Future Town Center Information
About This Project
In 2020, the Early Municipal Development District purchased 65 acres of land that runs adjacent to the Pecan Bayou. It did not take long before there was a agreement for the future of the property. It should be used to develop a Town Center.
Initial Press Release (November 2020)
Picture the future of Early, Texas. What do you see? New stores, new parks, new housing? While all of that is true, the City of Early is working on something much larger. Now look at Early today. What is it missing? A town center? Yes, that is correct. The City of Early currently does not have an official town center, so the plans to construct one is underway.
“The City of Early really lacks a Town Center area because it is a relatively young city. It was incorporated in the 50s and there was never really a town square or any historical buildings. So, Early has always had this desire to have a town center or a central place where they can dine, shop and have recreation.” Commented Early’s City Administrator Tony Aaron.
The town center will be located behind the businesses that stretch from Humphrey Pete’s to the CEFCO gas station on Early Blvd. Stretching from the Pecan Bayou to CR 381 there is a lot of 57.141 acres of land that has caught the attention of the City for quite some time and was recently purchased by the Early Municipal Development District.
“The city has always looked at this property that the MDD has recently purchased as a possible expansion area that could possibly bring in additional commercial and residential areas and then become that town center.” Said Aaron.
The land is split into two very different but equally important sections. One half is inside the flood-plain, however, it is being looked at as land that would be perfect for a park, a possible par 3 golf course, walking trails, etc. There are many possibilities of land use for this section of the acreage. The second half of the land is above the flood plain and separated by a large pond on the property. In this section is where you would find the City Hall, town homes, commercial businesses, and so on.
“It’s right on the edge of our commercial corridor, it has a lot of trees, it has some water features, it has everything that would really provide for a good canvas to paint that vision.” Tony Aaron added.
Currently the City is in the early stages of conceptual design for this town center. The graphic shows what the city has planned so far, in regards to the layout of the land. The process of building a town center will take some time but very important steps have already been taken. Plans to build a road behind the businesses off of Early Blvd. will begin very shortly. A short road currently exists just behind the CEFCO gas station but quickly comes to a dead end. The city plans on extending that road out, all the way to Humphrey Pete’s. This road will make it easier for getting in and out of some of those businesses and alleviate some of the traffic on Early Blvd.
“We hope to make that road very ‘walkable’ with lamp post lighting. Towards the end of the road as you get closer to the bayou, we would like to add some nice public parking to allow for buses or trucks with trailers to have a place to park.”
This road will mark the beginning of the town center development and is expected to be completed by April of 2021. The parking lot will also act as the beginning of a trail head that will feature a nice walking trail. The walking trail will run along the Pecan Bayou through amongst the pecan groves that have been around for many years.
Now moving up to the other side of the property, we can envision the town center itself. The plan for this area is to include town home style housing surrounded by great shopping with sidewalks on every street making it easy to walk from business to business.
“There’s plenty of room in that upper area, towards Old May Road, to really make this happen and we are really excited about just having the land that allows us to continue to grow.”
Tony says that there’s plenty of commercial and residential growth here and that this is just another opportunity to see that growth continue. The city’s hope is that these plans for a town center will show developers that are interested in investing in Early that the city is receptive to growth and that there is a vision and a distinct image of the future for the City of Early.
This land is a perfect opportunity for the city to re-shape itself and to create a future that all of its citizens can be proud of. Watch this video to see drone footage of the land being developed.
Recreational Component of the Property
The land is split into two very different but equally important sections. One half is inside the flood-plain, however, it is being looked at as land that would be perfect for recreational amenities such as:
- Large open spaces
- Batting Cages
- Golf Course or golfing components
- Walking Trails
- Wetlands educational area
- outdoor stage
- picnic areas
There are many other possibilities of land use for this section of the acreage.
The Early MDD hired Brian Ross with Ross Golf Design to study and develop several recreational concepts for the project.
See below a few renderings of the possibilities for the use of this section of the land.
Public Hearing 5-27-2021
A public hearing was held in May to give citizens the opportunity to learn more in depth about the recreational side of the development. Citizens were also given the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns or just give general input. In addition, there were 18 boards with an amenity on each board and a description of that amenity. Citizens were then given 18 stars to act as "votes." Citizens were allowed to place how ever many stars they wished on those boards.
The event was a success and the City of Early learned a lot about the desires of the public. People who were unable to attend the public hearing can still give their input by clicking the link below.
The second half of the land is or will be outside of the flood plain and separated by a large pond on the property. The area is over 25 acres of land that will be used as a mix-use area that could have a mixture of governmental buildings, apartments, condos, town homes, office space, retail shopping and, dining. This portion of the proposed development will be the economic engine that will generate new property tax, sales tax, and utility revenue that can be used to make the project a financial reality and limit or avoid any direct cost to our current tax payers. Currently, the Early MDD has hired Tod Hanson with Schwarz-Hanson Architects out of Ft. Worth, Texas. You may recognize the company and name. Tod Hanson was the lead designer on the City of Early's Visitors and Event Center. Schwarz-Hanson is working on several conceptional designs for the mixed-use development. One exciting element of the design will include a public boardwalk extending from one end of the pond to the other. Renderings of options for land use for this portion of the property will be posted here in the near future.
The Trip for Inspiration
On April 20, 2021, the Early Municipal Development District board and city staff took a day trip to several towns around the Fort Worth area. These towns included, Granbury, Benbrook, Grapevine, Southlake, Fort Worth and Roanoke. The board traveled to these towns to see examples of some of the elements that could become a part of this development. A report of this research trip was shared with the Early City Council and will be made part of public hearings in the near future.
Below are photographs from this trip that show a few of those elements and some of the inspiration for the project:
This pier in Granbury, TX is a terrific example of what you might see in the commercial development side of the property overlooking the water feature.
Another look at the pier in Granbury, TX.
These stop signs in Roanoke, TX caught the eyes of the MDD board. This is a style that you might find in the commercial side of the development.
Here are some apartments in Roanoke, TX that have shopping on the first floor. This is an element within the commercial development that has been discussed in MDD meetings.
The streets of Roanoke, TX
The Early Municipal Development District Board in Roanoke, TX as they wrapped up their trip across the state. This photo shows the aesthetics of the roads in Roanoke which has the closest look to what the City of Early is going for in regards to the commercial side of the property.
These are the batting cages in Benbrook, TX. The City of Early has proposed the possibility of adding batting cages to the recreation portion of the Town Center project and this is a great example of what they may look like.
An element that the MDD board really enjoyed was this park area in Southlake, TX. The aesthetics of the landscaping along with the benches, lighting, trashcans, etc., are all elements that you may find in the Town Center Development.
A gazebo such as this one in Southlake, TX could be found in the recreational side of the property and serve as an amphitheater as well as a great location for events.
Another small gazebo that may be found along the water line in the recreational portion of the property. This one was found in Grapevine, TX.
Steps to making the Town Center Vision a reality.
"Kelcy Way" design and Construction
Access to the property and future Town Center will exist in the near future. The City of Early has employed Volkert Engineering to design a street being called "Kelcy Way" Named after a family of long term residence to the City of Early and long term owners of the property, Kelcy Way will begin off of the Old May road behind the Cefco gas station. It will continue along the back of several business on Early Blvd. and provide those businesses with another route for the customers to access them. The road will end behind Humphry Pete's with a large public 100+ parking lot. The lot will provide overflow parking for area businesses and will also be the parking of the recreational area of the property. Additionally, another new road will be built between O Riley's and La Botana that will connect Early Blvd. and the newly constructed Kelcy Way. Construction plans are expected to be completed this summer with construction of the roads to begin as soon as late summer or early fall. The estimated cost of construction is yet to be determined, but It should be noted that it will be paid for with sales tax generated from the growing and outstanding local economy of Early, Texas.
Below is an early rendering of what these roads and parking lots could look like.
Timeline for the Project
As you can imagine, putting a timeline in place for a project of this magnitude and diversity is no easy task. While there are many things happening all at the same time we are setting our goal of completion by individual projects within the overall vision. The completion of Kelcy Way is necessary to access the recreational areas, and to provide access and utilities up to the mixed-use development area. By the time that the construction component of that project kicks off, we can begin to think about the next phase of road and utility design. At this time, we will also be working on selling the property to commercial developers for them to begin their planning. Overall we anticipate Kelcy Way to be completed in the first part of 2022; The recreational components to begin construction in 2022; and By the beginning of 2023 you should see the construction of some of the first commercial and multi-family projects.
With a project of this size 5 to 10 years is not a long time for it to take to build it out. However, if the right development company identifies and sees the value of our project this timeline could be greatly accelerated. We strongly believe that public private partnerships is the key to having a successful project and completing it at the lowest possible cost to the citizens of Early, Texas
Watch this video of Larry McConn speaking about the project!
There's plenty of commercial and residential growth here and this is just another opportunity to see that growth continue. The city's hope is that these plans for a town center will show developers that are interested in investing in Early that we are receptive to growth and that there is a vision and a distinct image of the future of the City of Early.