On Monday, June 12, 2016 Texarkana, Texas City Council authorized the North Texarkana Sewer Project, heard from developer Jim Sari and citizens of Texarkana concerning the Grim Lofts, LLC redevelopment, and concerns over development on Texas Blvd.
Turnout for the meeting Monday evening exceeded fire code occupancy and several citizens had to watch from an overflow conference room. Tensions were high as locals waited for their opportunity to defend their position.
Gwen Osborne spoke regarding the Grim Hotel development. She and her sisters are concerned over the change in increased low income rate rental units that are in the Grim project plans.
Osborne recently purchased the Regions building as an investment property, one of many properties they own in the downtown area. She claims to have 30 years of experience in development and is concerned with how Sari has carried out the project so far.
“I spoke to David Orr prior to purchasing the property and he told me somewhere between 10-12 low income units for seniors. I don’t have an issue with that but he has now changed it to 98 low income units instead of market rate value.
We have invested millions of personal money in downtown Texarkana and we hope to make money one day. Our intent is to build the city; we are developers. This is a huge shift from 10 seniors to 99 low income population, where 60% of population is at low income.
Our intention was to put a lot of high end units and amenities that the public could use and that will be really difficult to do where there will be 98 low income units across the street.
They are not the kind of population that can support the kind of ideas we have. I have a PhD and when you build a culture and people come into that culture they assimilate to what is there. Is that really the kind of culture we want to bring to downtown Texarkana?”
Main Street Executive Director, Ina McDowell spoke regarding the demolition of the Kress Building.
“The taking down of the Kress Building is extremely disheartening. We were told that the facade was being saved but it is being saved in crumbles.”
Attention focused to Jim Sari as he explained the Grim Redevelopment Project at length.
“We have been trying to get this deal done for nine years and we have run into a lot of roadblocks. We tried to d market rate but financing didn’t work. Our gap was approaching $5 million.
The major difference is the math. When you do a renovation of this size you need substantial rents to make this work and they just aren’t here in this town yet.
The issue is when David and I started 5 years ago the prices haven’t changed here. In fact, I think they have regressed.
We have changed it now to see how we can still do this project and expand it. We now have Rialto, Sears, and the Grim with 130 or more units. The Rialto and Sears will all be market rate units.
I have 20 years of experience in downtown redevelopment with 80 assets, mostly in the southeast. They have never went bankrupt or defaulted on a project. There projects have won award. Tyler Grocery was Main Street Development of the year a few years ago.
We have over $20 million invested between the 3 buildings. The Grim will require about $15 million and the other two $5 million.”
Sari closed by asking the council to approve the items that they have been working on .