Weatherford News

Company to change Willow Park horse track to new development

For years folks have driven past the old Trinity Meadows horse track just off of I-20 in Willow Park and wondered what will ever become of the property.

Now they have an answer.

Wilks Development, out of Cisco, has plans for a mixed-use development that will encompass approximately 224 acres. This includes the former horse track that was open from 1991-96.

The Willow Park City Council recently (Oct. 25) approved the area as a tax increment reinvestment zone. This is a performance-driven economic development tool used to help local governments develop property that otherwise might never be put to use.

"It's really a conduit on the city council's part to develop stressed property," said Willow Park City Administrator Scott Wall.

Basically, if a developer develops property under such an agreement, they can get money back through ad valorem tax revenue, depending on whatever agreement they've reached with the city, county, etc.

"The increment they create, which would normally go to the city, will partially go to the developer," Wall said.

Such funds can be used to help with infrastructure work such as water, sewer and roads.

The decision by the council drew applause from the citizens in attendance.

Being a mixed-use property, Wilks has several plans for what is being referred to as Willow Park North. They include multi-family housing, which began in 2015 continued into this year, and will include more in years to come. There are also plans for single family dwellings, an event center, a bank, amphitheater, hotel, and vertical padsites.

And the cornerstone of the development will be The Shops at Willow Park. They are on the agenda to open in May of 2017, with the amphitheater set for early 2018, developer Kyle Wilks said.

The entire development is scheduled to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of well over $100 million, Wilks said.

"It creates synergy between the commercial and the residential," Wall said.

Though no figures have been released yet concerning how many jobs the project will create, Wall said, "It will be good for a lot of people."

Wall noted the city will greatly benefit just from the sales tax generated at The Shops. Then there are the jobs that will have to be filled in those businesses, along with the constructions jobs that will open as the work to complete the project progresses.

"A lot of people are going to benefit from this, not just in Willow Park, but throughout Parker County," Wall said.

"You've got a distressed piece of property that has become an eyesore and now it will become something we can all be proud of."