EDC Board, City staff discuss short-term projects

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By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM

At least 12 businesses plan to open locations in Liberty Hill, as reported in last Thursday’s board meeting of the City’s Economic Development Corp.

The new storefronts include a Schlotzsky’s, a salon downtown, an automotive repair shop, another Domino’s, and more.

The details emerged out of a discussion between board members and city staff in an ongoing effort to coordinate efforts to develop Liberty Hill as a commercial center.

At focus this meeting were two sewer line expansion projects the City is pursuing, both as parts of informal deals with landowners who promise in turn to bolster the city’s revenues.

The first would extend sewer lines up Jonathan Drive, a short inlet road off State Highway 29. Individuals owning land at the top of the cul-de-sac there have expressed plans to build two 8,000-square-feet office warehouse spaces, provided they have access to the city’s sewer system.

The extension would also benefit prospective businesses that have expressed an interest in developing retail properties on Jonathan. Currently, the road hosts mostly residential properties on the side closest to Independence Drive, whose sewer lines they are connected to.

Board members expressed an interest in the growth that street could see — though the available space would be limited, City Administrator Greg Boatright noted.

The upfront cost for the extension would come in part from the EDC, Boatright said. He envisioned a contract between the City and the EDC in which, “the EDC would make an investment, say 50 percent, we would look at replenishing that fund as we collected the connection fees.”

The “revolving-door” fund would help the EDC to invest in future development projects.

The properties on Jonathan Drive were annexed into the city’s limits in 2015.

The other sewage line planned by the city would run up Holmes Drive, tying in the Horseshoe Village mobile home complex. The 89 homes in the development are the catalyst for the project, Boatright said, as “[This is] 328 acres in play that would want access to the sewer. And if we extend the sewer up there, they agree to come into the city.

“We’re motivated to make it happen,” he said. “Horseshoe Village is a reality.”

Though funding from the EDC was not discussed, board members agreed the inclusion of the fast-growing development would be of immediate and long term interest to the town’s commercial development. Not only does the project provide workforce housing, as Boatright said, it would also bring an immediate influx of connection fees that the city could put to use in other investments.

“That’s a $220,000 check right there,” said Member Eric Van Natter.

Financial reports showed the EDC to have slightly over $800,000 in claimed cash, of which Boatright said $400,00 would be available on hand “if a project were to come through the door today.”

“We’re in a much different place in our city, revenue wise, than we were even a year ago,” he said.

Senior Planner Sally McFeron reported that 2,241 homes within the city limits are currently plotted for. Additionally, at least 12 businesses have purchased land within the city limits and are currently in plotting or preliminary planning stages.

Among them are Schlotzsky’s (set to open in June), a drywall company’s headquarters, a construction company, an automotive repair business coming from Georgetown, a container home business, another Domino’s, a salon to open downtown next to Parker’s, and a 2,500-square-foot expansion of a retail strip.

All are set to open in mid summer to early Fall.

Additionally, furniture store Slumberland is set to open a new location on Highway 29 shortly outside the city limits.

Boatright also said that at some point in the near future, the city would need to address the sidewalk issues on Myrtle Lane.

These projects and others will be discussed more in-depth at a joint workshop between the EDC and city to be held Thursday, Feb. 23.

Waylon@LHIndependent.com

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