Council gets preview of Uptown Kyle

There won’t be any skyscrapers, but the firm hoping to develop Uptown Kyle at Plum Creek says its project will tickle the town’s highest ambitions.

The mixed-use project with roots going back 20 years is moving closer to reality.

The Kyle City Council has directed city staff to bring back action items related to Uptown Kyle at Plum Creek, envisioned as a blend of apartments, shops, offices, restaurants and a hotel/convention center clustered around a public park and possibly including a new home for the police department.

It is intended as a destination, a “draw” to bring people from out-of-town who would stay at a local hotel, shop in local shops and eat at local restaurants.

Moreover, a representative of Momark told council, the look and feel of the project would be “inspired” by downtown architecture and built on land donated by the Negley family.

“We love the originality of Kyle and Central Texas. We want to create a strong mixed-use environment and engaging urban streetscape,” Steven Spears of Momark told the council as he presented a series of slides illustrating what the “live, work, play” project could look like.

It would have as its heart a 1.67 acre urban park and include 300 residential units, some 8,000 square feet of retail with 20 foot ceilings, buildings no taller than four stories, a 6,000 square foot amenity/fitness/wellness center, a swimming pool and other outdoor amenities. The retail area would “spill out” into the park.

If a police station is included, it would be paid for out of the general fund and possibly a 2020 bond election. Other funding would come from local and state hotel occupancy taxes and still other portions of the project would get = money from a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ), a funding mechanism created in Texas to allow cities and counties to subsidize projects without raising taxes.

TIRZ funding, the developers said, can be used for improvements including streetscapes and transportation, public art and water features, parks, plazas, trails and pedestrian connectivity, public parking facilities, signage and lighting and “festival amenities.”

The presentation drew a favorable response from council members and several others who spoke up during discussion.

Julie Snyder of the Kyle Chamber of Commerce said Uptown excites her. “The Kyle chamber supports local businesses and economic growth,” she said. “Kyle is gaining momentum by having a forward-thinking mentality … We encourage and support council to continue your efforts and maintain forward progress.”

Steve Swindell, owner of Ilario’s Restaurant, said the project is exactly what Kyle is lacking. “This is the kind of development that would offer the ability for people to live and work here,” he said. “It’s a heck of an opportunity.”

District 4 Council member Alex Villalobos said the concept illustrates Kyle’s PIE perspective, referencing public safety, infrastructure and economic development. “It’s been a community effort to get to this point,” he said.

Robert Rizo, who represents District 3, said he thinks the project is a great idea. “I’m pretty excited about a convention center,” he said. “We’ll probably get a lot more revenue from other cities.”

District 2 Council member Tracy Scheel thanked Momark for “taking in what Kyle means and what it looks like and not just trying to put up a brick structure because that’s what you’re used to doing. I appreciate that you really looked at Kyle.”

Should a new police station be a part of the project, Scheel noted that would facilitate quicker police response times. “I look forward to being able to enjoy an area in Kyle where you can sit back, relax, watch a movie maybe, enjoy a band in the park and eat a very good meal.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison (District 1) also said he appreciates that Momark intends to take inspiration from existing architecture. “It’s obvious you put a great deal of thought into our city, what’s important to our city. I look forward to further discussions.

Council member District 6 Daphne Tenorio was also happy about the presentation, but less so about events that led up to it.

She complained that she had been left out of the loop on what was coming. “I’m extremely disappointed in being left out of the conversations,” she said. “I’m at a disadvantage, which puts my constituents at a disadvantage. You’ve got all the information – I’ve got nothing.”

Mayor Travis Mitchell, who began the discussion by noting it was a “complicated proposal” with a “lot of elements” involving “a lot of different groups,” told Tenorio the project was “not something I’ve negotiated,” but rather “something I’m presenting.”

The project is expected to be back on the council agenda, Spears said, sometime in the first quarter of next year.

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