Uptown plans: Kyle unveils innovative multi-use project
The news from Kyle is “upbeat” following the announcement of Uptown Kyle, a mixed-use development planned at Plum Creek - Phase II. Plans for the development were revealed by Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell during a State of the City address Tuesday.
The 137-acre parcel of land targeted for the development sits behind the performing arts center.
“In a few months the city council will receive a proposal to finally kick start Uptown,” Mitchell said.
The project will be funded by creating a Tax Increment Financing zone – (TIF), a public financing method designed to reinvest revenue generated from within the district on public improvements.
“This TIF district won’t be subsidized by the General Fund,” Mitchell added. “That means it can only leverage the money generated from within its boundaries. Also, the monies can only be used to benefit the entire city.”
Plans for the development include sit-down restaurants, boutique retail, destination retail and office space and could also include public amenities like parking garages and parks.
“This district will only generate revenue from the growth above what’s currently in place at the time of passage,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell emphasized the city was not abandoning their commitment to downtown.
“Uptown is a project that will develop, not as a replacement, but as an addition to our downtown community,” he stressed.
More than 200 business men and women were on hand to hear the mayor touch on five key points city officials have dealt with recently and over the years. Issues like: growth, water, wastewater, mobility and community.
“We’re transitioning from a bedroom community to a thriving city,” Mitchell said. “Managing growth isn’t a bad phrase. It clearly represents our most fundamental mandate as a city. But the real question is how? How do we manage growth? The factors influencing Kyle are numerous, complex and intertwined.”
Mitchell said council filters its decisions through the lens of maximizing the value in each investment — often on a shoe-string budget — to avoid tax increases.
According to Mitchell, Kyle’s population is 47,000 and will likely reach 50,000 residents by the end of 2019. He said that didn’t include the nearly 20,000 residents who live outside the city, but are in the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction, some of whom utilize city services.
“We believe conservatively that by 2040, Kyle will have a population that exceeds 100,000 residents,” Mitchell said. “That’s an astounding number considering 20 years ago the city had a population of just 5,000.”
Mitchell said the reason for the tremendous growth is due in large part to affordable housing.
“According to our most recent citywide survey the overwhelming reason people chose to live in Kyle is cost of housing. Common since says that’s correct,” Mitchell said.
He said residents have moved here because of what kind of home their money could buy, but once in Kyle their perspective transitions into caring more about how growth affects their quality of life.
The downside of growing pains Mitchell said is the stress it places on roads, utilities, the tax rate, the city’s debt — even its identity.
The solution he said has been in the creation of partnerships.
“We have begun looking to developers to help solve the problems they create,” he said, “by creating a Residential Style Guide, implementing special taxing districts, and working with regional partners.”
Water has also been an issue for the city and more importantly, where to get it.
“The city learned important lesson in 2002 after a development moratorium spurred by short-term water planning, not a long-term vision for the city’s water needs,” Mitchell said. “By teaming up with San Marcos and the Canyon Regional Water Authority to form the Hays County Public Utility Authority (now called the Alliance Regional Water Authority, which also includes the city of Buda), the future of water in Kyle is more stable.”
“Mitchell said the city is just a few years away from providing Kyle with enough water to handle growth for an entire generation.
The Mayor added that a wastewater treatment plant expansion is already underway, with not a small price tag. Since water and wastewater infrastructure always precedes new development the cost burden for the expansion has the potential to fall on current users until the new developments come online.
“We negotiated several large up-front developer contributions to help take the sting out of the cost of the plant,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also touched on issues regarding transportation,
“Lehman, Burleson, 150, Stagecoach, Old Post Road, Windy Hill and others were built when Kyle had less than 5,000 people,” he said. “We haven’t had enough funds to make major improvements without borrowing money and raising taxes, which we did in 2013 with voter approval.”
He added that four of the six roads in the bond are now complete and the remaining two, Lehman and Burleson, are less than about two months away from beginning construction.
Mitchell told the Chamber audience about the city’s sidewalk repair program, the rail siding project (where the double tracks at Center Street will be moved north) and several large economic development wins for Kyle in recent months.
He also mentioned the opening of Phase I of the city’s first municipal dog park, having one of the largest July 4th fireworks displays in the city’s history and work on a new 10-mile trail that will connect Kyle from east to west.
Mitchell spoke about the new Butterfly Garden at Kyle Library, the city’s CertiPIEd branding initiative and the upcoming Pie in the Sky Hot Air Balloon festival.
“My vision is for Kyle to once and for all shed the stigma that we are simply a bedroom community lost in a sea of endless sprawl,” he said. “If we stay the course, we can become a safe and thriving city with great parks, smooth roads, affordable housing, career employment and opportunity for all.”