A plan to redevelop property in the Milltown area of New Braunfels, which includes a hotel, retail and restaurant space, office and event space and multifamily dwelling units, took a small step toward reality this week.
New Braunfels City Council members on Monday gave initial approval to a measure that would rezone the property from heavy industrial to a less intense mixed-use district to facilitate redevelopment under the project plan improvements identified in the River Mill tax increment reinvestment zone.
A second and final reading of the measure would come up for council consideration on Jan. 10.
The subject property, owned by San Antonio-based DRT-PMP Land LLC, includes 29 acres comprising 17 parcels of land adjacent to Broadway Drive, Rusk Street, Porter Street and the Guadalupe River, within the area known as the Milltown Historic District, behind the New Braunfels MarketPlace shopping center. The property includes the old mill building, accessory buildings, structures and parking lots.
Don Thomas with DRT-PMP Land said the property’s design was inspired by the Pearl Brewery redevelopment in San Antonio.
“The idea is to keep some of the structures and try to reuse them,” he told council members.
One of the structures slated for reuse is the original mill building, Thomas said.
He added that in addition to the hotel and retail possibilities, the plan also includes outdoor space that could be used for concerts and other activities to generate traffic for the hotel and retail establishments.
He also added that no final decisions had been made on the redevelopment plans.
In 2019, the city established TIRZ No. 2, also known as the River Mill TIRZ, to fund a portion of the infrastructure and maintenance costs associated with developing the former Mission Valley Mill complex located on Porter Street.
In response to a question about potential changes in the master plan and land usage after a future sale of the property, Christopher Looney, the city’s planning and development services, told council members that to receive the economic incentive, the developer would still be required to comply with the provisions of the mixed-use plan laid out in the TIRZ.
“It couldn’t all be a shopping center,” Looney said. “It couldn’t all be housing.”
A tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, allows a city to capture projected increases in sales and property tax revenue created by development within a defined area and then reinvest those funds into public improvements and projects within that zone.
A preliminary feasibility study and project plan were required by state law prior to creating the TIRZ. State statute also says that no more than 30% percent of the property in the reinvestment zone can be used for residential purposes.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property that has great history with the buildings,” Thomas told the Herald-Zeitung after the meeting. “I like this type of product, so I think it will be something the city will embrace and like when it gets done.”
Mayor Rusty Brockman the potential project is in an “extremely” important area of the community.
“It’s not only historical because of what it was, but it’s historic moving forward,” Brockman said. “The whole neighborhood around there has roots to what the Mission Valley Mill was. Now we’re seeing it completely evolving into something that’s going to be really unique for our community, that not only we can tie the past and the present but to the future.”
The Planning Commission recommended approval after holding a public hearing last week.
The textile mill once stood as New Braunfels’ largest employer.
Planters and Merchants Mill of San Antonio bought the land where the mill sits in 1921, according to a column by Myra Lee Adams Goff, a local historian and author. They built a textile mill for the manufacture of fine cotton ginghams.
The plant opened as a chartered business on Porter Street in 1923.
In 1929 Planters and Merchants declared bankruptcy and closed for about a month. The mill was reorganized in August of 1931 under the name of New Braunfels Textile Mills.
The New Braunfels Textile Mill then became the Mission Valley Mills and then West Point Pepperell. During World War I, all textiles were devoted to the war effort, according to Goff, but the textile mill industry flourished after the war when materials became more plentiful. After World War II, the mill expanded, and a retail operation began.
In 2004, according to previous Herald-Zeitung stories, the last in several rounds of layoffs took place at the plant acquired by Plains Cotton Cooperative Association in the 1990s. According to newspaper reports, the American Textile Manufacturers Association blamed cheap imports on the loss of American textile jobs.
The plant shut its doors in 2005.
The meeting also saw council members recognize administrative assistant Sandy Ellison on the occasion of her retirement.
In other action during Monday’s meeting, council members:
• Approved a request for the city to consent to the addition of 19.993 acres into the existing Lone Oak Farm Municipal Utility District located on the south side of FM 758, about 1,400 feet west of the intersection of State Highway 123.
• Approved a request to consent to the creation of Comal County Municipal Utility District No. 4 within the city’s exterritorial jurisdiction in Comal County, consisting of about 349.7 acres located on the north side of FM 1863, across from Krueger Canyon and Word Ranch Roads.
• Overturned a decision from the Historic Landmark Commission that denied a Certification of Alteration to construct a new single-family dwelling located on 456 Magazine Ave., located within the Sophienburg Hill Historic District.
• Appointed Heather Harrison to the Bond Advisory Committee as the River Advisory Committee’s representative.
• Appointed Brad T. Bechtol to the Bond Advisory Committee as the Watershed Advisory Committee’s representative.
• Adopted a project and finance plan for Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 3 and established the composition and qualifications of the board.
• Approved a resolution designating Assistant City Manager Jared Werner and Finance Director Sandy Paulos as investment officers for the city.
• Approved an advanced funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for the project development and construction of traffic safety improvements on County Line Road and Hanz Drive. Under the agreement, TxDOT is responsible for bidding and cost of construction up to $601,588, while the city is responsible for design, state design review and construction-cost overruns.
• Approved an agreement with TxDOT for fixed-price joint participation in right-of-way costs associated with highway improvements at Loop 337 at River Road. Under the agreement, TxDOT is responsible for 100% of the costs of design and construction and 90% of the costs of right of way acquisition, while the city is responsible for 10% of the cost of right of way acquisition and is outlined as a fixed cost of $14,869.
• Authorized submission of the Community Development Block Grant Program’s Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report for Program Year 2020 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
• Approved annual routine recurring expenditures for fiscal year 2022 — $70,000 to Heat Safety Equipment, LLC for annual inspections and repairs and $95,000 to Cintas Corporation for uniform rental/purchase and industrial cleaning services.
• Approved a seven-year $1.8 million service provider contract renewal with Emergency Services District No. 7.
• Approved the fiscal year 2021 fourth-quarter investment report. As of Sept. 30, 2021, the city maintained about $222.7 million invested in different investment instruments, including cash. The portfolio increased by about $22.5 million in the fourth fiscal quarter due to the receipt of bond funds during the quarter.
• Approved a $400,064 purchase with Southwest Public Safety, LLC, Motorola Solutions and Lower Colorado River Authority for ancillary vehicle equipment for the police department.
• Authorized the city manager to enter into an agreement with Richard J. Leidl, P.C. for federal legislative services at a $40,500 retainer plus expenses.
• Approved a $166,365 contract with Pristine Texas Rivers Inc. for river recreation litter removal and floating vegetation services from designated riparian zones.
• Approved a $40,000 budget amendment in the fiscal year 2021 police department general fund budget.
• Approved a resolution extending the deadline to Feb. 15 for New Braunfels Utilities and Southstar at Mayfair, LP, to execute a utility agreement as a condition precedent to the creation of Comal County Water Improvement District No. 3.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance restricting parking on both sides of Independence Drive west of Oak Run Parkway from Oak Run Parkway to the end of Independence Drive.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance revising the starting date for water recreation loading zones on West Lincoln Street, Liebscher Drive, South Union Avenue, and South Gilbert Street to March 1.
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance regarding a request for rehabilitation tax credit from the property owner of 123 S. Academy Ave.
• Approved the second and final reading of a measure revising sections of the code of ordinances regarding the approval and appeals authority in zoning; parking, loading, stacking and vehicular circulation; nonresidential and multifamily design standards; temporary vending operations; temporary mobile storage units; subdivision platting; waivers and sidewalks and, amendments to the schedule of development fees.
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance regarding a proposed rezoning to apply a Special Use Permit to allow 75 dwelling units where lot area allows a maximum of 64, through the conversion of existing hotel guest rooms into studio apartments in the “C-3 AH” Commercial District Airport Hazard Overlay at 1533 IH-35 North.
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the abandonment of 0.366 of an acre of public street right-of-way at the terminus of Tolle Street by extending the deadline to execute a Deed Without Warranty by an additional 180 days.