Honda dealer to join Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports + Outdoors in Weatherford tax zone

A new road for a new business.

That‘s essentially the tradeoff made by the newest business in the city‘s tax increment reinvestment zone.

Honda of Weatherford recently broke ground at 851 W. Interstate 20, a couple hundred yards west of Weatherford High School. It is expected to be open for business by January 2019, owner Charlie O‘Daniel said.

“But I‘m hoping with good weather we can beat that,” he said.

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Reinvestment zones are created by a city council to attract new investment in areas in that probably wouldn‘t otherwise get it anytime soon. The Weatherford zone designates 75 percent of new revenue toward public improvements such as roads and up to 25 percent toward city services like public safety.

In the case of Honda of Weatherford, Kristen Pegues, the city‘s economic development director, said San Antonio-based parent company Gunn Automotive Group, agreed to dedicate right of way to the city, become a Weatherford Electric customer and pay all development-related city inspection fees.

In return, the city agreed to reimburse the developer for public improvements, specifically the construction of a road connecting I-20 with a neighborhood behind the business, O‘Daniel said.

The Weatherford City Council first approved the tax zone in January 2016. Since then, the major retailers Hobby Lobby and Academy Sports + Outdoors have opened in the zone, both east of Waxahachie High School.

“TIRZs allow the city to take a more proactive approach in economic development, and allow the city to use tax financing as a tool to recruit businesses that may otherwise not have considered the city of Weatherford,” said city spokesman Blake Rexroat.

O‘Daniel said he was attracted to Weatherford because of its economic growth and because the nearest Honda dealer is about a 25-minute drive away in Fort Worth.

“It‘s the perfect location for us,” O‘Daniel said. “Every time we come up there we‘re more impressed with the area. I‘m moving my family there.”

The 56,000-square-foot dealership on 12 acres will include 32 service bays and bring 75 new jobs to Weatherford and Parker County, O‘Daniel said.

While the Honda agreement does not have a tax abatement, the ones with Hobby Lobby and Academy do, in effect for eight years. Academy‘s cap is $1.4 million and Hobby Lobby‘s is $400,000.

In return, Academy is obligated for $10.5 million in improvement costs, 85 employees and a minimum payroll of $1.1 million. Hobby Lobby is obligated for $6.5 million in improvement costs, 30 employees and a minimum payroll of $500,000.

Assistant City Manager said reinvestment zones are partially a result of the Great Recession.

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“Construction of retail sites has lessened across the country in recent years because of the economic climate and the stricter banking standards that are keeping new businesses from starting new construction,” Hotopp said. “As a result, cities are now partnering with other taxing entities to create reinvestment zones that not only attract new businesses but help improve roadway and public infrastructure improvements that can accommodate the increased traffic volumes.”

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A Weatherford police officer saw the meteor about 9 p.m. in Weatherford, near the Parker County Courthouse. (Video courtesy of Weatherford Police Department) McClatchy