In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Killeen City Council members approved rezoning more than 200 of acres where a proposed mixed-use development will be built.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Killeen,” Mayor Pro Tem Ken Wilkerson said. “I don’t see too many projects come before us that is an opportunity to grow our city the way we’ve been wanting to do it for decades now.”
Councilman Riakos Adams joined the meeting remotely but was unavailable during the vote.
Killeen officials and prospective developers have been talking about such a project for more than a decade. Construction of Anthem Park, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, could be complete in as little as three years.
“I really appreciate the staff’s work,” Kevin Hunter of CSW Development of Austin said. “I’m really excited about this regional project. I really wanted to thank the council and the staff for the continued efforts we’ve had since June.”
Mayor Debbie Nash-King also thanked Hunter.
“The council is also excited,” she said.
The last time Killeen officials considered such a development at the site north of I-14 near Rosewood Drive was in 2018, when it was called the “gateway project” but was half the size.
Like the Anthem Park project, the last proposal included commercial and residential properties, but officials at the time had “reservations about the city’s ability to recruit 103 acres of commercial development,” then-City Planner Tony McIlwain said.
Anthem Park includes the La Cascata addition. More than six years ago, the La Cascata Shopping Village — a proposed 210-acre commercial and residential development, was scheduled to open near Skylark Field. But it has remained undeveloped after about 15 years of planning.
‘A major deal’
“This is a major deal for our city,” Councilman Michael Boyd said. “It’s going to be a regional attraction. I’m very much excited about supporting this.”
Councilwoman Jessica Gonzalez said that “people are watching us.”
“Vendors are watching us,” she said. “Companies are watching us. (It’s) change that we’ve been hungry for and now on the cusp of. My hope is that they will see us. We do have the dollars to ... support something like this.”
Anthem Park would include 39.3 acres of commercial and retail space; 9.1 acres of office, flex and storage space; 91.9 acres of multifamily apartments; and 62.9 acres of built-to-rent mixed residential.
Construction of commercial properties could be complete within three to five years, and that of residential properties could be done within five to 10 years, according to the developer. It is expected to begin by the end of the year.
‘We are progressive’
“We are progressive, and we are moving forward to enhance the quality of life for our (residents),” Nash-King said.
Councilman Jose Segarra complimented the Killeen Economic Development Corporation for its involvement in the project.
“They’ve been working hard on it,” he said. “Sometimes, they don’t get credit. Sometimes, it takes years to get these projects but they just hang in there.”
On Feb. 6, Planning and Zoning Commission members approved a request by the developer to rezone 203.2 acres for the planned unit development.
The Herald reported in May 2018 that John Crutchfield, then the executive director of the EDC, said that widespread closures of national retailers such as Kmart and others were causing delays in completing the development.
Crutchfield’s successor, Scott Connell, joined the EDC last September.
“When I got here, it was working through the issues primarily through the city,” he’s told the Herald. “We’ve been consulting with them on a variety of issues on the commercial market aspect of it and understanding what they need. Mostly, we’ve been kind of on the periphery of this one. (The city is) focused on the planning aspect and (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) aspect.”
Tax increment financing
Municipal and county governments use tax increment financing “to pay for improvements that will draw private investment to an area,” according to the Texas comptroller’s website. It “redirects some of the (property tax) in a geographic area designated as a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) to pay for improvements in the zone.”
In December, Killeen City Manager Kent Cagle told the City Council that CSW Development “is talking about a tax base of about $550 million” and that “they were expecting that their reimbursements were going to be significantly higher than the $14 million that we had in (the project plan).”
According to the state comptroller’s office, “future tax revenues from each participating taxing unit that levies taxes against a property are used to pay for the cost of improvements to an area. Each taxing unit may dedicate all, a portion of, or none of the tax revenue that is attributable to increased property values brought about by improvements within the reinvestment zone.”
Additional tax revenue received from the impacted properties is what’s referred to as the tax increment.
“Each taxing unit determines what percentage of its tax increment, if any, it will commit to repayment of the cost of financing the public improvements,” according to the comptroller.
In this case, the taxing entities are Killeen and other local government agencies.
I don't see why we cannot get some industry here in this town! That would be a good place to put industry as it backups close to the industrial center. We need some industry to help support our economy instead of restaurants, liquors stores, and the like. I know that access to the major highway is a pain for that part of town, but can be accessed by way of 439/Rancier. Why can't we bring in a factory to produce tank parts or munitions? We have Fort Hood right here, what a no-brainer! We need to have another large employee to put a lot of people to work, instead of lots of places to spend the money. If we go to war again or if Fort Hood bugs out, we will turn into another ghost town like we did in Desert Storm. Bring in the industry city council!!
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