Sugar Land recently began construction of a 2.88-acre public plaza next to the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, a live entertainment venue located near University Boulevard and U.S. Highway 59.
Substantial completion of the plaza and the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is expected by this fall, with a formal grand opening event planned by ACE SL, LLC (ACE) in January.
Located on city-owned property within Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #4, the plaza will serve as a focal point for a mixed-use development expected to include office, retail, entertainment, a future hotel/conference center and major corporate employers such as Fluor Corporation and Texas Instruments.
The plaza will feature an interactive water fountain, a tree-covered grove, a large lawn area for residents and visitors and a dedicated area for food truck connections. The project is expected to spur additional commercial and retail growth that will further establish Sugar Land as one of the strongest economies in the region, all while building and enhancing the value of the overall development within TIRZ #4.
A TIRZ is a special district that encourages a higher quality of development than would otherwise be possible; a portion of the increase in tax revenues generated within the TIRZ helps fund public infrastructure improvements within the district.
“Just as the plaza in front of Sugar Land City Hall is a major focal point for all of Town Square,” said City Manager Allen Bogard, “we believe this plaza will become its own unique destination and gathering place for families, visitors and employers.”
In accordance with a long-held vision of Sugar Land residents – including the support of a 2007 citizen-led Visioning Task Force – and the city council, the city’s development of the property will promote capital investment; create new jobs; enhance educational opportunities; increase tourism and provide unique destination activities; and anchor an exciting mixed-used development envisioned to include retail, office, commercial and entertainment amenities – an environment that will be attractive to major corporations, residents and visitors.
Construction continues on the adjacent Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. A major milestone included the recent installation of glass panels on the front of the building.
The Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is expected to set a new standard in the touring industry and change the entertainment landscape in the “Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land” metro region. It will be capable of hosting a wide range of performances, including national music and comedy artists, theatrical and family entertainment, as well as cultural and performing arts attractions.
Designed for flexibility, the 200,000-square-foot venue incorporates innovative moveable walls that can expand and contract to create four different seating capacities that range from an intimate setting of 3,400 seats to a maximum of 6,400. It also features 14 luxury suites, corporate hospitality areas, and the latest sound, lighting and video technology. Other offerings include space to house up to 18 trucks and buses, as well as 2,500 guest parking spaces.
Sugar Land is partnering with ACE to design and construct the state-of-the-art facility. The company brings an experienced team of locally-based entertainment industry professionals to the project led by Allen J. Becker, Tony Award-winning founding chairman of PACE Entertainment Corporation, and an executive team with more than 175 years of experience and success in local, national and international entertainment ventures, including pioneering the development of new music and theatrical venues, as well as the entertainment to fill them.
Based on voters’ approval of financing tools in 2008, funding is provided through a unique package of special funding sources restricted for economic development and tourism purposes, with no general fund tax dollars being spent on the plaza or the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, which on its own is projected to provide an annual benefit to the community of $26.1 million over 30 years.
Additionally, ACE made a $10 million equity contribution to the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land project and will also pay substantial rent revenues generated by the facility.