FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did the developers change the plans without notifying the City?
We’ve been in regular communication with the Mayor’s office and City Staff about our concerns, our research and these preliminary ideas for a path forward. In fact, we made this same presentation in early July to the Mayor and we’ve requested an audience with the City Council multiple times.
What we discussed at the July 26th City Council special meeting was not a set plan. Our intention was to present a potential new path that we think is a better way to achieve our shared vision to create a development that builds Rowlett’s tax base and attracts more commercial, hospitality and office tax revenue to the city.
As a partner with the City, we wanted to use our expertise to propose a potential solution to the City rather than simply identify a problem.
Why do you propose eliminating the 8-acre lagoon and fountains?
Our research shows that the lagoon and fountains would not be a driver for attracting large office and commercial tenants, one of the primary goals of our shared vision.
Additionally, we’ve all seen the winds on Lake Ray Hubbard lift kiteboarders 40 feet in the air and test the tacking and jibing skills of local sailors. Wind studies show that the waterjet show fountains would be overwhelmed and shut down on most days. And on days when they’re running, customers at nearby cafes and shops will likely be drenched by the fountains’ spray.
We’ve also learned that there are as many as 50 similar lagoons currently in the works throughout the state of Texas. We no longer think that the lagoon, as proposed, will be the unique draw for the long term that Rowlett hoped it would be.
We were excited to swim in the lagoon. What are you proposing instead as similar civic amenity?
The lagoon was never planned to be open to the general public for swimming. Only smaller portions on either end would have allowed swimming as an amenity exclusively for hotel guests and owners living in the condominium tower.
In our new proposal, we’ve incorporated an 8-acre kayak basin, where the marina currently floats, that allows visitors to rent kayaks and paddle boards to enjoy the lake, while their friends and family watch from nearby cafes and engaging public spaces. We’ve also added a splash park designed with natural stone waterfalls and shallow pools for families with children of all ages to enjoy.
Are there more apartments?
No, there is no increase in apartments. The City’s zoning places a 20% cap on residential uses and we have always been comfortable with that.
In fact, within the new plan, rental apartments have decreased in favor of owner-occupied, resort community-style townhomes. Further, the apartments have been broken up and spread out into lower structures throughout the mixed-use core rather than larger, taller, more prominent blocks as originally proposed.
Did you propose eliminating the trolley?
No, we still regard the trolley as a transportation amenity.
Why did you reduce the amount of retail space?
It’s no secret that the retail environment has changed dramatically over the past five years. Retailers nationwide are closing or reducing the size of their locations as more consumers are choosing to shop online. We are proposing that more space will be dedicated to restaurants and entertainment than traditional retail.
We intend to build the maximum amount of retail that the market will absorb. Our team has extensive, national retail experience on large scale and believes we can create an extremely vibrant retail experience. It is a critical part of our design. It is in our best interest to maximize the retail space, but only to the extent it is market-driven.
What’s in this new plan for the citizens of Rowlett?
In the recently released Imagine Rowlett survey conducted by the City of its citizens, the top four trends that emerged were more green space (parks, trails, bike paths and walkability), increased dining and shopping options, entertainment and cultural amenities, and better interactivity with the lake.
In the new plan, we’ve more than doubled the open spaces, including trails, parks, water gardens, a splash park and a kayak lagoon, than the prior plan. It also far exceeds the prior plan by providing a more natural setting and visual amenities that visitors can both experience and enjoy.
Additionally, the new plan can accommodate several thousand more visitors for large-scale events like outdoor concerts, festivals and holiday events, while providing options for smaller events like farmer’s markets, craft fairs and school events.
Financially, we see this new plan as more beneficial to the City of Rowlett as well. Our internal estimates for the new plan exceed the economic study that was completed with the City in 2015. Tax value is estimated to be over $1 billion, as compared to $878 million for the original plan. Tax revenue to the city is estimated to exceed the original $149 million planned. We are working with Stein, the firm that developed the original study, to update their findings.
What are your next steps?
We hope to continue the conversation with the City and its citizens to create a development that meets our shared goal of boosting tax revenue and attracting more commercial, hospitality and retail to the area. At the same time, we hope to create a space for the citizens of Rowlett and its neighbors to enjoy on a regular basis.
Who created this new plan?
We’ve assembled a design and development team, which consists of some of the top experts in their respective industries. They’ve been involved in tremendously successful projects, such as The Woodlands near Houston and Reston Town Center in northern Virginia, as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the US Capitol, the Pearl District in San Antonio and many other highly-regarded spaces.
You can learn more about them at discoverbayside.com/team.
Do you still see this as a true private-public partnership?
Absolutely. We believe in the Rowlett community and welcome the opportunity to continue working in partnership with the City to realize Bayside’s full potential.
The July 26th presentation was intended to begin a conversation with our valued partners.