Southlake City Council has decided to move forward with a site plan for Carillon Parc that currently does not include a library while the city conducts a library study in the next few months.

In a 5-1 vote Nov. 16, City Council approved site plans that increased the residential and retail space in the park, with land set aside if the city decides to build a new library and performing arts center. Council member Randy Robbins was the no vote and council member Chad Patton recused himself.

Council had asked the developers of the project to explore an alternative design during their Nov. 2 meeting, since the city is currently analyzing responses from a citywide survey shared with residents about their library needs and wants. Mayor John Huffman said the city will be putting a task force together soon to look at the results.

“Southlake deserves a library like what [the developers] have proposed at Carillon Parc. But, as we’ve discussed, we’re fiduciaries for all of Southlake, and I want to make sure—100% sure—that all the citizens of Southlake feel like their voices have been heard by council,” Huffman said. “This is not a 'no.' This is a ‘we want to hear from Southlake’ and let’s see where it goes.”

With plans for a library and performing arts center inside Carillon Parc now on hold, John Terrell, one of the developers of the project and former Southlake mayor, said the spot originally reserved for the library will be replaced by additional residential lofts and retail mixed-use space.

“We want to make sure that we always continue to up the game. We don’t want to rest on our laurels,” Terrell said. “We continue to look at these concepts, raise the bar and when we find things that are better than we did previously, we incorporate them.”

To replace the library and performing arts center, a new residential loft and retail mixed-use building is being proposed instead, which would include 25 lofts, over 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a supporting parking garage. An additional five single-family lots would also be added as a buffer with the rest of the neighborhood, as well as a screening wall to separate the commercial and residential park.

Terrell described these units as “probably the highest price per square foot in Southlake” and said that 50% of the units have already been presold. In total, Carillon Parc will house 108,900 square feet of planned retail and restaurant space.

The new plan would also decrease the park dedication land by three acres and remove the elevated park first proposed in the 2018 plan, although Terrell told council that the functional green space available—around 12 acres—will remain the same.

Carillon Parc developers are also exploring the possibility of partnering with Carroll ISD and Tarrant County College to open a culinary institution, in what Terrell described as a bid to become “a culinary hub.”

Documents presented to city council Nov. 16 show that the new plan would increase the overall taxable value to $350 million, compared to $302 million from the Nov. 2 plan, and would hire an additional 61 employees for a total of 1,261. Developers believe over one million out-of-town visitors would visit Carillon Parc in the first year of opening.

“We could create a normal park and avoid some expenses to the developer ... and to the city,” Terrell said. “But if we’re going to do something special that lives up to Carillon as a whole, and that is worthy of this city, and that is going to compete at a high level ... we gotta do something outside the box.”

Terrell said the developers and the city have agreed to set aside land inside the park for future phases that could be used for a new library if the city decides to put one there.

“Since we understand that the city is a little hesitant to move forward immediately on a library, we want to create an opportunity for a future once you do investigate [the library needs],” Terrell told council. “I totally believe you’re going to come to the same conclusion as was [previously approved].”

As part of their motion to approve the first reading, council agreed that the city must notify the developers by June 30, 2022, of whether a new library will be built inside Carillon Parc.

"As much as it pains me not to have my giant library, I think it's the right thing and the best thing," council member Ronell Smith said. "I think we've learned in this community, when you don't get stakeholder involvement early on, it ends up with pretty bad consequences and I think in the end, we'll end up with a library we can all be proud of."

Carillon Parc was first proposed to the city of Southlake in 2017, but has since been delayed due to a change in development partners and economic circumstances.

Council will hold their second and final reading of the plan in December. If approved then, a ceremonial groundbreaking is expected in early 2022.