Details remain scarce on the composition of a potential Killeen “gateway project” that could come to 103 acres on the frontage road of Rosewood Drive in Killeen, near the city limits with Harker Heights.
The Killeen City Council considered last week a land use map adjustment request from KNC Associates for a parcel just south of Interstate 14 on the east and west frontage of Rosewood Drive to allow mixed commercial and residential use.
It’s an area many motorists see when they first drive into town from the east — lending to the term “gateway project.”
The land, currently designated for suburban commercial use, is undeveloped and surrounded by residential neighborhoods.
On Tuesday, city planner Tony McIlwain said the land use adjustment would allow the land’s developers to tailor fit the development to market estimates. The current plans for the land would include commercial properties along the Rosewood Drive frontage with single-family or multi-family housing to the east and west of the road.
“It has the potential to be very attractive,” McIlwain said.
Although the entire parcel was meant for commercial use, McIlwain said a dip in retail nationwide had cast doubt on the feasibility of the entire acreage being utilized for commercial purposes.
“We have reservations about the city’s ability to recruit 103 acres of commercial development,” McIlwain told the council.
The city’s reservations could be well founded.
La Cascata Shopping Village, a 210-acre commercial and residential project with 355,000 square feet of retail space near Skylark Field on Veterans Memorial Boulevard has remained undeveloped after nearly a decade of planning.
In September, John Crutchfield, executive director of the Killeen Economic Development Corporation, said a drop in retail was causing indefinite delays to the development’s build out.
“The retail world is in a turmoil,” said Crutchfield, pointing to store closures of national retail companies like Kmart and others.
Crutchfield said La Cascata’s developer — The Retail Connection — had secured retailers, but some of them pulled out. The developer will not begin building out the development until enough retailers had been secured, Crutchfield said.
McIlwain said KNC Associates hoped to entice some of La Cascata’s withdrawn retailers back into the city with the new project and said the company was open to accommodating city requests for green space and, possibly, a connection to hike-and-bike trails.
“Despite some concerns from the developers, they were willing to sit at the table with us and hopefully buy into a joint vision,” he said.
Council members expressed concern over the impact of new traffic at the development and asked for transparency in the development’s layout if the project progressed.
McIlwain said many of the questions over traffic impact would be answered during the development’s zoning and platting process. On transparency, McIlwain promised a more involved process with council than other forms of development.
“You’re going to see far more detail than you would with a subdivision plat,” McIlwain said. “We’ll take it at your pace.”
The council will vote on the land use adjustment at its regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 101 N. College St.