By Karen Daniels
The possible rezoning of the Texas Instruments property was placed on the April 16 City Council agenda by Stafford’s City Attorney, Art Pertile. There have been recent conversations with the “potential buyers” about the future of the redevelopment site, and according to Pertile, rezoning will help determine “how they utilize the property (so it) is in the best interest of the city.” He is concerned that of the 192 acres, if T.I. were to only sell the property for development along the front (US 59) and back (Murphy Rd.) portions, and not the middle, this “would not be beneficial to Stafford.” Mayor Scarcella said, “The middle part of the property, or the so-called ‘campus’ is where the chips are made and where the 6 acres of contaminated water is located.” Texas Instruments has said in the past that they are “committed to its clean-up efforts” and there has been “no indication that the sub-surface ground water contamination poses any health risks or concerns to the T.I. employees or the public.”
Mayor Scarcella met last week with the potential buyers for “five hours of constructive meetings.” There is another meeting scheduled for this week to continue those discussions. The closing date for the sale of the T.I. property is not expected anytime soon, but as you know, there are no property taxes in Stafford, so if the City rezones now they can “dictate limited percentages of types of developments.” Retail will obviously create revenue for the City; however, if the purchaser of the property wants to build a hospital or one large wholesale company, there would be no sales tax revenue generated for the City.
The Mayor indicated that he thinks any potential buyer would want to develop the entire 192 acres and is encouraged that the prospective buyers “have a good vision.” Currently the zoning is for mixed use (MU-2) and any areas of residential must be on the second floor or higher of commercial dwellings, much like City Plaza at Town Square in Sugar Land. Apartment complexes are not allowed with the current zoning. Pertile explained to Council that enhancing the zoning will also ensure that any multi-family construction adheres to “Class-A standards.” Pertile’s final recommendation was that Council ask the Planning and Zoning Commission to review with the SEDC changes to the MU-2 so that the “framework is in place if and when a sale goes through.”
Mayor Scarcella said, “The City is going to aggressively pursue an innovative and transformative development. There should be full recognition that the developer will be strongly pressing for the maximization of profits on the minimization of investment, with substantive enticements from the City. Although it won’t come easy, simple or cheap, this is where the degree of success by the City, and by the developer, will be determined–and hopefully both, as well as the people—will come away believing there has been a beneficial reconciliation, and most importantly, an outstanding development.”