As Jersey Village officials continue to hammer out the details for Jersey Village Crossing—a 274-acre mixed-use, high-density project planned south of Hwy. 290—City Manager Austin Bleess said he has already reached out to a number of developers and conversations are ongoing.

The Jersey Village City Council unanimously approved a preliminary financing plan for a tax increment reinvestment zone—or TIRZ—at its July 17 meeting covering the location of the planned development.

A TIRZ is a special zone that can be created by a city in order to incentivize economic development. It works by allowing the city to place new revenue raised by property taxes within the zone into a special fund that can only be used for improvements inside the zone. The Jersey Village Crossing TIRZ is set to expire in 30 years.

The TIRZ board of directors—composed of seven members appointed by council—met Nov. 29 along with Bleess and council liaison Bobby Warren to discuss the next steps to move the project forward.

“Now that there is an end in sight with [Hwy.] 290, [developers] are starting to become more interested," Bleess said. "The city has been proactive. If we can get the land into [developers'] hands, they could potentially be opening up around the same time [Hwy.] 290 gets completed.”

The general plan for Jersey Village Crossing is based on a master plan adopted by the city in 2010. The plan calls for a mix of residential units, retail, restaurants, entertainment options, office space and open green space.

The zone currently is home to some commercial and industrial properties—including Allied Stone Houston and W Industries—but a large portion of it remains vacant and undeveloped. The proposed plan for Jersey Village Crossing includes a transitional area where industrial and warehouse properties could exist.

The exact shape of the development will be determined over time. Developers will make presentations to the TIRZ board with plans for the land and what economic development incentives they are looking to take advantage of, including abatements for sales, property and hotel taxes. The board will then make a recommendation to council on whether the plan should be approved or rejected.

"It's not one size fits all," Bleess said of the development incentives. "It will all be done on a case-by-case basis to make sure nothing will be detrimental to the city."

The preliminary plan found the total project cost of the TIRZ to be $123 million, which would theoretically be paid with money raised from increases in property values over time. Expenditures include water and sewer costs, road construction costs and acquisition of land, among other costs. Expenditures are not set in stone, Bleess said, and portions of certain costs could be taken on by developers, depending on the nature of the proposals that are received.

Although Bleess said the development plan takes flood mitigation requirements into account, he said he is cognizant of how those requirements might be changing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Around $8 million is set aside for costs related to drainage, and all projects will have to be reviewed by the Harris County Flood Control District to make sure they are sustainable from a drainage standpoint, he said.

The 2010 master plan also took transit-oriented development into account, including potential commuter rail lines being installed down Hwy. 290. The TIRZ board discussed the possibility of transit-oriented development, but Bleess said there is no timeline for commuter rail.

Bleess said certain parts of the plan have transit in mind—including putting parking structures near where commuter rail stops could eventually be located—but business development is likely to take place far in advance of any new transit lines coming in.

"This development does not require transit to be successful," he said.

The TIRZ board will continue to research other TIRZs in Houston and across Texas with hopes of providing a financial plan to council for adoption by its March meeting at the latest. Another TIRZ board meeting, which are open to the public, could take place in January or February, Bleess said.

The boundaries of the TIRZ, along with land owners of various plots, are laid out in the map below: