BEHIND THE PLATE
Early Discussions About the Project
Once it became clear that, what is now known as the Chisholm Trail Parkway toll road was actually going to become a reality, investors started looking to Cleburne and the toll way area for development opportunities. The city invested in a retail study to assist in retail recruitment. Buxton Study
In 2013-14, Mayor Scott Cain had discussions concerning a potential development project for the Chisholm Trail Parkway and US Hwy 67 area. Through those discussions, the Mayor learned more about development possibilities for the area and ideas about handling traffic flows into and out of an entertainment development. The project organizers ultimately selected another city in North Texas.
In the fall of 2014, news reports indicated that the management of the Fort Worth Cats were looking for a new stadium home since the owners of LaGrave Field were looking at other investment possibilities for that land. As a result, the Mayor began to get involved with discussions and met with several people in the baseball/entertainment industry. Cleburne caught the interest of several investors as a viable possibility as a baseball/entertainment complex facility.
The decision was then made to put together a ballpark/retail/entertainment complex proposal for the City Council and citizens to consider. Different areas near the toll way and US Hwy 67 were discussed with considerations on visual impact and traffic flow this area would generate. The southeast corner of Nolan River Road and US Hwy 67 was chosen as a potential location. The Mayor presented his findings discussing the possibilities with the other Council members in executive session. Map of proposed site
NOTE: It was during this time that Mayor Pro-Tem, Dr. Robert Kelly learned that the project site is adjacent to land that he is a partner in ownership. From this time forward, Dr. Kelly has recused himself from all discussions, executive sessions and City Council votes regarding this project.
Negotiations for Time and Land
Mayor Cain met with investors during this research and development phase enlisting the professional assistance of Jaime Adams of Briggs-Freeman-Sotheby’s International who began to talk to and negotiate with agents for the four land owners in the 75 acre development tract chosen for the project.
Mr. Adams began the process required to purchase the four pieces of property identified for the project obtaining quotes, negotiating, and securing the price. The closing date for purchase of the property was scheduled for June 3, 2015.
As discussion of this public/private partnership evolved, the City Council decided that participation of a project of this magnitude should be the decision of the citizens of Cleburne and not the City Council. With the project on hold until the November election, the City had to take measures to guarantee the sale of the property if the citizens voted to approve the project. In order to extend the option to buy the property, the City had to pay a sum of money as well as agree to extend water/wastewater service to the area whether the voters approved the measure or not. Land final options
With the 75 acre property site secured until after the November election, the City Council requested proposals for a firm to help evaluate the feasibility of the baseball stadium, prepare a master plan, a concept design, and a video of how the project may appear. After the evaluation of several proposals, the City chose the company of Barron-Stark-Swift as the firm to develop the master plan that you may review here. Barron-Stark-Swift agreement RFQ Impact Study
Requests for Proposals were sent out to determine if there might be interest in the private sector for someone to partner with the City on this project. RFP – Master Developer Proposals were received and reviewed. Around the end of July the City chose New Era Partners as the private partner on the Cleburne Station project. Discussions were already underway with Donnie Nelson and Matthews Southwest.
New Era submitted a “dream team” to add to the development team and to work together on the project including firms such as New Era Resorts, Merriman Associates/Architect, Gateway Planning, Catalyst Commercial, and the City’s consultant, Barron Companies for continuity of the project. New Era will serve as the Master Developer of the private retail/entertainment portion of the project. New Era Proposal
If the citizens of Cleburne approve the project in November, New Era will purchase the land not used for the stadium, roadway and parking area. They will use this land with frontage on US Hwy 67 for the retail and restaurant portion of the development.