The foundations for Academy Sports + Outdoors and At Home will be poured soon as progress picks up at the Shops at Broad mixed-use development at the northwest corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287.
“We are making ice, so that’s a milestone,” Smolinski announced.
The road work on East Broad Street, including the stretch in front of the Shops at Broad, causes traffic delays during rush hour but is on schedule to be completed by August. The six-lane divided roadway will be ready when school starts and the first retailers and the StarCenter open.
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“I drive that way myself, so I’m waiting for that, too,” Smolinski said told the City Council on March 26.
More shops are scheduled to open in September 2019, he said. They will include Flix Brewhouse, an eight-screen movie theater with an in-house brewery. Round Rock-based Flix Brewhouse also plans to open a location in Little Elm this summer.
Belk, a clothing retailer, and 54th Street Restaurant Drafthouse are also announced. Construction on the 330-unit apartment complex is expected to start in July and take about 12 to 18 months to build.
The parking garage for the apartments and the Mansfield StarCenter will also start construction this summer. There will also be an electronic marquee sign along East Broad Street announcing city events and advertising the retailers and activities at the Shops.
The apartments have been one of the biggest sources of opposition since the project was announced in 2016. The council approved the zoning change despite pleas from residents who didn’t want multifamily in the heart of the city. Opponents even put together a petition aiming to put the zoning change on the ballot, but the city tossed it out, saying zoning changes can’t be changed through elections. That cleared the project to proceed with construction.
However, the developer, Atlanta-based Geyer Morris Co., had difficulty securing pipes for the project, stalling work for about six months. During that time, the city also retooled the Shops at Broad, adding a pedestrian promenade with shops and restaurants on either side. The goal was to make it more pedestrian-friendly so it’s not a typical strip center with big-box stores.
The outdoor space also makes it easy for the restaurants to have patios for customers.
The StarCenter had its share of political drama along the way, too, as the city struggled to finance the multimillion-dollar project. There was a $2 million shortfall that the Dallas Stars tried to make up by partnering with the Mansfield school district. When the school board balked, the Stars tried to get an orthopedic surgeon to partner with them, but that also fell through.
Finally, Geyer Morris made a land-swap deal. Mansfield traded land it owned along U.S. 287 near the Fieldhouse USA project for the land where the StarCenter would be built. In exchange, Geyer Morris also gave Mansfield $2 million to make up the shortfall.
Critics of the project have said that the land swap was done so the developer could build the controversial apartments. The problems with the StarCenter continued as the cost skyrocketed another $3 million and the opening of the facility was delayed to September 2018.
Day Miar Road widening planned
Parents with students at Danny Jones Middle School, Mary Lillard Intermediate School and Lake Ridge High School should prepare for major road construction.
Mansfield is planning to widen Day Miar Road to a four-lane undivided roadway from East Broad Street south to Seeton Road, which impacts all three schools. The city hired Wier & Associates and Brittain & Crawford to design the new concrete road for $700,000.
The project includes a drainage system and a water line relocation.
More new homes planned for downtown
What’s old is new again, and nowhere is that more evident than in the historic neighborhoods in downtown Mansfield. Mansfield Custom Homes has built several new homes that blend in with the other 1940s-era architecture in that area.
Felix Wong, who retired as longtime city planner and now works as a consultant, presented plans for two homes in the 200 block of West Dallas Street. The houses will be a minimum of 1,800 square feet on 45-foot wide lots, Wong said.
“Buyers of such houses like an historic area because of the hometown feel,” Wong said. “The fact that it is within walking distance to Main Street is a plus. Some are looking for a smaller lot with less maintenance or are downsizing from a 3,000- or 4,000-square-foot house.”
One of the biggest examples is in formerly vacant block in the 100 block of Alvarado Street behind Fire Station No. 1. Now that lot has five new homes on it.
Wong said they’ve also taken existing homes and remodeled them.
Nicholas Sakelaris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.