A community event and leisure space is intended to transform the space in front of Colleyville City Hall.

The city will use some earmarked money to pay for the nearly $2.8 million project to create a plaza for activities and events, whether it be a picnic or an outdoor concert.

Some local business owners believe the plaza will provide a desired amenity and draw more visitors to the surrounding mixed-use development.

Design plans for this community plaza include grassy space, removable and built-in seating, tables, a fountain, and a shade structure to double as a stage for concerts or other performances. A portion of the budget has also been allocated for potential hardscaping and landscaping improvements at City Hall to match the aesthetics of the plaza. Construction will begin this summer. City officials aim to complete the plaza before Colleyville’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

The plaza is part of the city’s overarching goal to provide more amenities for residents and set a standard of quality for future businesses coming into Colleyville, Assistant City Manager Adrienne Lothery said.

“You’ll find that Colleyville’s focus recently—and will be for the foreseeable future—is on quality-of-life improvements, beautification improvements and opportunities for the community to come together,” she said.

Community feedback

One of the biggest changes residents can expect is the street directly in front of the library will be blocked off from regular traffic and parking, Lothery said. Food trucks will have access there for special events.

Traffic flow will be redirected, and there will be more parking available behind City Hall for visitors. The city is also mindful of noise and light pollution that come with events and will take precautions to accommodate nearby residents, Lothery said.

City Hall and the local library sit on the west side of The Village at Colleyville. The Village consists of townhouses, office space, and dining and retail options.

The plaza could draw more visitors to businesses located in the area, especially with events, said Jay Kim, owner of Village Cafe and Bakery, in an email response. The cafe is one of several businesses in the development. Kim said he saw more customers come in when the Colleyville Farmers Market took place there.

The Village at Colleyville is represented by the Village Owners Association, which is similar to a homeowners association. It represents not only the interests of residents but also the businesses, VOA board President Joe Holtshouser said.

“We fully supported it,” Holtshouser said. “We see it as a benefit for The Village. We see it as something that will draw people over to what we consider the center of The Village and will encourage business growth and encourage more people to want to move here.”

A bonus for potential homebuyers is the development’s walkability, said Pam Slaney. Slaney is one of the founders of 2SBC Development. Her company broke ground in fall 2018 on four modern luxury townhouses at The Village. They are expected to be completed later this year.

“The whole area is developing beautifully,” she said.

Project funding

The plaza will be funded through revenue received from the city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, zone. Tax increment financing is a method that local governments use to pay for improvements in a particular area, according to the Texas Comptroller’s website. A TIF zone is also known as a TIRZ, which stands for tax increment reinvestment zone.

Local officials can draw boundaries around one region in the city, creating a TIF zone. They can then redirect a portion of the property tax revenue collected there to be put in a TIF fund, according to the Texas Comptroller. It is not an additional tax.

Colleyville created its TIF zone in 1998, Lothery said. It encompasses SH 26, the city’s major commercial corridor. In 2012, it was expanded to include pockets of other commercial areas.

The TIF fund is reserved for capital improvement projects that drive economic development, Mayor Richard Newton said. That is a broad category of projects and not clearly defined, but there are limitations on how the money can be used.

A city can also partner with other taxing entities—such as the county or hospital district—to take shares of their tax revenue collected in the zone and to be put it in the city’s TIF fund.

But once a TIF expires, the money left in the TIF fund has to be returned to the other taxing entities, said Travis James, vice president of consulting firm TXP Inc. Or the city could amend its project plan to dedicate the remaining funds before that expiration date.

“When you create a TIRZ [or TIF], you have a finance plan that says how you’re going to pay for stuff, and you have a project plan that says here’s what you’re going to spend it on,” James said. “If there’s more money, they’ll sometimes add projects ... assuming it’s an eligible expense.”

Meanwhile, existing TIF-funded projects include the Colleyville Business Enhancements to Support Transformation, or BEST, program. It encourages business owners to enhance building facades and properties along SH 26 by offering grant money.

The TIF will also provide median beautification along SH 26 and entrance features on the city’s north and south commercial gateways, Lothery said.

“When I talk to people about SH 26, I say this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the quality tone for Colleyville,” she said. “If you want to attract quality businesses to [move to] our major commercial corridor, they’ve got to see the city’s prepared to have high-quality expectations of ourselves.”

Benefiting businesses

If the city and private business owners make a joint effort to bolster the development as a destination, they could see better results, real estate broker Sophie Tel Diaz said. Tel Diaz’s office is located in The Village, and she lives and has real estate experience in Colleyville and surrounding cities.

The plaza and events there could bring more attention to The Village, help the development achieve build-out and help decrease the high rate of turnover it saw in past years, she said.

Von Husbands, owner of Red Barn BBQ, said he is uncertain whether businesses will see a boon in customers as a result of the plaza. His restaurant is outside The Village but less than half a mile from the plaza. But he does think it may bring the community together more.

That is part of what the city hopes to achieve, Lothery said. One of the main ways to do that is by hosting events.

“It really creates that social fabric that knits the community together and creates that small-town, special feel that we all love about Colleyville,” Lothery said.