CONVENTION CENTER

I unequivocally support – a – city-owned or -incentized convention, conference or event center. However, I believe the current project needs to be examined carefully to insure maximum benefit with minimal risk to the city. I support voter approval.

Principals of the project currently under discussion are the University of North Texas (UNT), developer O’Reilly Hospitality Management, and the City of Denton. The project is now in the feasibility study phase, in which the economic viability of the project is analyzed. The convention center (only, not the hotel), as proposed, would be funded by taxpayer-guaranteed bonds in an amount not to exceed $25 million.

As currently structured, all city revenue – property tax, sales tax and hotel/motel (HOT) tax – generated by the total project (including the hotel) will be required to pay the bond debt service for the convention center. The revenue will not be sufficient to pay the debt service, so the developer has agreed to make up the difference if, and only if, the debt issued by the city does not exceed $25 million. If the cost of the convention center exceeds $25 million, then everyone goes back to the drawing board.

All revenues from convention center bookings will go to the developer.

Additionally, the developer is requiring creation of a TIF (Tax Incremental Financing district) and participation by Denton County and Denton Independent School District (DISD) to provide an additional subsidy to the developer of approx. $400,000/year. The County and DISD have neither determined nor approved participation. If they do not participate, who will make up the $400,000?

The city has recently agreed to pay the first two years of debt service once the facility is open. This amount will be $1.8 million to $2.2 million per year. HOT funds are proposed to be the funding source for this debt service, but there will not be sufficient reserves from HOT funds to cover the debt.

Additionally, the city must escrow funds to create a capital reserve/remodel fund for future repairs and enhancements, scope and timing of which is determined by the hotel corporation. Said escrow fund will be capitalized with HOT fund revenue.

For the project to provide any contribution to the general fund revenue, convention attendees and hotel guests will have to leave the premises and spend money off-site.
Additionally, there is no plan for commercial development on land owned by the University of North Texas. Any commercial development within walking distance would require encroachment into the Denia neighborhood.

DATCU: THE FACTS

April 24, 2014
Factual information can communicate many different things, depending on the depth of facts one chooses to explore. Let’s dig a little deeper into a “fact” as stated by the Chair of Planning & Zoning.

It has been stated that 33.2% of “the neighborhood” opposed the proposed new DATCU corporate headquarters on Teasley Lane.

When an application is filed to rezone a property, the city is required by state law to send out a Notice of Public Hearing to property owners within 200 ft. of the subject property. Each property owner may reply to the notice indicating support, opposition, or neutrality.

If 20% of the LAND area within 200 feet opposes the rezoning request, then approval by a super-majority (6 votes out of 7, not just a majority) of Council is required for passage. Let us be clear; this is not 20% of individual property owners, but is owners of 20% of the LAND area within the 200-ft. notice area.

The backup information provided to Planning & Zoning contained 8 notices of opposition and 3 notices of support for the re-zoning request. Based upon the notices, 32% of the land area opposed the rezoning, as indicated by the 8 notices of opposition.

Would it be a material fact if you knew that just one property owner was responsible for more than half of the opposed land area? Well, that is the case. Without that opposition, the super-majority requirement would not have been required. Seems this critical fact has been lost in the discussion.

FACT #1
DATCU was planning to purchase the entire 10-acre tract, but utilize only 2 acres for its new corporate headquarters/parking. DATCU would provide a 150 to 200 ft. buffer to the adjacent property owners; this is 4 to 5 times the depth of buffer required by city code.
Protection and enhancement of neighborhood.

FACT #2
DATCU was not proposing to build an 83,000 sq. ft. building initially. The building was to be two stories, only about 50,000 sq. ft., with the ability to expand to 83,000 sq. ft., if needed someday; DATCU was viewing this site as its “forever” home of up to 100 years. There was no guarantee the building would ever be expanded. DATCU would utilize no more than 2 acres, or 20% of the tract, leaving the remaining 80% as a buffer area and treed greenspace.
Enhancement and neighborhood preservation.

FACT #3
DATCU was willing to pay for a right-turn deceleration lane from Teasley into the site (traffic mitigation infrastructure). To improve mobility for the neighborhood, DATCU also was willing to install – at its expense – a right-turn lane from Pennsylvania to Teasley and would work with the church that owns the land needed for this lane.
Protection and enhancement of the neighborhood

In a separate vote, Planning & Zoning denied DATCU’s request to install the right-turn deceleration lane – at its own expense – on Teasley Lane, even though the lane was not prohibited by city code.

FACT #4 
DATCU would have employed about 80 people at the corporate headquarters at opening.
Economic Development

FACT #5
The project would have raised additional revenue for the city in excess of $100,000 annually and for Denton Independent School District in excess of $200,000 annually.
Economic Development

FACT #6
DATCU would have reduced current traffic to the site (now a church) and surrounding neighborhood, because no DATCU operations are conducted after 5 p.m. on weekdays or on Saturday or Sunday.
Protection and enhancement of the neighborhood

FACT #7 
Neighborhood Residential Mixed Use (NRMU) is the zoning classification DATCU sought in its application for rezoning. Just a few months before the DATCU hearing, Planning & Zoning recommended approval to City Council of an amendment to the NRMU zoning classification. The amendment applied to all land in the city zoned NRMU, not just the Teasley site sought by DATCU. The amendment allowed a permitted use of office and professional buildings more than 25,000 sq. ft. on land within the NRMU classification with the addition of a special use permit (SUP).

FACT #8
DATCU did not request any tax incentives from the city.
Economic Development

SUMMARY
Some want to create distractions from the facts by blaming DATCU and circulating misinformation that DATCU never intended to stay in Denton. However, DATCU spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on architectural plans, tree surveys, soil analyses of the Teasley site, etc., as required by the city.

I do not believe the tremendous growth DATCU is experiencing today is a result of irrational business decisions, such as comprehensive development of plans specific to the Teasley site with no intent to build a new corporate headquarters at that location.

We had an 80-year-old native Denton company ranked the No. 7 credit union in the nation seeking to:

• Build a new corporate headquarters on 10 acres while only using 2 acres

• Provide 80+ jobs

• Provide additional tax revenue to the city of $100,000 annually

• Provide additional revenue to the Denton Independent School District of $200,000 annually

• Build the project without requesting any tax incentives

The project would have:

• Improved traffic mobility

• Reduced traffic to the site; no operations after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and no operations on Saturday or Sunday

The head of P&Z, one of my opponents, said “No.”

Great leaders learn from mistakes. But, instead of trying to learn how to avoid this type of situation again, some are now kicking a long-standing Denton company in the back side as it’s walking out the door.

No wonder Denton has such a powerful anti-business reputation.

Let’s Make the Denton Economic Development Partnership Board Inclusive

March 24, 2014

To provide for maximum impact and community inclusion as new economic development initiatives are pursued, as Mayor, I will propose that the membership of the Denton Economic Development Partnership (EDP) Board be expanded to include a representative from the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce and a representative from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as full voting members. These two key organizations have never had representation on the EDP Board and it’s long past time their voices are included. Input by these stakeholders is essential in a healthy, well-rounded economic development plan.