it. The school district and everything else, like cutting back on property tax, a lot of things go into this.”
Wilson said “You might not think that five or six thousand apartments are going to hurt our community but the community does. So we hope that there is a way to divert that into something else, but you’re still telling me that the retail commerce center is totally gone. And that gives me pause and concern because what you do have out there is set aside for apartments, multi-family residency. But you can also build mixed-use apartments and also build commercial apartments.”
Mayor Wilson asked “Are you going to classify those apartments as commercial? Because it certainly can be done that way, and then it’s not miscued as the 5,000 units the land was set aside for. Those are the things that concern me.”
Clearly irritated by Mayor Wilson’s questions, Alan Bain stated “Well, I don’t know how else to tell you this. We are not going to build 5,000 apartments. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that.”
To which Wilson stated “Can we enter into an agreement that you’re not going to do it? Because you’ve almost built a 1,000 or you will by the end of this year. Can we enter into some kind of agreement to Phase that? Can we take out the words 5,000?”
Apparently unwilling to consider a revised agreement, Alan Bain responded “I’ve had that right now for eight years and this is all we’ve built so far. And we’re not going to build them all next year. We’re not going to build them all, ever. We may build some town homes, we may build some single family homes but they are not all going to be apartments.”
Citizens wishing to view the entire Hunt presentation and subsequent conversation with the council are encouraged to visit the City of Forney's website.
The below Forney Post photographs are from the January 20, 2015 City Council meeting in which Gateway developers presented project specifics to the Rozell council.
And the video tapes published are from the November 2016 meeting of the City of Forney TIF Board in which Herbert Hunt and Alan Bain extensively described their Gateway development plans.
Written by: Denise Bell