- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
Paris Economic Development Corp. has decided to say “No thanks” to the city’s offer to swap land at the industrial park for property at the airport.
“There are a lot of different factors that are keeping this from happening,” PEDC Board Chairman Kenny Dority said following Thursday’s special meeting to consider the deal.
“Instead of postponing it and having the city go down this route, we figured it was better to tell them now rather than kick the can down the road.”
Mayor AJ Hashmi unveiled a proposal to the City Council earlier this week that would create more single-family residences by converting the industrial park on the northwest loop into a residential subdivision. He noted the city issued only 11 building permits for new homes last year.
The mayor pitched his idea first to PEDC in a closed session last week, then made the presentation in open session at the City Council meeting Monday. Local builders opposed the ideal, saying it would put the city in competition with builders, developers and realtors.
The mayor said on Friday he was fine with the PEDC’s action.
At Thursday’s meeting, board member Bruce Carr made a motion that PEDC not participate in the proposed land swap and keep the industrial park as is for purposes of industrial development Toni Clem seconded, and the motion passed by a 3-0 vote with Bill Harris abstaining for lack of information, said Shannon Barrentine, assistant executive director of the PEDC.
One thing that was unclear is whether the city could force the swap anyway. The industrial foundation donated the land for the park to PEDC, but the economic development corporation is a subdivision of the city.
Hashmi said he won’t challenge the PEDC’s vote and is pleased that the PEDC along with builders, developers and others have indicated their eagerness to work together to find a way to get more single-family homes in the city.
The deal had several potential obstacles, Dority said. For one, some worried that any funds raised through sale of land at the airport would have to be reinvested in the airport rather than other development projects.
There’s also the fact that PEDC is working to get a rail spur on the back of the industrial park. Rail access is important to many industrial developers, Dority said.
“It has been brought up we haven’t had a lot of new industrial development in the last several years, but we feel it’s an important tool for us to have going forward whether we recruit anything new or not,” he said.
Infrastructure, such as water and sewer, is also a concern. The industrial park has already been developed, but the airport would require work. The city talked about helping to bring in infrastructure, Dority said, but that could take too long.
“If the industrial site is developed at the airport, it’s possible the FAA would have to give approval as to what kind of industry could go in there, and perhaps TxDOT as well,” he said.