Kohls commits to Woodbridge Crossing

Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wylie Chamber President Mike Agnew, left, and Wylie EDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite discuss Satterwhite's presentation to the chamber.

Second anchor signed, EDC director tells chamber crowd

By Judy Truesdell
Staff Writer

Kohl’s department store will be the second anchor at Wylie’s Woodbridge Crossing Shopping Center, Wylie EDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite announced last week.

Satterwhite shared the news  at the Wylie Chamber of Commerce luncheon June 22.  Kohl’s will join SuperTarget in the FM 544 center.

In his State of Economic Development speech, Satterwhite said Kohl’s officials had been looking at Wylie and Murphy for about three years and had focused their attention on Wylie for the last nine to 10 months. Satterwhite noted that this is important for the area not just as a new shopping venue and for sales tax revenue, but also as a draw for other retail stores considering a Wylie location.

Kohl’s will be on the east side of Woodbridge Crossing, an area of the center that could’ve been significantly harder to sell without the anchor, Satterwhite said.

Satterwhite said Direct Development will deliver the pad to the site Aug. 8 and Kohl’s will begin construction at that time.

Satterwhite also told those present that, although nothing had been finalized yet, PetSmart and Dollar Tree “look real good” as probable junior anchors for the shopping complex.

After presenting a brief history of the accomplishments and milestones of the WEDC, including 30 relocations and/or expansions since 1996, or 1.7 million square feet, 2,600 new or retained jobs, and $260 million in new investment, Satterwhite said the bad news is that Wylie’s tax rate, 89.89 cents, is one of the highest in the DFW Metroplex. Noting that this makes it challenging to attract new business to the area, he said there is still “good growth” considering the tough economic times.

He said 300 new homes are projected for 2010 in Wylie, as well as 156 in Sachse, 126 in Murphy, and 103 in Lavon. The growth in Lavon would have a positive impact on the city, as it represents money being spent in Wylie by citizens for whom the city provides no services, such as sewer and water, Satterwhite said.

“So we have a high tax rate, and every road in Wylie is under construction,” he said. “You have to ask yourself ‘Why Wylie?’”

The answer, he said, is found in the community’s demographics, including a 177-percent population growth rate from 2000 – 2010. “A hundred seventy-seven percent increase gets anybody’s attention,” he said.

In that same period, 8,611 homes were built, and there’s a retail trade area population of 92,000. The median age is 34, and the average household income is $85,700, which, Satterwhite noted, is a great retailer-attracting average. “Retailers look for $80,000 up,” he said.

The average new home price is $218,000, and quite a few cars drive the major thoroughfares in Wylie: 29,000 per day at FM 544 and Hwy. 78, and 49,000 CPD at McCreary and FM 544.

Satterwhite also noted redevelopment efforts in town, saying he’s pleased with the number of buildings, 142,000 square feet worth, that have been demolished to make room for new retail opportunities.

“On Cooper, we have purchased five properties, two were vacant, two had dilapidated structures which were demolished, and one building remains standing,” Satterwhite said later.

Looking ahead, Satterwhite said the Kansas City Southern Railway Company transportation center, a 200-acre facility adjacent to Hwy. 78, will have a tremendous impact on the local economy, if and when it built.  With 2.5 million square feet, $2 million worth of inventory, equipment and machinery, and 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs, the project is expected to have an impact of 14.5 cents on the tax rolls. He said there will be more trucks in the area, which will require some adjustment for the community, but he said the facility will have a “huge impact” on area economy.

He said later that KCS has been evaluating the project for several years; significant infrastructure will be needed, which will represent a “significant budgetary commitment” from the rail company. “When they do, Wylie will have (not own) a piece of property that will be extremely marketable to large-scale distribution facilities.”

“Where do we go from here?” Satterwhite asked.

The finish-out of Woodbridge Crossing, expected to take the next four to six years, is first on the list, he said, “When finished out, Woodbridge will generate $1.5 million in combined sales tax after incentives.”

He also said the EDC will continue to be proactive and resist the temptation to “fall back” on KCS; he said they’ll continue redevelopment efforts. “We’ve done well, but we have a long way to go,” he said.

Chamber President Mike Agnew asked how much impact the EDC has on bringing specific restaurants and retail outlets to the area. Satterwhite said most entities know of the community, but, once they decide to come here, the EDC makes a difference in the way they’re treated. He gave PetSmart as a example of a company that was surprised at the hands-on assistance they received from the EDC and the city of Wylie regarding their permits. “The extra attention can make a difference,” he said.

Answering a question about “sit-down restaurants” from Jenna Lawson of the Wylie Education Foundation, Satterwhite said Applebee’s has a contract on a piece of property in town and may close in August. “It’s by no means a ‘done deal,’” he said. “They’ve been looking at Wylie for four years.”

In closing, Satterwhite recognized the great “team effort” between the EDC and the mayor, building inspectors and other city officials. “If one person falters, it hurts the process,” he said.    

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