Mansfield News

StarCenter costs will spike, and opening pushed back

The StarCenter ice rink is now scheduled to open in September, 2018.
The StarCenter ice rink is now scheduled to open in September, 2018. Photo courtesy

Mansfield got slapped with a $3.6 million price hike for the StarCenter ice rink and the facility will open a year later than planned.

The City Council approved the additional expenses Monday after touring the 82,500-square-foot ice rink on East Broad Street near U.S. 287. The rink is now scheduled to open in September 2018.

Mansfield didn’t have much choice on whether to approve the additional funds because the multi-million-dollar additions have already been incorporated into the building’s design.

"I don’t like this change at all. But we’re as far along as that center is, I don’t feel like we have the option to just shut down what we’re doing," said Larry Broseh, who voted against the StarCenter agreement last year. "We have put our foot forward. We must make it happen even with the extenuating circumstances the only logical thing to do is to move forward with the plans we have approved thus far."

Councilman Terry Moore voted against the additional costs and the new lease agreement.

Casey Lewis, a vocal opponent of the StarCenter, urged the council to table the proposal and renegotiate the agreement with the Dallas Stars.

"All the proforma that we did no longer makes sense," Lewis said. "I’m curious where the money is coming from."

The hockey rink is a public-private partnership between the city of Mansfield and DSE Hockey Center L.P., part of the Dallas Stars organization. Mansfield and the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corp. already funded $13.1 million to build the project.

Pete Durant and Associates Inc. is the construction manager at risk for the project. The DSE Hockey Center will rent the facility from Mansfield and operate it.

The rink will host ice hockey leagues, tournaments, figure skating, youth hockey, classes and open skating.

The new change orders

The majority of the new cost, $3.2 million, comes from the ice rink chiller system and components that recycle the energy used to maintain the ice rink. The system also provides heating and cooling for the building, hot water for showers and floor heating.

Mansfield had originally budgeted $2.1 million for the system but the Dallas Stars were still seeking bids on equipment that would meet NHL green initiatives at the time.

The facility has two ice rinks with the larger one on the south side.

Each rink will have a labyrinth of 12 miles of pipeline to keep the ice frozen in the hot Texas weather. For now, the ice rinks are just dirt.

Another expense comes from the addition of a 3,000-square-foot event space that’s already been constructed near the front entrance.

On Monday, the council approved a $419,975 change order to pay for space. The city will issue additional debt to pay for it.

The room could be divided into four spaces for birthday parties or other special events.

The council also approved a new development and lease agreement that allows the Stars to occupy the building in July 2018 and not start paying rent until September, 2018.

The Mansfield Economic Development Corp. will reimburse Geyer Morris for construction of public roads and utilities for the Shops at Broad project. Pushing the opening date for the StarCenter also pushes the deadline for MEDC participation.

The council approved a modified agreement so the MEDC won’t have to contribute to the project yet.

Controversial project

The StarCenter has had a tough road since its inception more than a year and a half ago with several false starts. The biggest problem was a $2 million funding gap. First, Mansfield ISD declined to participate in a deal that would have meant field trips and educational opportunities for students. Then, Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital in Arlington offered to pitch in but later declined.

Finally, last summer Geyer Morris, the developer of the Shops at Broad, resuscitated the StarCenter by doing a land swap with the city. Mansfield traded 4.2 acres along the northbound U.S. 287 frontage road for 5.1 acres in the heart of the Shops at Broad--the land where the StarCenter will be built. As part of the deal, Geyer Morris paid the city $2 million to fill in the funding gap.

Lewis and other residents rallied against the StarCenter and the larger Shops at Broad retail and apartment project a year ago, even trying to overturn the zoning change by putting it on the ballot.

Their biggest opposition was the plan for 330 apartments adjacent to the StarCenter because it would overcrowd nearby schools and roads.

They had enough signatures on a petition to do that but the city attorney squashed it saying zoning changes can’t be voted on in an election.

Now, the StarCenter building is mostly complete but the infrastructure for the rink itself hasn’t been installed yet, leading Lewis and others to just want to see it be successful.

"I don’t want to see that vacant. I’d like to see it finished," Lewis said. "Knowing what we gave up so we could get the Shops here."

Mike Leyman, a former councilman, said he doesn’t understand why the city would pay to build the facility for a millionaire, referring to the Dallas Stars ownership.

"These items in my opinion should be going to the voters," Leyman said.

He also questioned why the project was rushed a year ago but now has been pushed back a year.

Tamera Bounds said the wishes of the residents weren’t discarded last year and aren’t being considered this year, either. She questioned why the meeting room was added and when the Stars would pay rent.

"I"m trying to understand the additional cost," Bounds said. "Now we are here again to revisit this albatros. Rent was supposed to start July 1."

One Lidl approved

Lidl has the go-ahead to build a 36,000-square-foot grocery store on East Debbie Lane just east of Matlock Road. The council approved the zoning change on final vote along with other routine items on the agenda.

A second store on East Broad Street across from Mansfield High School was approved on second reading 6-1 with Moore voting no.

"I think it’s about as good of a fit as we’re going to get," Councilman Stephen Lindsey said.

Mansfield is already grocery heavy on the east side of town and the addition of the two Lidl stores tips the scale farther. Both stores will have four competitors either already existing or approved by the council within a half mile.

Both Lidl stores will be able to sell alcohol without a variance despite the proximity to a church and schools. The one on East Broad Street split the property into two plats so the parking lot that’s closest to Mary Orr Intermediate School is a separate property from the store itself, where the beer and wine would be sold.

Moore said he’s concerned that children will dash over to Lidl after school gets out at Mary Orr and that the store will be able to sell alcohol.

Several residents also voiced concerns over the alcohol sales near the school and the lack of a grocery store on the west side of Mansfield.

Main Street Village get the nod

The council voted unanimously on second reading to approve 77 new townhomes on South Main Street with strict language to discourage them from becoming rental properties.

The third and final vote for the Main Street Village project is set for Aug. 14.

If a homeowner wants to rent one of the townhomes, they’ll have to seek approval from the homeowners association board. Rental terms will be limited to four to six months and the owner must show a hardship case for why it should be rented out.

The homeowners association will maintain a dog park in the middle of the project and a playground on the other side of Sherman Drive.