The Waxahachie City Council approved a tax abatement agreement with Hobby Lobby for the company's new retail store Monday night.
The agreement will refund $300,000 for Hobby Lobby across a period of six years. Hobby Lobby's total investment in the project will be $2.65 million, said Doug Barnes, Waxahachie Director of Economic Development.
“The lease agreement for their store is 15 years with options,” Barnes said. “The annual sales are projected to be $4 million. The 380 agreement covers six years from the date that they open. The business personal property tax is not included in this refund. So it is strictly a sales tax refund.”
The new store is located in the 1200 block of N. U.S. Highway 77 between Office Depot and Tractor Supply, and occupies the space once used by Walmart and Ellis County officials for office space. The space is currently being renovated and the store is expected to open Oct. 1.
“We have been looking at Waxahachie for six or seven years. We just couldn’t find a building large enough to support what we wanted to put in here. We wanted to put in our prototype size building, which is 55,000 square feet,” said Scott Nelson, assistant vice president of Hobby Lobby. “After considerable work with both the adjacent tenants, we were finally able to get the size that we wanted. It was a difficult process getting all the economics right. We worked with everyone and finally came to the right numbers that we felt comfortable with.”
Nelson added the new store is going to hire 35-50 part time and full time employees. Minimum wage at that store is $15 an hour.
The new store will be 54,700 square feet. According to a previous Daily Light article, to accommodate the large store, Hobby Lobby and Office Depot representatives agreed that Office Depot would downsize its store from 27,500 square feet to 15,600 square feet. Hobby Lobby representatives also reached an agreement with Tractor Supply representatives to move a shared wall 13 feet to accommodate Hobby Lobby's 238-foot storefront facade. Along with Hobby Lobby's facade, the whole shopping center will receive an new facade featuring brick and stone.
According to Hobby Lobby’s website, it operates more than 600 stores across the country that average 55,000 square feet in size. Hobby Lobby offers more than 70,000 arts, crafts, hobbies, home décor, holiday and seasonal products.
The council also approved amending a resolution supporting the MKT and hike and bike transportation alternative program project. The city has applied for a grant through the Texas Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives program. If received, the city would have to pay 20 percent of the project.
Presenting the project to the council was Derica Peters, Planning and Development Coordinator. Peters told the council that since it was presented to the council, they have received some updated figures. The city portion was originally estimated at about $88,000. The new estimate from engineers is at $151,777, including administration costs.
The council approved a budget amendment for relocating a portion of the Waxahachie Creek trunk sewer line at a cost of about $300,000, which includes engineering and construction costs.
City manager Paul Stevens said the reason for the relocation of the sewer line is that TxDOT is going to be replacing a bridge that was constructed in 1951. The footings of the new bridge will go right on top of the current location of the sewer line, Stevens said.
The sewer line is currently located within the right-of-way of Farm-to-Market 875. Stevens added that TxDOT is looking to award the contract by June 1, but is still in the process of acquiring right-of-way for the project.
In other business:
• The council approved a request by the Beck Group for a specific use permit for an electronic sign for the Life School High School located at 170 Butcher Road.
• The council named Waxahachie High School senior Victor Baez as the honorary council member for the month of April.
• Mayor Kevin Strength presented a proclamation naming April 19-25 as Crime Victims' Rights Week.
• The council heard a presentation from Amy Hollywood, director of communication and marketing, about receiving the Film Friendly Certificate, which names the city as a film-friendly community by the Texas Film Commission.
• The council approved the final plat of the Oxford Ranch Two phase one subdivision for 33 residential lots located between Westmoreland road and Patrick Road.
• The council approved amending Section 15-43 of the city code of ordinances. This amendment increased the penalty from $200 to $500 for debris and trash on property.