Colleyville officials are looking to the north and south gateways—linked by the construction-laden SH 26—to revive the city’s main commercial corridor.
After a project on each gateway failed to take root in 2017, Colleyville Economic Development Director Mark Wood at a Feb. 6 City Council meeting asked the council to approve a development survey for the city’s southern gateway. The results of the study are expected to be brought back to the council in March.
“The study will look at the commercial frontage and see if it redevelops, what it could redevelop to,” Wood said. “What are the steps involved that are necessary to help spur that redevelopment along, and kind of what that process would look like.”
The city’s two gateways pose different challenges. While the southern side is lined with gas stations, car washes and some older stores, the northern entrance to Colleyville is defined by green, open fields, trees and a shopping center.
Wood said the southern portion of SH 26 into Colleyville is a prime candidate for redevelopment, while the northern gateway, which stretches from John McCain Road to Danielle Drive along SH 26, is green space that provides a canvas for new development.
“We want that first impression to be a good one,” Wood said.
Developing the sites for both the northern and southern gateways correctly is something Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton said is an expectation of the residents.
“We talk about excellence a lot, and we want [the gateways]to be excellent,” Newton said. “… We have very excellent, high-quality residential areas, and we also want that to apply to our commercial zones. So, as we do things, that’s the direction that we will be moving.”
With these high expectations the Colleyville government takes a hard look at any new developer that makes a pitch to build in either of these gateways.
“I don’t think it’s an easy ‘yes,’” Wood said about potential projects. “… Our job as staff from the very beginning is to keep the vision, get the projects to the best it can be for submittal so that when it does go to the governing bodies it is a good project.”
Wood said it is the hope that with the correct development, more residents and visitors will be attracted to explore all that Colleyville has to offer.
Rejected and stalled projects
In 2017 two major projects pitched gateway developments to the Colleyville City Council. The first was for a RaceTrac near Bear Creek Spirits & Wine, located at the northern gateway.
At a June planning and zoning commission meeting, the special-use permits sought by RaceTrac were denied. The commission noted that a gas station was not consistent with the vision that the city’s comprehensive plan has for that property.
The second project required a zoning change to allow a Lidl grocery store to open on Colleyville Boulevard at the city’s southern gateway. The planning and zoning commission originally denied Lidl’s request for a zoning change 4-2 at an Aug. 14 meeting, but City Council approved the rezoning request at a Sept. 19 meeting after Lidl developers made some changes.
However, Grapevine resident Ward Hayworth, who owns the southern gateway property Lidl had agreed to purchase, said he received a sale cancellation from Lidl’s law firm in October. He said he hopes the company eventually restarts the project, and that he and his family have high hopes for any project that does choose to develop at that site.
“I’d like something to move there that would interest me and my family as consumers,” Hayworth said. “But commercial real estate development takes a long time, so I’m only going to entertain buyers that fit within the city’s vision for that area, because it will be a lost cause otherwise.”
Lidl officials would not confirm if the Colleyville store is in the company’s plans.
“Our operational focus remains along the East Coast, where we are currently opening and forecasting our stores,” Jessica Haggard, public relations specialist for Lidl, told Community Impact Newspaper in an email. “We have not yet addressed any individual sites in Texas.”
What made Lidl a good fit for this gateway was its unique offerings as well as its aesthetic features, said Susan Mathisen, Colleyville’s planning and zoning commission chairwoman.
“[The store] had some interesting architectural design features,” Mathisen said. “The front of the building as designed is beautiful glass. The rest of the building is brick with limestone integrated throughout to enhance the building and to assist in the blending in with the surrounding community.”
She said the commission looks to Colleyville’s Comprehensive Plan to aid its decision making.
A commercial ‘renaissance’
Construction to widen SH 26 from four lanes to six lanes is not expected to be complete until late 2019, but the city is not waiting for the roadwork to finish before looking to improve the gateways.
“Once the road is finished and it looks beautiful, I think there will be kind of a renaissance of that commercial corridor in Colleyville,” Wood said.
He said city officials are proactively working with developers as they go through the study process, and the goal is to bring both gateways up to the Colleyville standard.
“I think that any commercial developments in Colleyville will look a certain way,” Wood said. “… Now, there will be some minor variations and differences, but I think generally on both ends of Colleyville, southern and northern, you’ll see real high-quality materials, nice architecture, buildings that we can be proud of.”
He said there are some potential developers exploring development at Colleyville’s gateways. Some of these prospective buyers are fairly serious specifically at the northern gateway.
“I would expect some type of plan to come forward hopefully relatively soon on some concepts of what this could be,” Wood said.
In the meantime the city is looking at improving its own streetscape at the southern gateway with some entryway features. This includes enhancing the landscaping and aesthetic features of that area.
“We’re looking at working with the property owners and the private business on how we can partner to create some enhanced entryway features,” Wood said. “The goal is to let people know that you’re in Colleyville.”
At the southern gateway, Colleyville’s neighbor across the highway, Hurst, is making plans to improve its streetscape along SH 26, Wood said. With this in mind, Hayworth said it might encourage a developer to look at the southern gateway.
“Nobody really wants to be the first to sink a lot of money into an area, so I’m thinking that if Hurst redevelops their property across the street, it’s going to make Colleyville a lot more appealing on my side of the street,” Hayworth said.
Once the southern gateway study is completed, Wood said he can work with property owners in that area to find out what their plans are for their properties.
“A lot of them are income-generating properties, so they may have no interest in redeveloping, but our goal is to let them know that if you are ever interested in redeveloping it, let us know and we can match you with a developer who is looking at this site,” he said. “It’s up to them, but we want to be a partner to help if that is ever the case.”
With the development survey, Colleyville will have sketches and concepts of what the southern gateway could look like. Wood said this will help because redevelopment is a longer process than new development.
“You have existing structures, you have fractured ownership, and it takes somebody with creativity and the ability to do [redevelopment], so it’s a little bit more challenging,” Wood said.