Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's Going on in Downtown Richardson?

Towne Central map
That area in orange is a sub-area of a tax increment financing district, TIF 1A. It's bordered by Main St, Central Expressway, Greer St, and the DART line.

Changes to the TIF were made at the February 9, 2015, Richardson City Council meeting. The previous plan had only retail as part of the TIF. An update to the plan adds what the city calls mixed-use, but you should probably read that as the addition of two large, single-purpose, multi-family buildings to the other nearby retail buildings.

Details after the jump.

Towne Central chart
This is curiously very specific. Exact square footage is spelled out for restaurants, retail stores, two multi-family buildings (270,000 sq ft and 282,100 sq ft), townhouses, and a (car-centric) motor bank.

Like Sherlock Holmes and the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime, I'm struck by the curious questions asked by the city council members after this presentation. I hear you ask, "What questions? The council didn't ask any questions." And I reply, "Yes, isn't that curious?"

Maybe the council members are better able to read between the lines than I am and didn't need to ask any questions. Or maybe they are psychic and don't need written or spoken words to communicate. Or maybe they have meetings outside the public eye at which all of their questions get answered. In any case, not a single council member asked a single question about this, either in the worksession or in the regular council meeting at which the TIF changes were unanimously approved by the council.

As for me, there's one obvious question (and some follow-ups) that occur to me. Does the curious specificity of these slides imply that that the city is already in negotiations with a developer for this property? If so, who? And has the developer shared conceptual drawings with the city? If so, shouldn't we have seen them before the council approves a major change to a tax increment finance district?

Back to the headline: What's going on in downtown Richardson? Answer: Something's afoot, as Sherlock Holmes might say, but as to figuring out what it is, I'm afraid I'm more Watson than Holmes.

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