While the website for a new Killeen shopping center development still lists the completion date in 2017, construction has yet to begin for the planned development that has been discussed by city leaders for at least nine years.
La Cascata Shopping Village, a 210-acre commercial and residential project with 355,000 square feet of retail space, is set to open this year, according the website for the The Retail Connection, the Dallas-based developer in charge of the project.
But as of Friday, the land near Skylark Field where the shopping center is slated to go was still covered with grass and bushes. About the only evidence of the proposed development was a coming soon sign for Tuesday Morning, a chain store that sells household goods. The sign has been there for more than year.
“Sixty-four acres of La Cascata is planned to be developed into a retail shopping, restaurant and entertainment destination anchored by a full service grocer and power center junior anchor line up,” according to The Retail Connection website.
Calls to The Retail Connection were not immediately returned Friday.
The shopping center was scheduled to start construction in 2016 with a proposed completion in late 2017, a development official said last year.
John Crutchfield, executive director of the Killeen Economic Development Corporation, said Friday he has not spoken to the developer in a while, but he said he knows what the delay is.
“The retail world is in a turmoil,” said Crutchfield, pointing to store closures of national retail companies like Kmart and others.
While Amazon and the online shopping world has grown, some brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to find success as retail shifts more and more to digital platforms.
Crutchfield said The Retail Connection had secured other retailers — in addition to Tuesday Morning — to move into La Cascata, but some of them have already pulled out. And the developer won’t start construction until they have enough retailers promising to move in.
“They’ve got to have critical mass,” Crutchfield said, adding getting retailers to commit in recent years has been increasingly tough.
The development is on the western border of Skylark Field near U.S. Highway 190 and East Stan Schlueter Loop.
“The retail space will house from 60 to 100 tenant businesses when the center is completed,” Chad Bradshaw, a vice president with The Retail Connection, the site’s developer, said last year. He couldn’t be reached Friday
Last year, Bradshaw said the project’s budget has increased due to higher labor and material costs, but could not give a specific amount.
Future build-outs could increase the size of the development to 210 acres, and include residential and more retail outlets.
Killeen government officials have been in talks with the developers for years, and the city reached a complicated agreement with the developer in October 2015.
The agreement provides the developer with $8 million from Killeen’s tax increment reinvestment zone fund for eligible project costs such as off-site streets, water and storm drainage.
However, the developer must create a taxable appraised value of at least $37 million within one year after the first payment date, $50 million within two years after the first payment date, and $55 million within three years after the first payment date and throughout the balance of the tax increment reinvestment zone’s term, according to the agreement information provided by the city.
No revenues will be paid to the developer if the taxable appraised value drops to less than 60 percent of the annual projected appraised values in any given year.
According to the agreement, the first payment will not be made until a year after the opening date or 75 full-time jobs have been created — whichever occurs later.
The city also will provide a maximum of $3.6 million in sales tax rebates by giving the developer an annual sales tax rebate of one-half of 1 percent collected by the city, according to the agreement.
Payments will not begin until the developer completes the construction of $5 million in new capital improvements and all public infrastructure.
The development also must generate at least $100,000 in city sales tax revenues and create 75 full-time or 300 part-time jobs, according to previous Herald stories.
As of Friday, the agreement between the city and the developer still stands, Crutchfield said.