Brings the wow factor to Gun Barrel City
GUN BARREL CITY–A waterfront development is coming to Gun Barrel City that has been four months in the making. The area that once housed Big Chief Bait and Tackle and the Bait Bucket Bar and Grill will soon be under construction. Executive Director of the Gun Barrel City (GBC) Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Gayle Cooper and Mayor David Skains stated in an exclusive interview with The Monitor.
Cooper said she first spoke to Steven Haynes with YNS Development Services four months ago regarding an unaffiliated project he was interested in further down State Highway 334. “I could tell very quickly that Steven had a lot more to offer this city,” stated Cooper. She requested Haynes come in and speak with her regarding a project that the city and EDC has wanted to do. Yve Hopen who is Haynes’s wife, is the architect for the job followed by a team of people that works with Haynes and Hopen.
“I think the most important part of this project, outside of what is being given to the community, is the fact that it’s a partnership with the EDC and developer. It not only provides sales tax revenue for the city, but it will provide revenue to the EDC as well,” said Skains.
Visitors and residents of the Cedar Creek Lake Area can expect to see, upon its completion in the summer of 2025, a mini version of The Harbor area of Rockwall. Sitting steps and a splash water feature will accompany a 50-room upscale boutique hotel that Cooper says is anticipated to be a Hilton Tapestry Hotel, but they are not ruling out Marriot or a Hyatt boutique branded hotel. Retail and restaurant space will also be offered including generous parking space for the retail, restaurants and hotel with a combination of 148 spaces. Boat slips and a fishing area have also been planned into the design. Another entrance and exit will be added to that area to prevent traffic on the nearby Gale Drive Cooper and Skains explained.
With the current site plan, neighbors that live on Jeffery Circle will not have an obstructed view. In 2015, the city talked about doing something originally and several members of the community came to voice their opinion at that point in time. “The main point that they were wanting was to make sure they still had some green space out there,” said Skains. In the site plan, there is not only green space but a splash water feature. “I think they are going to be happy with it, I really do,” Skains says.
Cooper says grants and various financial opportunities that are offered will be taken advantage of in this development because it is a big project. The preliminary budget shows the total cost of the project will be around $15 million funded by a combination of boating infrastructure and boating access grants, but primarily it is YNS Services funding it says Cooper. The EDC and the city are hopeful that the property appraisal is favorable, providing $1.5 million to the project, plus $500,000 that the EDC is contributing to the partnership.
When asked what they hoped the development would bring to the lake area Cooper responded, “A new vibe for the city of Gun Barrel and a lot of wonderful sales taxes, hotel occupancy taxes that we badly need because we don’t have a property tax.” Skains followed up Cooper’s comment stating that funding for roads in Gun Barrel City is through sales tax because there is not a city property tax. An eighth of a percent of sales tax goes to roads and the previous .50% that came to the EDC was cut in half to also fund roads. “We also get Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) that assist with roads,” says Skains.
Skains stated that he feels like projects such as this, gives an elevated feel to the city and appropriately matches the demographic of our area. “Which will attract other new businesses that are elevated and help us continue to grow,” Skains stated then continued, “When I first became mayor I was asked by many people what was my agenda. I always say the same thing, I retired here. I want a better city than what I came in with so I’m hoping that when I leave, I leave with a better city than what I came in. This is a step in that direction for sure.”
The development will also be constructed using a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan. This loan is a type of financing that is available to make energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy improvements at a commercial or residential property. Cooper says it will also decrease the cost of the loan over time. The concrete that must be removed during the construction process, will also be reused for a breakwater to calm the waves in that area.
This project will bring a wow factor to those coming across the new 334 bridge into Gun Barrel City. This wow factor is what Cooper has been searching for ever since the EDC acquired Big Chief Landing. Skains agrees, the wow factor is what he is most excited to see, “That feeling of wow Gun Barrel is really improving, that’s what I’m for.”
The addition of retail shopping, restaurants and an upscale hotel for the visitors of current residents, also provides unseen advantages to the city. The addition of police officers, firemen, improved city streets, due to increased revenue of sales tax. “Because we have had an increase of sales tax this year, we added three firefighters and two police officers. So, we’re using that money where we said we would use it. Those things are made possible by sales tax and sales tax increases are made possible by economic development,” stated Skains.
What does the mayor and Cooper want you as citizens to know about this development? Cooper says that it’s a community amenity with a gathering place for people. “Kids will be able to do the splash park thing with recirculating water. It’ll be so fun. Those that are having guests in town haven’t really had a good place to put them and now they will,” Cooper explained. Skains says he would like for people to know that they are finally bringing in the splash water feature that has been asked for, for a long time and weren’t able to bring in before. “The citizens were kept in mind as this development and plan was coming together, we never lost sight of what the citizens had asked us about in 2015. Because the citizens have told us undoubtedly they do not want a property tax, we have to do things that will generate more sales tax in order to support them with police and fire departments,” Skains stated.
Cooper didn’t provide an exact date of the Pier 334 ground breaking, but she says it’s coming. Soon.