News Article | 11/20/2004

Economic Agreements Encouraged In Flower Mound

Do not fear “380” development agreements. That’s the message Flower Mound officials have for landowners and developers who might be considering such partnerships with the town to spur growth of commercial properties.Officials say two 380 economic development agreements that were successfully completed last week in the Lakeside Business District are proof that they work.”It sends a message out to the development community that we are open for business,” council member Paul Stone said. “Now I just hope that the other 380 agreements pay off as soon as this one.”The town currently has between 25 and 30 agreements, some under different terms, officials say.Named after the Texas Local Government Code chapter that authorizes the deals, the 380 agreements allow public money to be used to attract desired development through loans, grants, tax rebates and other economic incentives. Municipalities recoup their investment through the added tax value such developments generate.Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development Company and D-F Fund 18, a California-based investor group, were released Monday from their contractual obligations under the agreements they signed for 181 acres in the 1,500-acre business district in southern Flower Mound.D-F Fund owned the original 181-acre tract in the business district, and Hillwood later bought 81 acres of it to develop its Lakeside Trade Center Building. The building, which serves as a distribution center for Best Buy and Maytag, is valued at $14.1 million, which exceeds the $12.8 million target value needed to meet the obligations attached to the land. As a result, both companies owe the town nothing, and the town benefits from the added tax revenue, officials said.”This one building meets the requirement for the entire tract,” Jim Lang, the town’s economic development director, told council members. “It’s a pretty remarkable achievement. It shows what can be done down there.”D-F Fund was among about 15 original landowners that signed identical agreements with the town in 2000, Mr. Lang said. The town agreed to spend more than $25 million in infrastructure improvements, including constructing Lakeside Parkway as well as streetlights and water and sewer lines in the business district to prep it for development, he said.Landowners were given seven years to develop their property – beginning late last year – to generate enough tax revenue to cover their share of the town’s annual debt payments on the 1997 bond issue passed by voters that paid for the infrastructure. If landowners fail to develop the land within that time frame, they must begin paying the town their annual share of that debt.Albert Jarrell, development director for Hillwood Investment Properties, said Flower Mound is serious about economic development. “The town had the vision to put this 380 in place and build the infrastructure to encourage economic development. In this case, it worked perfectly,” he said.Hillwood plans to construct more buildings on its land. Yet further development would be “over and beyond the town’s infrastructure costs,” Town Manager Van James said.The town’s other 380 agreements give developers tax rebates and fee waivers, Mr. Lang said.For example, Hillwood has a separate 380 agreement with the town under which the company has to generate $41 million in new assessed tax value from the land by 2006 or repay the town for the 70 percent property tax reduction and a waiver of development and permit fees it received, he said.Flower Mound is considering 380 agreements in other business districts. Commercial development slowed somewhat over the last several years due to the town’s SmartGrowth philosophy, which stresses the need for more open space and controlled growth.As a result, Flower Mound residents bear most of the town’s tax burden – a statistic town leaders are hoping to change. “This shows developers that these 380 agreements are nothing to be afraid of,” Mr. Lang said.