Mansfield will be getting another 275 apartments despite vocal objections from residents and one City Council member.
The 40-acre mixed-use project proposed at the junction of U.S. 287 and South Main Street will also include attached townhomes, single-family homes, entertainment retail and restaurants.
The zoning change was approved 5-2 Monday with Mayor David Cook and Councilman Terry Moore voting against it.
The project will generate $932,000 in property taxes and $646,000 in sales tax at full build out.
Lingering issues include how to fund a continuous southbound frontage road on U.S. 287 and what the apartments will actually look like.
The lack of a frontage road is a concern because of the current traffic, including the wide loads that frequently turn out of the Ramtech Building Systems location, said Mike Slataper, Ramtech owner.
Moore pushed the developer, Scott Polikov, to contribute $5 million toward building the frontage road that will serve the mixed-use development and make it safer for vehicles leaving Ramtech.
Polikov, president of Gateway Planning, said he couldn’t commit to a dollar amount at this point but he plans to meet with regional transportation officials this week.
He said he hopes Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments will elevate the project.
Voting for the zoning change will "create momentum" for frontage road improvements.
Apartments were the other major concern for the night. The developer will return with a site plan with more details, including the mix of retail and owner-occupied homes.
If the council doesn’t like the look of the apartments or doesn’t think they are high enough quality, they could vote them down.
Council members were encouraged that they would have a second shot at the apartments, even though the zoning is officially approved.
"It all focuses for me on the multi-family. It has to be very, very good and we have to know it’s good," said Councilman Darryl Haynes. "It’s like letting our daughter go out on a date. There’s no do-overs."
Moore tried again to encourage the developer to build more owner-occupied homes instead of rental units. Zero-lot line homes and townhomes are attractive to retirees who want to downsize.
"There’s really not too much of a product in this community for them to move to," Moore said, adding that these are high-income earners who are fleeing to other communities.
The mixed-use project originally had 400 units but the developer reduced it to 275 earlier this month. He declined to go any lower.
"If we drop below 275, we think those economics will diminish the quality of those apartments," Polikov said.
Mansfield resident Houston Mitchell called for a moratorium on all apartments until the city can take a closer look at the existing supply and demand.
Other residents also criticized the city for approving more apartment complexes.
But apartments are a critical component of modern shopping centers because of the struggles brick and mortar retailers have had competing with e-commerce, Polikov has said in previous meetings. The multi-family brings built-in foot traffic that retailers crave.
Similar statements were made by the developer of the controversial Shops at Broad mixed-use project at East Broad Street and U.S. 287.
No second Lidl
The council tabled a proposal for a second Lidl store after the landowner met with residents concerned about additional traffic near Mary Orr Intermediate School and Mansfield High School.
The proposal for the German grocery store between Mary Orr and Fire Station #3 on East Broad Street was tabled indefinitely.
Mansfield resident Tamera Bounds attended the meeting at the Mansfield Activity Center and said they had a good discussion with the landowners.
"That area is an awesome area," Bounds told the council. "It’s a sweet spot here in Mansfield."
Mitchell said the owners listened and they’re coming up with alternatives for the site based on the meeting with residents.
Lidl, which is making a big push into Tarrant County, did get zoning approval for a store on East Debbie Lane just east of Matlock Road. Lidl also plans locations in Colleyville, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and Lake Worth.