A new retail development anchored by Kroger was approved at the city council meeting on Tuesday night after an hour of public comments for and against the development.
City council members voted to approve rezoning applications submitted by the Weber & Company real estate development company by a 5-2 vote with council members T.J. Henley and Mike Rodgers opposing. The development will be located on the southeast corner of Farm-to-Market Road 663, also know at 9th Street, and U.S. Highway 287, down the street from Harvest Hill Church. The first phase of the development including all the infrastructure, road and Kroger will cost between $40 million and $45 million. Work on Kroger should begin in March 2016 and the store should open in March 2017.
The 53 acre development will include a Kroger grocery store and Kroger gas station and about 10 other lots for smaller retail stores and restaurants along the highway access road and 9th Street, said city planning director Kevin Lasher. The developer has already arranged to purchase several homes that exist in the development area.
“When I review and look at this proposal, I see Burleson, Mansfield, I don't see Midlothian, Texas,” said Rodgers to applause from the crowd. “What are we doing that is different, special and if we were to take a picture there with our family, what would make people say that is the Kroger in Midlothian?”
In response to Rodger's question about the company's openness to farther negotiations on the design and facade of the buildings, John Weber, president of Webber & Company, said the development had been built to the standards of the National Retailer Federation and had added several elements including alternate roof lines and masonry work to the exterior of the buildings to help the development blend with the surrounding residences.
In response to Henley's question about if his company was bringing the very best they had to offer to Midlothian, Weber said the design incorporates many new ideas and has a more modern look and feel than other developments they have done.
“We have brought many shopping complexes to the Metroplex and this is a very good shopping center,” Weber said.
The Kroger store will also be designed for a new service that allows customers to purchase goods online, pay for them and then drive up to the store for workers to load them into the vehicle, he said.
The developer was granted special permission to allow Kroger to hold outdoor tent sales up to five times a year, to display store signs on pylons on the side of the road with a maximum height of 35 feet and for the mid-sized and smaller retailer business signs on their store fronts to be larger than normal.
“Junior anchor stores feels they are just as important,” said John Weber Jr., head to leasing for Weber & Company. “If we don't have competitive signage, they won't continue looking at the area.”
Mayor Bill Houston and council member Jimmie McClure told the gathered crowd the have been hearing residents complain for years about the lack of retail in Midlothian and that sales tax dollars are flowing out of the city.
The development will help the city get better interest rated on future bonds by diversifying the city's tax base, said mayor pro tem Joe Frizzell. Lower interest rates mean residents will have to pay less for more improvements to city roads, parks and other amenities.
After the vote, Houston specifically thanked Midlothian resident Jackie McDonald for her efforts to learn about the development, educate other residents and work with council to inform them why she did not think this type of development was in the best interest of the city.

Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email bkurtz@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.