Frisco officials find possibilities exciting
FRISCO – Though Frisco council members seemed a little dissatisfied with previous updates by the town’s economic development consultants, they seemed excited Tuesday.
Anne Ricker and Bill Cunningham, of Leland Consultants – the firm Frisco hired to create an economic development plan for the town – joined the Frisco Town Council for the first part of a special worksession Tuesday to update town officials on the upcoming final report.
Ricker and Cunningham spoke to the council about the town’s 10-acre parcel behind Safeway – land Wal-Mart once eyed for a superstore but has since said is too small.
“We’re really trying to give you an example of how the economic development framework can be applied to a specific opportunity, like the 10-acre site,” Cunningham said.
According to Ricker and Cunningham, most big-box stores require about 200,000 square feet. The 10-acre parcel would only provide for approximately 100,000 square feet.
The site isn’t only limited by size – it also has limited visibility, they said. Its visibility from Interstate 70 is diminished because the land sits lower than the highway. And there would be no visibility from Summit Boulevard, as Safeway and neighboring stores would block it from sight.
But that doesn’t mean Frisco officials should discard the 10-acre parcel for potential development, Cunningham said. Instead of considering the property alone, however, they should consider it in conjunction with the surrounding area.
The consultants provided Frisco officials with three options for the area, using Wal-Mart as an example of a big-box retail – though they stressed any large-format retail could be used in its place.
The first option would be to expand Wal-Mart at its current location, without using the 10-acre site. That would involve realigning Meadow Drive behind the store and relocating several neighboring businesses.
The redevelopment costs would run about $2.2 million, but the town would generate an estimated $10.9 million in redevelopment revenue within the first 10 years, the consultants said.
Frisco officials also might consider letting Wal-Mart build a new superstore where the transit center currently sits, they said.
In this scenario, the old Wal-Mart store would remain intact and could be subdivided to other retailers. All the stores between Wal-Mart and Safeway would be demolished (and their tenants relocated) to provide additional parking and so the superstore would be visible from Summit Boulevard. The transit center could be moved west of its current location or to the vacant property on the southeast corner of the intersection of Summit Boulevard and the Dillon Dam Road.
In this case, redevelopment would run about $7 million, consultants said, with $10 million in estimated redevelopment revenue.
Option C was the most elaborate of the suggested redevelopment scenarios, but it also seemed the most appealing to council members.
In this case, the consultants combined the 10-acre site with the transit center and suggested creating a transit-oriented center by constructing a high-density, mixed-use complex – such as a convention center with mixed-income housingand retail – and a park. It also includes expanding Wal-Mart to twice its current size.
“This one’s exciting because it could qualify you for FTA (Federal Transit Authority) money,” Ricker said.
Stability is the key to Frisco’s financial success, Ricker said, and the town must diversify its industries and develop a year-round community to become stable. The convention center would decrease the town’s dependence on its fluctuating retail businesses while also supporting sales and lodging.
“That’s one of your priorities – economic diversification,” Ricker said.
The convention center would support the neighboring lodging facilities and might even allow for additional lodging. This option also provides attainable housing for the town and would support the local transit system – likely bringing more business into the Main Street area.
“(This option) hits so many goals for your community,” she said.
Of course, it also includes the highest tag for redevelopment costs – an estimated $18.3 million. Though the potential redevelopment revenues (over 10 years) also is the highest of the three options, at $23 million, it’s not necessarily going to make Frisco the most money during the first 10 years.
According to Leland’s estimates, the town would have the biggest redevelopment surplus (revenues gained which exceed costs), in the first 10 years, with the first option – $8.7 million. Option C would come in second with a $4.7 million. Option B would offer approximately $3 million in surplus.
Whatever the option, the consultants assured town officials they could expect to pay for any redevelopment – and see some additional revenue – within the first 10 years. And because the redevelopment would be a public and private partnership, Frisco wouldn’t have to foot the bill.
Council members had a number of questions about the various options – including potential risks – but overall, seemed excited by some of the consultants’ recommendations.
Leland Consultants is wrapping up its final report for Frisco’s economic development within the next few weeks. Council members are expected to consider adoption of the plan in May – most likely at the May 20 council meeting, officials said.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or email@example.com
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