A large crowd of business enthusiast gathered at a 9.86 acre site, located west of Tin Top Road, to welcome two new retailers to town.
On Friday, representatives from both Academy Sports + Outdoors and Hobby Lobby, broke ground at their respective locations adjacent to each other.
“It’s a very happy day for the City of Weatherford,” said Mayor Craig Swancy. “This is just awesome.”
Academy, the slightly larger of the two businesses, will be taking in 62,000 square feet of retail space and are expected to bring at least 85 new jobs to Weatherford. Hobby Lobby will have 55,000 square feet of retail space and are expected to add at least 30 new jobs to the area.
Pat Sauer of Identity Mutual LLC, developer for the project, said working with the City of Weatherford has been nothing but wonderful.
“I work with Academy and Hobby Lobby in multiple markets,” Sauer said. “From the beginning the city has been supportive, helpful, progressive... all of the things that help get a project done. This is not a small project, it’s not a huge project, but it’s a good project. We’re thrilled to be here.”
Dennis Clayton, Director for the Weatherford Economic Development Authority, said he knows what it means for the community.
“It’s the next step of development for us,” Clayton said. “We’re a regional shopping area already but this will make us a regional destination for shopping. Two great companies, with two great services, that really weren’t here.”
Sauer said they hope to have the businesses open sometime in April or May of 2017.
Councilman Kevin Cleveland said he’s excited.”
“I’m happy to see good quality business coming to Weatherford,” Cleveland said. “These are businesses we’ve been needing.”
Councilman Dale Fleeger said he’s happy to see an increase in the city’s revenue stream without having to raise taxes.
“Were looking forward to more development as a result of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone - (TIRZ),” Fleeger said.
Both Academy and Hobby Lobby are part of a visionary approach made by Weatherford City Council through a TIRZ to address undeveloped areas in the city that can provide remarkable benefits in the future, such as job growth and better quality of life for residents. The City of Weatherford and Parker County Hospital District (PCHD) have agreed to partner for the TIRZ. By law, Weatherford Independent School District (WISD) cannot participate with a TIRZ, but did pass a resolution of support.
“We are very proud and excited for the addition of new retail within the City of Weatherford,” said City Manager Sharon Hayes. “Weatherford is a growing community and the city is taking responsible steps to manage and protect our growth corridor.”
TIRZs are increasingly popular among municipalities in the state of Texas by allowing a proactive approach toward attracting businesses. A TIRZ essentially jump-starts development in an area of Weatherford that may not otherwise develop and adds additional tax revenue back into the TIRZ when property tax values increase. Other tax revenue is also generated from new development within the TIRZ, such as sales tax. Sales tax revenue does not go into the TIRZ, but still benefits the community.
Blake Rexroat, PIO for the City of Weatherford, contributed to this report