Jersey Village Mayor Bobby Warren fielded dozens of questions from residents Dec. 5 at a town hall meeting on the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 2—the future site of a new City Hall building and mixed-use development slated to offer retail, restaurant, housing and entertainment options at Jones Road south of Hwy. 290.

This spring, the city commissioned Convention Sports and Leisure International to conduct a study on the feasibility of a baseball stadium at this site. The firm recommended a 4,500-seat stadium based on the location and the surrounding area’s demographics. Officials said the stadium could draw 225,000 total attendees annually to sporting events, concerts and other family-friendly events.

At the Dec. 5 town hall meeting, residents expressed concerns with this proposal, including potential noise produced from the stadium, environmental hazards that may be present at the site and the chance the project would not be profitable. Warren responded to each of these.

“I think people would be very impressed with the natural beauty that accompanies the development,” he said in response to a citizen’s concern about losing trees. “It definitely is going to be a lot better than if we had not bought this land and had that paved over with car lots for dealerships and warehouses.”

Some residents also expressed their desire for City Council to allow residents to vote on whether they want a baseball stadium, but Warren said state law and the city’s charter does not permit elections on projects unless the city is incurring debt through a bond referendum.

“We may not be able to have an election on this, but if we didn't care what citizens thought, we wouldn't be sitting up here now; we wouldn’t be sitting up here again in a few weeks; we wouldn’t be taking phone calls and email, and all the things we do in order to get as much input as possible,” he said, noting a second town hall is scheduled for Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.

The TIRZ 2 timeline

City Manager Austin Bleess recapped the property’s background dating back to 2008 when the city contracted with Kimley-Horn and Associates for the mixed-use/transit-oriented development plan. About three years later, the city adopted development regulation codes based on that plan.

Bleess said in the following years, additional restaurants, services and entertainment options would become the top priority for economic development based on resident feedback.

The city purchased 33 acres of land along Jones Road in 2018 for $8.2 million and entered an agreement with Collaborate the following year. Due to a lack of progress on the development, the city canceled those agreements in 2021.

Early this year, the city signed a nonbinding letter of intent with a real estate investment firm called KHJR. The group plans to develop the property with a baseball stadium, a new City Hall, high-end multifamily housing, retail, a hotel and an 80,000-square-foot family entertainment center featuring bowling alleys, virtual reality studios, rock-climbing walls, mini-golf, arcades and other family-friendly activities.

In July, the American Association of Professional Baseball submitted a letter of interest to the city. The city continues behind-the-scenes discussions and negotiations while accepting resident input. Warren said he hopes to be able to reveal a potential ownership group early next year, but binding decisions on the development are still about six months away.

Chris Kay, a partner with KHJR, said the first phase of the project would be completed in 2025 at the earliest.

Local impact

Bleess said the development’s potential to elevate the city’s retail, dining and entertainment offerings could also encourage redevelopment elsewhere in the 270-acre extraterritorial jurisdiction and increase the city’s tax base.

“The stadium would draw in people from outside of Jersey Village, bringing them in to buy at restaurants, to stop at breweries or gas stations—[it] would bring them in to spend their money here,” Bleess said.

When the project is fully built out, the city is expected to receive $1.3 million in property tax revenue, $160,272 from sales tax and another $148,803 in hotel occupancy tax annually, Bleess said. Additionally, the city’s fire control and crime control districts would also receive an estimated $160,272 in sales tax annually.

Plans propose the Jersey Village local government corporation, or LGC, own or lease the stadium. A local government corporation is similar to a limited liability company, or LLC, in the private sector, Bleess explained, and he said this structure would protect local taxpayers as any debt or obligations would not affect the city.

KHJR would purchase the 33 acres owned by Jersey Village for $8.3 million, minus land reserved for City Hall and the stadium.

Council Member James Singleton pointed out there is plenty of interest from developers seeking to purchase the land for warehouses or low-end apartments. However, these projects would not generate as much revenue for the city in the long run.

Bleess said if this land were to be developed for industrial purposes, it would generate about $358,000 in annual property tax revenue compared to the $1.3 million projected from the baseball stadium.

Council member feedback

All City Council members except Jennifer McCrea were present at the Dec. 5 meeting and contributed to the discussion. Council Member Michelle Mitcham as well as the mayor both mentioned they were skeptical of the idea of a baseball stadium when they first heard it but now support the plan based on information presented to the council behind the scenes.

“We have a lot of conversations [in closed session] that I wish we could just tell everybody everything we know, but for legal things and red tape we have to do it piecemeal by piecemeal. ... Trust me that I have been won over after reviewing everything and reading the data,” Mitcham said.

Still, Singleton assured concerned residents the project is not “anywhere close to a sure thing” at this point, and officials are open to citizen feedback.

Council Member Sheri Sheppard said while residents may want to see something other than a baseball stadium at the site, she believes it makes sense based on the “challenge” the property presents.

“Unfortunately, that piece of property on the other side [of Hwy. 290] presents a challenge because of the railroad, and it really is a barrier to the type of development that we all had hoped to have over there. Because of how it’s laid out and because of the railroad, you're never going to have an H-E-B that's going to want to come and develop that property,” Sheppard said. “So this is very much a way, because the railroad is not going to impact a stadium, ... to spark that development and change the characteristic of that piece of property over there.”

Watch the full town hall meeting here.