Shedding a stigma? Kyle aims to lose “bedroom community” status

Wanting to shed the “stigma” of a bedroom community is pushing Kyle city officials to think outside of the box.

By unveiling plans for a special taxing district on the proposed 132-acre, mixed-use Uptown development July 24, Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell believes it could be the key that shifts the city into the 21st century.

For Mitchell, a narrowed focus on mixed-use development is necessary as Kyle continues to expand. It was part of five “pegs” discussed during his State of the City address that Mitchell hopes can keep Kyle ahead of the growth.

According to city of Kyle estimates, the city could cross the 50,000-population threshold by 2019; “conservative” estimates have the city reaching 100,000 people by 2040.

“We are pursuing a development that will elevate the trajectory of Kyle forever,” Mitchell said. “This is how we manage growth. My vision is to once and for all shed the stigma of a bedroom community lost in the sea of urban sprawl.”

The city plans to tackle the issue by creating a Tax Increment Financing district (TIF), which will finance amenities within the Uptown development.

Uptown Kyle, part of the Plum Creek Phase II project on FM 1626 near the intersection of FM 2770, calls for a mixed-use development that could have restaurants, retail, destination retail and Class-A office space. Plans for the TIF is expected to go before the Kyle City Council for a vote at a future meeting.

Mitchell said the idea of a TIF came from several visits he and other officials made to cities, such as Greenville, SC., that successfully used the financing.

However, a TIF is not an incentive, Mitchell said. Instead, areas under a TIF generate money that does not go to the developer or infrastructure, but toward public improvements. Control over where the money goes falls onto a dedicated TIF board, which Mitchell said could be the Kyle City Council.

That board would then be able to “leverage” with other jurisdictions to participate in the TIF as well, so as to double the investment into the development.

“Just doing a tax abatement, I felt like that wasn’t right for what we’re trying to do,” Mitchell said. “We’re wanting to have as much influence in Uptown as possible. The TIF district is the way to keep control of things.”

Dex Ellison, Kyle City Council member, said the city is working to “actively change” the bedroom community moniker Kyle has had. He said it was one of the reasons the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission created the Office/Institutional zoning category.

The motive is to create jobs that keep residents from commuting into other cities. Mitchell estimated roughly 82 percent of Kyle residents commute more than 30 minutes to work each day.

But with a mixed-use focus also brings a need for improved connectivity and walkability, Ellison said.

“The biggest part is connectivity in neighborhoods where people can walk and move without using a vehicle or traveling long distances,” Ellison said.

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