It’s been about a year since zoning was approved for Carillon Parc, the city’s second high-end, mixed-use center planned at the corner of White Chapel Boulevard and Texas 114.
But nothing has happened at the quiet corner, prompting rumors that the long-promised project had fallen through yet again.
Former Mayor John Terrell, one of the partners developing the project, came to City Council on Sept. 17 to not only kill those rumors but also announce some major changes to the project, now valued at more than $300 million. The project’s overall value jumped about $50 million since last year.
“Rumors of our demise were slightly exaggerated,” Terrell told the City Council. “I know there were a lot of rumors going around that this project wouldn’t happen.”
Terrell partnered with Hunter Chase Construction & Development and plans to close on the 42-acre property the first week of November. Then, engineering and planning will start, which takes about six months.
He said he expects to break ground on the project in late spring or early summer 2020.
The latest concept adds another office building, expands the hotel and will feature a pedestrian-only restaurant and shopping area. The project will go with the topography of the land, preserving as many trees as possible and featuring a number of staircases, each with a different sensory experience.
“I can’t focus enough on how challenging this site is,” Terrell told the council. “Most developers would come in and clear cut the site and make it all one level because it’s a lot easier and a whole lot less expensive.”
The new office building will be 96,000 square feet along the Texas 114 frontage road. The Grand Hotel planned next door will now have 259 rooms instead of 200. Terrell said that instead of having one large hotel and a boutique hotel, they will make one hotel but make it bigger. It will be built into the topography so one side will be six stories while the other is seven stories.
Terrell added that it will be built by a well-known hotel developer.
Carillon Parc wants to attract local businesses, entrepreneurs and incubator spaces and one-of-a-kind chef-driven restaurants. Terrell also wants a culinary school to really give diners something they can’t get anywhere else.
“We’re trying to create something that is unlike anything else in North Texas,” Terrell said. “Something that is experiential. It is not based on national chain retailers and national chain restaurants. It is not intended to be that direct competition with Southlake Town Square but act in concert with Town Square to increase the amount of tourism and people who come in to spend money.”
Carillon Parc will be divided into different zones, each with its own sense of place. The project will have about 100 owner-occupied residential units spread out through the Paseo, the Piazza and the Park zones.
The Paseo and Piazza areas will resemble old European villages with pedestrian-only promenades and retail and restaurants on the ground floor. They will also have smaller tenant spaces to attract more mom and pop-style businesses rather than the same old national chains.
Southlake will move the city library to Carillon Parc and will likely re-purpose the basement of Southlake Town Hall for more city and Tarrant County offices.
The library will back up to a large city park so people can read outside and relax there.
Mayor Laura Hill said this library will be incredible compared to being in the basement of Southlake Town Hall where it is now. It will have easy access for parents with strollers where they won’t have to cross streets, a common complaint of the existing Town Hall.
Councilman Ronell Smith agreed with Hill.
“I may be a little biased but I love how grand you made the library look there,” Smith said. “I can see spending numerous hours there. It’s amazing. It looks like something outside of this country, something you’d see in Europe.”
About one-quarter of the 42 acres will be park land.
The project will have consistent branding with bell towers, sidewalks and trails, rideshare-only areas and stops for a future trolley system.
Everything from the railing, light poles, benches, trash cans and street pavers will be specially designed with the Carillon branding.
Terrell acknowledged that he had to go radio silent on the project for about nine months but that doesn’t mean progress wasn’t being made during that time.
The skepticism from Southlake might be justified.
Many residents in the nearby Carillon housing development bought homes a decade ago with the promise that the mixed-use portion of the project would bring shopping, dining and other amenities within walking distance. But the recession killed the original concept and it’s changed hands multiple times since then.