The Shops at Broad project could revive the once-dead Dr Pepper StarCenter project in Mansfield, giving it a new location inside the 81-acre mixed-use development at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287.
But first, the City Council will need some serious convincing to approve the 330 apartments that the developer says are necessary to provide foot traffic for the shops and restaurants.
The council unanimously approved the zoning change on first reading late Monday night, but urged Geyer Morris, the company developing the project, to work with the neighbors on Carlin Road who showed up to oppose the project. The project returns for a second reading on July 25.
This third iteration of the Shops at Broad may not be what the council and residents had envisioned for the site—a decade ago another developer had grand plans for 750,000 to 1 million or more square feet of retail. Councilman Cory Hoffman said this is the reality of retail development today.
“Retail has been affected by Amazon,” said Hoffman, referring to the online retail giant that’s building massive fulfillment centers all over North Texas. “You’ve got a unique piece of land here. Bricks and mortar, they want frontage. They need to be able to be seen from the streets. You have to put them in proximity to the street and still have the required amount of parking needed to service those areas.”
The residents’ main objections were to the four-story apartments, which would overlook houses, and drainage concerns, since all the water flows north.
The council also voted unanimously to hire Pete Durant & Associates as the construction manager at risk to build the StarCenter. The Fort Worth-based company set a maximum price of $12.5 million and will collect a fee of $750,250, about $90,000 cheaper than Lee Lewis Construction’s fee.
The council also voted unanimously to signal its intent to issue a maximum of $3.5 million in bonds for the StarCenter this fall, which would allow construction to begin.
City attorney Allen Taylor said neither hiring the construction manager nor signaling the intent to issue debt locks the council into the StarCenter at this point. The fate of the ice rink hinges on the zoning being approved, which requires two more votes.
Tyler Morris, a partner with Geyer Morris, said they are looking at several high-end retailers and restaurants for the 405,000-square-foot project with the StarCenter at the heart of the project and the apartments on the north end.
The center will have three main anchors, including a sporting goods store, a department store and another anchor. There will be several junior anchors and other smaller shops throughout. The sporting goods store would be located south of the proposed StarCenter site.
The plan shows six restaurants lined up along the U.S. 287 frontage road. Most of them have patios. It would be limited to two fast-food restaurants.
Mansfield came close to getting a Dr Pepper StarCenter ice arena earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart when the Dallas Stars asked the Mansfield school district to contribute millions of dollars to the project. It was proposed next to the FieldhouseUSA site north of the Shops at Broad.
Rents for the apartments could be as high as $1.60 a square foot with the average unit being 1,000 square feet. That would be the highest multi-family rent in Mansfield, even higher than the Villas di Lucca, which rent for $1.30 a square foot.
The apartments are meant to appeal to white-collar workers such as teachers, nurses and police officers.
But Steve Nelson, who lives just north of the apartments, said the apartments should be placed on main thoroughfares, not next to established neighborhoods.
“Everything will go downhill,” he said. “I’m very concerned about my quality of life.”
Geno Fenoglio, who also lives on Carlin Road, said the apartments will put a burden on Willie Brown Elementary School. He called the project an “overgrown strip mall” with a sea of parking and a taxpayer-funded ice rink.
He said he would prefer a five-star hotel with a conference center to bring daily traffic to the project.
“Nothing in this development attracts me,” Fenoglio said. “It’s been pretty quiet about how the StarCenter became part of this.”
There’s also a parking garage with 652 spaces on four levels between the apartments and the StarCenter site.
The mixed-use development also features several common areas where people could congregate around fountains or other amenities.
The intersection of Regency Drive would get a new traffic signal and would become the main entrance into the project. The Walnut Creek Linear Park will also be extended east from McKnight Park east through the Shops at Broad. The city’s long-term plan is to extend the trail to the Oliver Nature Center on Matlock Road.
“People could easily come and use this as a trailhead to go into the hike and bike trail,” Morris said.
Storage center denied
The Mansfield City Council rejected a controversial proposal for a 578-unit storage center on East Broad Street near Willie Brown Elementary School.
More than a dozen speakers came out to oppose the storage center saying it will devalue their homes, cause safety concerns for the elementary school and set a bad precedent for future development.
Bottom line for the opponents—a three-story storage center doesn’t belong on prime real estate at East Broad Street and Cannon Drive.
The majority of the council sided with the residents, voting 6-1 to deny the project. Storage centers are not allowed in that part of Mansfield so the landowner, Danny Ray, who also owns the nearby Ray’s Pharmacy, had requested an amendment to allow it.
Councilman Darryl Haynes voted against the motion to deny the project saying he remembers when the city voted to prohibit storage centers on that property. He said he believes this project was much nicer than the typical storage unit.
“I don’t consider it what we were trying to exclude,” Haynes said.
Councilman Stephen Lindsey, who lives near the site, said Ray should take notice of the strong opposition to the project.
“I would want these people to come to my business. It seems somewhat of turning a deaf ear,” Lindsey said.