A couple of posts ago, I wrote that I thought Rowlett should be rebranded as a resort town. I still believe that. We've been dealt all the cards for this opportunity. Now we have to play the hand right.
A good resort town (or any good town, for that matter) needs some things to make life desirable and comfortable. A good resort town orchestrates the good hand into a place where people want to be, over all else. What's in it for us? We residents, that already own property, will watch the value of that property grow beyond the norm for the area. Not only is it good for our balance sheet, but it's also good for our self esteem. We will feel good about where we live.
What's a good town need? It needs something to bond it .........an identity......something like a 23,000 acre lake, or an ocean. It needs good housing for all residents, slum free. It needs Schools, restaurants, and major grocery shopping. A really good town has excellent medical facilities and excellent transportation capabilities. Jobs can be important, but nearby jobs will suffice. The town needs to be so desirable that others want to live there. Every one of those ingredients above are within five minutes of my house.
Rowlett has all that. Now we need to apply our good fortunes.
First and foremost, we have 23 miles of shoreline on Lake Ray Hubbard. That is better than being surrounded by wheat fields. By annexation, we have acquired I-30, after never having an Interstate thru town. Earlier, we had acquired DART and the Bush Tollway going right thru town. Our medical community has grown very fast, with increased hospital facilities, nursing homes, and doctor's offices. I have watched Rowlett acquire all these attributes during my 43 years of living here. All the above supplied ingredients to provide marketing opportunities for a major development. Bayside was added to the formula, and rounded out the appeal list. The lake, the transportation, and the willingness of a nearby town with all the necessary qualities made Bayside possible. Please note: The City of Rowlett needed Bayside to round out their needs, and Bayside needed the city to provide help that Bayside needed. Folks, that's called a "symbiotic relationship." In other words, we need each other.
About 10 years ago, I began writing some columns for the Dallas Morning News. I wrote three stories on Lake Ray Hubbard and what should happen to an area we now call Bayside. They came to pass.
To shorten a story, a developer purchased the land we now call Bayside, with intentions of development. The City of Rowlett was courted as a partner because of Bayside's need for police protection, utilities, infrastructure roads, and tax help. The developer made representations to entice the City of Rowlett to enter into a "relationship" whereby Bayside would be developed to provide certain characteristics that appealed to the City of Rowlett; like an 8 acre, clear water pond with a large fountain, and world wide notoriety, plus other "stuff.". This was exactly the thing Rowlett needed to round out the excellent cards dealt and become a very desirable place to live, intending to include all the people that own snow blowers. When these "snow blower" people decide to relocate and retire, they bring a lot of disposable income with them. They like nice "stuff." When we think about retiring in a resort area, we think of sandy beaches and palm trees. When people in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Omaha think about retiring south, they go where Home Depot doesn't have snow blowers. The Rowlett Home Depot doesn't offer snow blowers.
Now, the owners of Bayside made representations, along with the first developer, to the City of Rowlett. Those plans were accepted by the city to justify their entry into the project with the aids they could bring to the table. Commitments were made by the city, including tax deference. Subsequently, the first developer was replaced and the owners appeared on Thursday evening with their new developer. What a surprise!!
It would appear many of the promises made by the owner and new developer are not now intended to be honored. Reasons were given. Very weak reasons. Therefore, in the presence of such weak arguments, and an absence of good factual data, I am furious. The CON was in!!
Was it planned this way? I really don't think so. What I think happened was a new business plan was developed by the new developer and submitted to the owner. For what ever reason, the owners replaced the first developer and they proposed a new development plan concocted by the new developer. I can almost guarantee you the new plan provided for a much more generous income stream for the owners. I don't object to that. That is, providing the redrafting of the plan did not materially change the plan from what was presented to their "partner," the City of Rowlett. Tweaking the dials is almost always present in development. However, in this case, Lucy pulled the football right out from under the City of Rowlett. I think the current developer pulled a successful con job on the owners with an arithmetic game to provide more income to the owners. They did this by removing some of the amenities, including the pool and fountain. This was without any additional consideration to other principals. Folks, that's stupid. Particularly when your partner controls zoning, inspections, permits and tax considerations. I can't think of any other word than Stupid.
The same con that worked on the owners didn't work on Rowlett's City Council. Oh, all that BS that the costs of the remodel of the marina would cost as much as the pool and fountain is just crap. It's a lie. Tom, the spokesman for the developer is not to be trusted. If I was the police chief, I wouldn't allow him back in town. Besides that, he talks too much.
Look at what out Council now has to do. They get to go out to their constituents and outside world and say, "Remember that pool and fountain? We didn't really mean it."
If I was King of Rowlett, I would contact the owners of Bayside, and remind them they have a partner. Secondly, I would have them fire the second developer before they could ever set foot in my kingdom again. Thirdly, I would try to set down at the table with them and work out the deal around a more formal basis. (Absent Tom).
The owners of Bayside need Rowlett. However, Rowlett needs Bayside for more than just another development. We need it to make Rowlett the town it should be. Representations were made to entice the City to take a course of action. Now the representations are recanted. In my opinion, I think our Council were treated as dummies. They ain't.
I used to be a "big dollar" work out specialist on large defaulted and foreclosed development loans. If the owners wanted to play "hardball," I could show them how.