Despite pleas requesting protection against big box grocers at the LH Town Center, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to approve changes to the development agreement with PC LH Land Partners (Prescott) without addressing the issue of grocer size. That leaves the choice of anchor tenant up to Prescott and the (currently difficult) free market, with input and limited oversight by the TIF Board, its Design Review Committee and their not-yet-named private consulting firm.

The council’s action today increases TIF revenues to PC LH from $23 to 40 million, allows PC LH to hire a consultant, extends project deadlines, and allows PC LH to begin collecting TIF funds now.

“Does it make sense to increase TIF revenues to this developer without a site plan in place and without restraints?” asked Graham Irvine, who spoke to the Dallas City Council on behalf of JAH Realty, which owns the shopping center at Skillman and Royal.

Tommy Mann, who also represents JAH and who recently purchased a home in LH, urged the city to give the TIF board some guidance and direction as further plans are developed.

“We’re not opposed to using TIF funds to redevelop the Skillman Corridor,” said Michael Coker, also representing JAH. “The LH Town Center adds to the quality of life of the community. But we’ve been good corporate citizens and another big box competitor will do us harm. We prefer the playing field to remain level.”

Specifically, JAH is asking that “no separate retail element be greater than 30,000 square feet.” That would keep Tom Thumb from consolidating two stores – the Skillman/Royal and the Skillman/Abrams locations – into one LHTC flagship store. According to JAH, this would lead to a net reduction in overall tax revenue, contrary to the mission of the TIF.

“A small box store could have a big impact,” said Billy MacLeod, who spoke as an LH citizen against a big grocer. “If you allow a big box store, two separate shopping centers might die. The sentiment of the community is: We want a small box store.”