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

July 17th, 2009
EDSM forwards new Springtown proposal

Economic Development San Marcos has made a proposal to the city council concerning redevelopment of the now-desolate Springtown Center. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

Economic Development San Marcos (EDSM), the city’s economic development board, is forwarding a new proposal to the city council regarding incentives for the redevelopment of Springtown Center.

The new proposal calls for the city to lend the Springtown developers, Lamy-Springfield Mall, Ltd., $3.9 million over a six-year term. The developers would make no payments while interest accrues in the first two years. During the next four years, the developer makes quarterly payments on the interest only.

From 2011 through 2016, the center would receive back 50 percent of the sales taxes it generates beyond its present levels, which are next to nothing, given the lack of tenants. That money would defray the cost of the developer’s interest payments.

EDSM did not indicate approval or denial of the terms to the San Marcos City Council, which will take up the matter next Tuesday night. EDSM met for more than two hours in executive session Thursday before announcing the proposal in open session.

Last Tuesday, after meeting in executive session for 90 minutes, the council unanimously turned back economic development incentives for Springtown Center. EDSM had made a recommendation about a $5 million interest-free loan to be paid within 23 years. EDSM did not indicate if it recommended approval or denial. But the council also turned back other proposals that emerged between the EDSM June 30 meeting and the council’s July 7 meeting.

After Thursday’s meeting, EDSM Director Amy Madison said staff was directed to draft a letter to council with the boards’ recommendation.

The board’s open session provided the specifics of the new proposal which were read aloud by EDSM Chairman Don Nash. The board concluded the open session part of the meeting in a brisk ten minutes and declined to call the final item on the agenda, entitled, “Question and answer session with press and public.”

During the citizens comment period, Sylvan Learning Center Director Theresa Knight spoke on behalf of the redevelopment, citing “selfish reasons” and an “overall good for the community.” Sylvan Learning Center is located at Springtown Center.

“I do really support the redevelopment of the Springtown Center,” Knight said.

A presentation from the developers on the redevelopment of the Springtown Center is scheduled for next Tuesday’s city council meeting. The agenda calls for council to take into “discussion, consideration and possible approval” the incentives for the redevelopment. along with authorization for staff to finalize contract negotiations.

The developers appeared relieved to hear the development board’s new proposal and personally thanked Mayor Susan Narvaiz quietly “for all (her) hard work,” after Thursday’s meeting.

Replied Narvaiz, “You’re welcome.”

After Thursday’s meeting, Narvaiz and the two developers present walked out of City Hall engaged in conversation.

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0 thoughts on “EDSM forwards new Springtown proposal

  1. Mayor Narvaiz has heard enough out of you Martians. Why in the world would a question and answer period be tolerated at this point? Particularly after this new deal has been re-crafted so well. LOL.

    I hope the City Council gets it, even if the Mayor doesn’t. There just isn’t any support for these “redevelopment” or “relocation” incentive projects. Times are getting tough here in Hays County, and there is just so much you can put on the shoulders of your citizens. Bottom line – we get to vote. Outside developers don’t. And I’m not sure their campaign contributions is going to help any either.

  2. It sounds to me that the City will have a second lien
    on the development after 6 years when it is likely not repaid. Let us compare this project to the approximately 5 Million the Mayor and council “invested” in the Yarrington Road bridge over Post Road to the failed Blanco Vista subdivision that will never be repaid.

  3. I know they have the right to use executive session for economic development discussions, but there comes a point when a controversy reaches a level that it is in the best interest of all parties to go beyond mandated levels of transparency and bring discussions into the forum.

    This looks like a risk-free transaction… for the developers. I cannot identify what the investment risk is for Lamy. When do they pay back the principle on the loan? 20 years later when the development is functionally obsolete AGAIN and the stucco-covered foam is deteriorating AGAIN, forcing a ‘need’ for more incentives? What is the interest rate and is it fixed or adjustable?

    Whatever. Go on San Marcos. Go on and incentivize a project that will continue to contribute to an unbalanced tax base that relies far too heavily on unstable sales tax revenue. Go on and incentivize low-paying, low-benefit, and low-skill secondary jobs. Go ahead and let well-educated Texas State graduates that wish to stay in San Marcos leave because they can’t find a decent job in town. Keep ignoring the economic potential created by having a major university in your city capable of creating specialized programs to compliment targetted industries. Keep denying low-income citizens the programs necessary to develop better job skills so San Marcos can attract better paying, high-skill primary jobs. Go on, keep continuing to ignore the businesses that are already here. Keep ignoring your downtown. See where that gets you.

  4. The description of the loan terms, as reported, are nebulous. The Mayor and Council could do a lot more to be inclusive, esp. given the public response to this issue.

  5. So, we’ll rebate the sales tax here, in addition to the sales tax that we rebate to Target, for relocating, and we’ll loan them the money.

    All this because the center will generate tax revenue?

    No thanks. It doesn’t add up and it doesn’t bring real jobs to San Marcos.

    Right up the street, they are fighting over a deal in Buda, which will bring 250 jobs to town, at an average salary that is about twice the average HOUSEHOLD income in San Marcos. Those are the deals we should be seeking out and those are the deals that should get our hard earned tax dollars.

  6. Maybe we are being ignored in these types of disturbing and questionable developments because of
    “Political Contributions”.
    I believe that would be an interesting disclosure.

    Maybe Buda could council the Council on how to bring
    real economic benefits to the area instead of benefits to developers.

  7. “The board concluded the open session part of the meeting in a brisk ten minutes and declined to call the final item on the agenda, entitled, ‘Question and answer session with press and public.'”

    Hey government hack? Is that even legal- ignoring a posted agenda item?
    hhhmmmmm.

  8. So, let me get this right. It’s only about 4 million instead of 5, and there’s interest. But the city refunds half their sales taxes for five years to pay their interest.

    Instead of a zero-interest loan, the city gives them money to pay the interest….on the loan the city gave them.

  9. Actually, I am FOR the project and revitalizing
    the center. However, entrepreneurs and developers should bear their own risk and responsibility and not rely on the Cities to be the Venture capital providors.

  10. Griffin,unfortunately, I think you have it right. I’d hate to think that the EDSM board believes we aren’t smart enough to see through the absurdity of this smoke and mirror deal. So not only are we setting an unfortunate future expectation but we haven’t really changed the plan much if I’m not mistaken. Unless I am missing some details, this deal is almost insulting to those who spoke up against the last proposal presented to the Council.

  11. Everybody just shut up! The mayor knows what is best for the city, afterall she always seeks guidance from a higher power. She has the strongest and most responsible outlook for the city, so much so, that she will go against the community’s wishes because she has the answer, because she knows what’s best – we dont, and we need to quit bugging her during the citizen comment period of council meetings because that only angers her. And we cannot anger or question our leader.

  12. “The developers…personally thanked Mayor Susan Narvaiz quietly “for all (her) hard work,” after Thursday’s meeting… Narvaiz and the two developers present walked out of City Hall engaged in conversation.” I guess she really worked hard for them. hmm.

    Its time San Marcos pays full time salaries to its Mayor and Council. That way, we might get some decent, qualified candidates to run next election, and they won’t be distracted by day jobs. The current salary for our County Commissioners is about $65,000. Too much for this council. A typical retail employee makes around $19,000. Since our current Mayor and Council seem to think that retail jobs are sufficient for San Marcos residents, perhaps this is what they should get paid, of course, we’d need to make sure that they put in their 40 hours/week.

  13. I dunno, they might take it as a sign they’re doing a good job. We wouldn’t want to give them that impression.

  14. I’m sure city council is a difficult job, and I appreciate all the time our council and mayor put into their elected positions, but the Springtown incentive is a poor idea. That the council thinks its a good idea suggests that they either aren’t spending enough time researching it, or that they have a vested interest in helping the developer. We elect our city leaders. We don’t pay them. We get what we pay for.

  15. hold on Elena- i’ll be right over to help you find your sense of humor.

    i love that Andy and Bill and Newstreamz has the balls to report what EVERYBODY knows but is too afraid to say about She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
    i especially loved this:

    Replied Narvaiz, “You’re welcome.”
    After Thursday’s meeting, Narvaiz and the two developers present walked out of City Hall engaged in conversation.

    i mean, you can almost picture them kissing…
    great stuff.

  16. Ah heck Chris.. I think it great as well! Totally joking with my comment. I know Andy and he’s an awesome guy. I love it the most that Newstreamz is not holding anything back… Good Job Andy and Chris we need to meet soon!

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