Mansfield has two Chick Fil A restaurants, a bookstore, six high schools, a pair of huge residential developments on the way, and Jason’s Deli has finally opened. But the community could be running short in another area, even though most residents wouldn’t know it -- industrial space.
“We are dangerously low on property that we could have someone build a plant here,” said council member Darryl Haynes. “We have to have a balanced economy in Mansfield. If we stop building our industrial base, we are hurting ourselves.
“It’s three legs of a stool: commercial, residential and industrial,” Haynes said. “No matter what the national economy does, if you falter in one area, the other two prop it up.”
The city has been actively recruiting industrial businesses, landing Klein Tools in 2011 (which has already expanded to include a 100-acre site), and now is looking at a shortage in industrial space.
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“The easy pieces are gone,” said Scott Welmaker, the city’s director of economic development. “We do have some industrial area, we are just going to have to get more creative.”
Mansfield has approximately 129 industrial businesses in the city limits that employ about 4,431 people, and most are hiring, Welmaker said. The city has approximately 1,971 acres zoned for industrial use, but that includes 202 acres currently being considered for a residential development.
There are a pair of 30-plus acre sites under contract for industrial use, and only a few sites zoned for industrial left that are more than 20 acres, he said. That’s a problem, Haynes said.
“If we have another Klein Tools, we better have a place to put them,” he said.
There are options, Welmaker and Haynes said. There are some sites already zoned industrial, but they are going to take some work to make them usable, Welmaker said.
“Industrial land needs to be wide open, flat and relatively cheap,” Welmaker said. “Industrial users want large tracts that are not priced at retail prices. And they need to be compatible with adjoining property. You can’t put them next to half-million-dollar homes.”
There are several tracts of land that could be used as industrial space, he said, but the city doesn’t own them, and the land is not currently zoned for industrial use. The city could work with the owners to develop those properties, Welmaker said.
The city could also look at annexing tracts of land outside the city limits for industrial space, if the property owners were interested, said Haynes, the council’s liasion to the industrial division.
“We need to start growing industrial plats,” Haynes said. “It takes two to three years to happen. You have to have the acreage, and people to buy the acreage. I want some developer to catch the spirit.”