Colleyville OKs grant for Whole Foods

Posted Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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COLLEYVILLE -- Giving $2.25 million to a developer isn't a gamble when a Whole Foods Market is on the table, it's a sure thing, according to Mayor David Kelly.

The Colleyville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to award a grant from the city's tax increment financing district to Centennial Real Estate Co. of Dallas. The grant will give Centennial $1.5 million in four installments during the first year of renovation to the Village Park at Colleyville shopping center, said Marty Weider, the city's economic development director. The initial work will include putting a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods into a space abandoned by Albertson's in 2007. Another $750,000 will be doled out over a two-year period to help Centennial bring the center up to city code and remodel it to suit new tenants.

"This is an enormous win for the city, for our residents and for shoppers in Northeast Tarrant County and beyond," Kelly said. "It's a defining moment for us in what it means to our commercial sector now and in the long term. We think this will open doors for more great things."

Weider said the city spoke to many prospective tenants during the nearly three years of secret negotiations with Whole Foods real estate representatives and Centennial. A number of premier restaurants and retailers were asked to be patient, Weider said.

"Now we're telling them, 'Come on,'" he said. "It begins to help us reframe the way people perceive Colleyville Boulevard. Retailers realize that. The potential is probably far beyond what we can visualize at this point."

Local surveys repeatedly have shown that Colleyville residents want more grocers, and they asked specifically for Whole Foods, Kelly said.

The 190,664-square-foot shopping center at Texas 26 and Glade Road is ideal for Whole Foods Market, said Mark Dixon, the chain's southwest region president.

When it opens in mid-2014, it will be part of a Whole Foods western expansion, Dixon said.

Plans call for "unique architectural features that combine new modern design with a concept that is consistent with the culture and setting of Colleyville," said Steven Levin, Centennial's CEO.

Those renovations will cost the developer more than $18 million, Weider said. Part of the ongoing talks with Centennial involved negotiating the company down from its original TIF district grant request, which Weider declined to quantify.

Tax increment financing districts are areas where incremental increases in property tax revenue generated by development are used to repay developers for improvements.

Established in 1998, Colleyville's TIF No. 1 is one of the largest in Texas, Kelly said. State law recently allowed the city to dedicate its portion of property taxes generated in the district to create a grant fund that now has more than $6 million.

With Whole Foods as the new anchor, the area is expected to blossom with new retailers and restaurants, Weider said.

"We're looking at a conservative estimate of six years for the grant to pay for itself," he said.

That's almost no time at all, said city spokeswoman Mona Gandy.

"Juxtapose that against the six years that Albertson's has been closed, and that's a pretty good deal," she said.

Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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