Monday, October 1, 2012
Plano residents ask for details about Nebraska Furniture project
The 1.86-million square foot complex recently broke ground.
PLANO Last year, when Nebraska Furniture Mart announced its intentions to build the largest home furnishings store in North America on a 433-acre property in The Colony, some Plano residents got nervous.
The 1.86 million-square-foot store will cover about 40 football fields’ worth of land north and west of the Kings Ridge subdivision, the westernmost housing division in Plano.
While the project officially broke ground on Tuesday, uncertainly surrounding the development still exists. However, Kings Ridge resident Bill Kula said most homeowners he has spoken with are looking forward to seeing what the development brings to the area.
“We are very supportive of economic development and of job growth, and look forward to that transpiring through the new development,” Kula said. “At the same time, we want to preserve and protect the financial investment that we have made in our homes.”
The furniture store will be located on the western end of the property, away from the homes. However, the store is only one part of the mixed-used development. While it is expected that other retailers, as well as restaurants, will occupy a portion of the property’s remaining acres, no announcements to that effect have been made at this point.
“We have asked the city of The Colony, as well as Nebraska Furniture Mart, to do what they can to apply a variety of buffering for sound, for light and for visual aesthetics [to the property],” Kula said. “Even though we are Plano residents, and the development is in The Colony, we are hopeful the city will be a good neighbor and that Nebraska Furniture Mart will be a good corporate citizen.”
Kula said himself, and residents from Kings Gate and Shoal Creek – two other nearby HOAs – have been in contact with Nebraska Furniture and that the company has provided some information.
Troy Powell, The Colony city manager, said he understands the Plano residents desire for more information. He said the city and developer are not withholding information; there is simply not a lot of information to share at the current time.
“The important thing to remember at this time is that we don’t have a site plan, so there is not a lot of information to share with Plano residents,” Powell said. “We have asked Nebraska Furniture … to set up meetings with Kings Ridge and other neighborhoods and they have agreed to do that.”
There is no timeline for a site plan to be released, but Powell said he hopes to have one in hand in the next few months. He also said there is no timeline for the project’s development, other than the main building must be finished by May 2015.
With a project of this magnitude, the entire region will be affected, Powell said, adding that he believes the developers want to be good neighbors with Plano.
“I am very optimistic that the project is going to be world class,” he said. “… The economics of the deal are that [Nebraska Furniture] is investing so much money that there are only certain high-level tenants that can afford to be a part of the project, and those tenants are going to care about what their neighbors think.”
A Plano resident has also been appointed to the board of the property’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which will help ensure the concerns and thoughts of Plano residents are heard, Powell said.
Plano homeowners are not the city’s only residents who are interested in the project’s outcome. Plano Deputy City Manger Frank Turner said the two cities have been in contact regarding improvements to Headquarters Drive, and have also discussed how to provide water to a portion of the development.
“The portion of the site from the railroad tracks to the east (nearest the Plano homes) will receive water from the city of Plano that has been sold to The Colony,” Turner said. “We are uphill from that portion, so it is pretty simple for us to get water to that portion of the site.”
Turner said it is customary for cities to keep their neighbors informed of any development occurring on their border, and that The Colony has done its part to keep Plano city staff up to date.
Assuming the project goes as planned, Kula said it will be a great thing for the region. However, he emphasized he hopes Nebraska Furniture keeps him and his neighbors in mind as they develop the property.
“We hope that [The Colony’s] long-term gain does not produce short-term negativity for the region,” he said. “There is still plenty of opportunity and sufficient time for The Colony and Nebraska Furniture Mart and nearby neighbors to have a cooperative discussion that leads to a win-win benefit for all.”
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