A triangular, two-acre property off the corner of Business 121 and West Vista Ridge Mall Drive is designated as an employment center, despite the only market interests coming from gas stations.
The land, poised to act as a gateway into the city by the Lewisville 2025 plan, remains undeveloped. After owning the property for 10 years, the owners have not received offers from companies other than gas stations.
Planning director for the City of Lewisville Richard Luedke said that area has already been established as a major employment center.
“The plan calls for that concept to be further reinforced,” Luedke said. “When you enter a community and you see [this], it gives you an image the city has lots of jobs and a healthy business climate.”
Bed, Bath & Beyond and Kellogg’s both have distribution centers in the area. The Convergence office complex houses multiple businesses, including Texas Instruments. Mary Kay is also opening nearby on Nov. 1. These offices are located on the other side of Business 121 in relation to the property at hand, off Edmonds Lane and S. Valley Parkway.
Property owner Robert Payne said his company has owned the property, which was originally nine acres, since the late 1960’s. Payne explained in an email the land was divided into two parcels because of a 2008 extension of Vista Ridge Mall Drive to Business 121, resulting in the two acre parcel now in question.
In those 10 years, Payne said he’s received four offers for the land from gas station businesses Chevron, Valero, 7-Eleven and, most recently, Racetrac. City Council approved none of these.
“I don’t think we’ve received other offers from any other users,” Payne said. “It’s been frustrating. We feel like it would be hard to put an office in that tract.”
Luedke acknowledged the argument about the triangle-shaped piece of land. He said the site is larger than appears and will be able to fit the type of building wanted. He pointed to examples like the Genusys Office Building on SH 121. According to city council background materials, this building contains 30,000 square feet on three floors within a 2.1-acre lot.
He also referred to citizens’ input while making the Lewisville 2025 plan.
“One of the things our residents really reinforced is to avoid having an emphasis on auto uses on every major corridor in the city,” Luedke said. “They wanted more of a mix. [In this area] the preferred image is more of an employment center [with] companies and businesses.”
The property was most recently brought up at the Oct. 1 City Council meeting when RaceTrac requested to build one of their gas stations there. The motion to deny the special use permit was passed unanimously. The request was also unanimously not recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
RaceTrac representatives presented their pitch for the location to Council members. The RaceTrac applicant Andrew Malzer declined to comment on questions about the application process or his previous experience with RaceTrac. During the meeting however, Malzer argued the gas station would fall under an employment center.
“Thinking of RaceTrac as a service provider, we’re meeting this plan,” Malzer said, referring to the Lewisville 2025 plan. “We want to make sure we fall in line with this plan.”
Malzer also claimed he kept asking the planning staff what more he could do, but did not get a positive response back.
Councilmember TJ Gilmore asked Malzer if he had updated any information in his presentation since speaking to the planning and zoning committee. Malzer admitted it was the same, but said he didn’t see how trying to convey the use of RaceTrac was “particularly damaging.”
There are 19 other gas stations within a two mile radius of the property. At least two of those are RaceTrac stations, both of which opened this year. Councilmember Neil Ferguson brought up this point and told Malzer there’s not a shortage of gas stations in the area.
Luedke said this proposition fell under auto related uses and not an employment center.
He said the decision to deny RaceTrac their special use permit to build there is nothing against the business.
“RaceTrac is a really good company… but again, gas stations have a different nature than an office,” Luedke said.
Payne said his company recently re-listed the property, now aiming to market it for other retail companies. He said he hopes the location will attract more retailers.
“I think we just have to be patient,” he said. “It’s going to take some time to generate interest.”
Luedke said the economic development staff is working closely with different businesses to find a good fit.
“There are companies looking for that type of property with high visibility and good access,” Luedke said. “There is positive momentum in that area. I think we’ll see significant growth continue.”