San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 9th, 2009
Developers float plans for rebranding Springtown

DRENNER & GOLDEN

STAFF REPORT

When Target, J.C. Penney and Bealls open their new stores in March at a new retail center down the road, more than 165,000 square feet of the 200,000-square-foot Springtown Shopping Center will be empty. The rest will surely follow.

“If we’re 80 percent vacant, we’re really 100 percent vacant because no one is going to stay in a center that’s basically empty,” said Steve Metcalfe of Drenner & Golden Stuart Wolff, an Austin-based real estate law firm representing the properties’ owners.

The developers want to remake the property as Springtown Entertainment Center anchored by a movie theater with a bowling alley, sports bar and restaurants. The alternative is marketing the facility as a hub of second-tier discount retailers such as dollar stores, Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe did not mention tenant names but renderings he presented to the city council last week show a Third Base sports bar and an Alamo Drafthouse, a dinner-and-drinks cinema that has been looking at San Marcos properties for some time, including the former Gordo’s bar downtown.

To make the transformation happen, the developers say they need an economic development incentive package from the city that would forgive 80 percent of sales tax generated by the facility for 20 years. Even with the subsidy, the facility would still generate more than $16 million over the term in the form of property taxes and fees related to the redevelopment, Metcalfe said.

In addition, Metcalfe said the developers will need conditional use permits to serve alcohol, parking and sign variances to the city’s land development code.

The city council referred to the proposal to the economic development board for a recommendation.

— BRAD ROLLINS

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13 thoughts on “Developers float plans for rebranding Springtown

  1. I think that is a great idea for the area, it will freshen it up,clean it up and bring positive attention. San Marcos would definitely benifit from this construction. Not turning it into second tier discount retailer, we need something uplifting and new in that area.

  2. I would LOVE to see an Alamo Drafthouse in San Marcos! It would be great to see an entertainment center-type development go in at Springtown if for no other reason than it would give us more choices of something to do besides go out for food, beer or coffee.

  3. Of course we all would like an Alamo Drafthouse and something new and uplifting….but should the city spend tens of millions (80% of sales taxes for 20 years) for this? No way.

  4. Wendy, The city wouldn’t spend anything. It would refund the majority of sales tax collected there and collect the full amount of property tax on the improved property. Thats still a significant net increase over what the city’s going to collect on the Worlds Largest Dollar General.

  5. You are way off base Matt and apparently don’t understand that the city runs on sales taxes collected (over 50% of total revenue)while property tax is only like 15%. Cutting this developer a rebate check for 80% of what they produce in sales taxes every year for 20 years ($60 million using their numbers) is SPENDING! Is is worth it for all the low paying jobs? So sick of corporate welfare apologists claiming tax incentives “don’t cost us anything”.

  6. Drafthouse would be ideal, and why not dollar general? Those are two companies that are going to make money, even in hard times, and likely do not need 80% of their (our) taxes refunded. Let’s also give the guy who owns Cornucopia the chance to expand so he can compete with HEB across the street by taking on more staff & selection. That before selling out to conglomo-rent to the tune of $60mil.

  7. On a purely superficial level, making Springtown an entertainment hub would seem to be the most attractive option for that location. The college set is going to spend money on movies and music as well as beer and food no matter how bad the economy gets.

    In regard to an incentive package, any tax breaks the city gives should be evaluated carefully. Is it better to offer no tax breaks and let this prime real estate contribute nothing to the city’s economy? Or is it possible to offer an incentive that will revitalize an area and pay off for the community in the long-run?

    Crunching the numbers on this is above my pay grade, but it should be given close attention.

  8. David, you are right, this is prime real estate across from the Univ. stadium and adjacent to IH35. Just because former owners, (the Carson’s) allowed it to remain empty and dilapidated for a decade, does not mean the new owners will do the same. They hopefully are better business people than that.

  9. So, we offer tax incentives for the folks moving out and tax incentives for the folks moving in?

    I’d be VERY curious to see what the tax revenue from Springtown was for the last 5 years vs what the two developments will now pay over the next 5 years.

    If it is a net loss, we have given money away. There is no way around it.

  10. I don’t get it. Cities bring in Economic Development people who are going to help take the tax burden off of homeowners by bringing in new businesses. Then, all that we see are are tax incentives to attract new businesses that basically put the tax burdens back ONTO the homeowners. Can anyone tell me what the difference is?

  11. God please no more dollar stores in San Marcos. There are plenty. Too many actually! We need more culture in a town with this many year-round college students! Alamo Draft House would be awesome!

  12. San Marcos needs a “economic development” makeover. San Marcos has failed to establish a targeted industry, and seems to be happy taking anything it can get (hotel conference center, tax incentives for the HEB distribution center, etc..). Instead of taking advantage of it’s I-35 strategic location, it feels ‘lucky’ to get whatever is thrown it’s way. How about city leaders that have a VISION?!

    Look what our friends to the north are doing… Kyle, Buda… they have multi-facet economic development plans for their area, and it has little to do with massive free-flowing tax incentives. They have strong commitments in health care and computer technology, and they did this without an outlet mall cash cow.

    Instead of giving tax incentives to businesses that are going to be here anyway (HEB distribution center, etc.), focus on recruiting economic generators that compliment and take advantage of it’s strengths.

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