ARLINGTON — A local developer plans to tear down four aging apartment complexes in north Arlington, not far from the Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium, and replace them with higher quality, high-density apartments.JCKPL, LLC, which is also developing the Viridian master planned community in far north Arlington, proposes to invest about $160 million to redevelop the 31-acre area between the Rolling Hills Country Club and Lincoln Drive over the next several years.To help the deal happen, Arlington City Council approved a multimillion-dollar incentive package this week that includes reimbursing the developer $5.2 million in demolition and site preparation costs, making $5.25 million in public improvements along Lamar Boulevard and at the adjacent Parkway Central Park. It also grants a 90 percent refund on city property taxes on the projects increased value for a 30-year period.Robert Kembel, JCKPL president, said the expense of such a massive redevelopment project, which includes not only new construction costs but paying market rate for the existing complexes only to tear them down, makes it difficult for developers to recoup their investment through rental rates alone. The new development will also feature structured parking, adding to the cost, he said.Without the public-private partnership, the economics dont work, Kembel said.City leaders say they have been actively searching for a such a redevelopment plan, which would increase the citys property tax base, establish higher apartment rental rates in Arlington and likely spur other private investment. In 2006, the city established the Lamar-Collins overlay, a special zoning area designed to encourage private developers to tear down existing apartment complexes and replace them with higher-density, mixed-use developments.Redevelopment is complex and unfortunately expensive, City Manager Trey Yelverton said. If we are going to make a change that fits the vision, its going to require public-private partnership.Unique locationThe citys proposed deal was discussed in executive session by the council and not discussed publicly before Tuesday nights vote.JCKPL proposed to purchase and tear down the Huntington Chase, Pointe of North Arlington, Countrywood and Water Chase apartments along east Lamar Boulevard. Acquisition efforts are still ongoing, Kembel said. The timeline for demolition and details about the number of units for the proposed apartment complexes, which the economic development agreement indicates will be 1,600 or more, is still being drafted. The project is expected to be built in three phases over a period of five to seven years, city officials said.Its a large project that will take time to do it right. Because of its unique location, it has the opportunity to be something very special, Kembel said.North Arlington Councilman Charlie Parker said he fully supported the incentives package, which was approved unanimously Tuesday.I feel as though we are fortunate. Its a miracle to get a developer who wants to come in and spend money by taking old apartments and scraping them all. That is an expensive venture, Parker said. We have waited for years and this deal is really, really sweet for the city. Its not easy to get $160 million invested in your community.Performance basedThe four existing apartment properties are currently appraised at about $12 million combined, Yelverton said, which nets the city about $78,641 in property tax revenue annually. The city anticipates collecting about $108,000 in property tax revenue on 10 percent of the new developments appraised value during the 30-year agreement period, Economic Development Manager Bruce Payne said. The 10 percent will net a greater value than what we currently receive, Payne said.City leaders say they are minimizing the investment risk by reimbursing the developer for demolition and site preparation only after the work is done and making the other incentives performance based. Parker said the city will benefit even if the developer does nothing more than buys and tears down the existing apartments, which are decreasing in value. Kembel said the new development will be designed to age gracefully compared to the existing multifamily product, much of which was build in the 1970s and 1980s, in north Arlington.If we do our job right, 30 years from now this is still a quality housing environment and doesnt fall into the kind of disrepair that is currently in some of the units folks are having to live in today, he said.Stakeholder input will be gathered to develop an improvement plan for the city-owned Parkway Central Park, which lies north of the project, Kembel said. The developer also seeks to create walking trails along Lamar Boulevard and around the complexes.The idea is to create a more active environment. There is a palette to create some trail systems and plant more trees and organize the fountains and create for that whole region right there a hub park system that is a little more exciting to experience, Kembel said.Payne is among city leaders who anticipate that the project, which would feature higher rental rates per square foot than existing multifamily properties, will promote other redevelopment in the Lamar-Collins area.Were hopeful that the example that is set here will demonstrate this product works here and we will have other developers want to do similar things, Payne said.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock