Apartments, or as project developers refer to them, multifamily developments, are now part of the proposed concept plans of Cleburne Station.
Cleburne council members voiced conditional approval of the addition but indicated that they, and city residents, have grown frustrated over lack of progress on the project.
New Era Vice President of Project Development South Cole delivered an update on the project during the workshop portion of Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting.
Cleburne voters in 2015 approved a $25 million bond issuance to fund both the Cleburne Station project and The Depot both of which occupy land adjacent to U.S. 67 near the Chisholm Trail Parkway’s entrance into Cleburne. The Depot, a multi-use stadium, serves as home to the Cleburne Railroaders baseball team and the host site of concerts and other events.
The plan for Cleburne Station, which surrounds the ballpark, remains to bring a mix of retail and restaurants to the area.
Proponents, in promoting the 2015 bond election, argued that Cleburne Station would bring much desired retail and dining options to Cleburne, spur additional economic development, attract tourism and stem leakage of sales tax revenues to Burleson and Fort Worth. Construction of The Depot concluded in 2016 and the Railroaders just wrapped their third season. Cleburne Station, save the recent installation of a sign, appears little changed from its previous incarnation as a turnip field.
The city owns The Depot and the land it occupies. The remaining land, the Cleburne Station area, was sold to New Era Partners, the group in charge of construction of the project and recruitment of new business.
Although it’s not yet obvious to the casual observer, much is ongoing and the wheels are in motion to bring Cleburne Station to fruition, Cole said.
“Even though all you see is a sign out there right now things are beginning to materialize both on paper and through negotiations behind the scenes,” Cole said.
Meetings with companies interested in the area remain ongoing, Cole said. He added that, because those talks remain in the negotiation stage, he is not at liberty to divulge the names of the companies.
Cole said that much of the behind-the-scenes work is substantially or nearly complete. Site layout, utilities and paving design for the northwest corner, the area targeted for initial development, is about 50 percent complete, he said. Conceptual architectural drawings and costs estimates for Building No. 1 are 90 percent completed, he added. Hopes of attracting a hotel and movie theater remain in the works, Cole said, though the proposed hotel site has been repositioned.
Officials from Champions DFW Commercial Realty, a Southlake company, assisted Cole with his presentation.
The idea behind the multi-family mixed use buildings, which will have retail on the ground floors, came about in effort to create density, Champion Principal Broker Jim Kelley said. That occurred, he said, because several national retailers were looking at a 10-year timeline, a span Cleburne Station doesn’t have the luxury of entertaining and something Cleburne residents likely don’t have the patience for.
“Finding a product that works here, that’s the key,” Kelley said. “So we’re trying to get them to get the picture of Cleburne and see the vision. It takes an average of 1 to 3 years to recruit the national brands. But density drives the big box retailers and that in turn drives the junior box retailers.”
Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said he’s fine with the apartment concept, provided the apartments are of higher end pedigree, something developers assured will be the case.
Cleburne City Manager Steve Polasek reminded developers that the community is ready to see something go vertical.
Cole said city officials and residents should reasonably expect to see construction gearing up within a year.