Temple: Council Tees Up Tax Break Deals for $100M Battery Factory, Downtown Developer
by Adolfo Pesquera
Temple (Bell County) — Two tax abatement agreements–one for a $100 million battery factory and the other for a $6 million downtown block rehabilitation–are expected to be passed Thursday by City Council.
The December 6 regular session of City Council is slated to pass on second reading an agreement with Waco-based Turner Real Estate LLC. Led by brothers Shane and CodyTurner, TRE is a private investment and development firm that has earned recognition of late for its downtown revitalization projects. The brothers converted a 98-year-old downtown Waco warehouse into Altura Luxury Lofts and they renovated the century old Hippodrome Theatre into a modern entertainment and dining complex.
Temple leaders hope the Turners can work that magic on the frayed edge of the downtown’s east end. In the agreement, the city will transfer ownership of the abandoned historic Hawn Hotel; built in 1927-1928 as the Doering Hotel, it changed name in 1943. The Hawn is nine stories and has an area of 40,000 square feet.
The historic Hawn Hotel (right), Arcadia Theater (center) and the adjacent Public Services Bldg (left of center) will be redeveloped by Turner Real Estate LLC. Image: Google Streets.
The city will also convey a parking lot behind the Hawn that faces Adams Avenue, and the Public Services Building, (a former Sears location that was converted to city offices). It’s located at the opposite corner of East Central Avenue on the same block as the hotel. Other city concessions include reimbursement funds of $250,000 for façade improvements, signage, demolition and design work; and $300,000 for asbestos and lead abatement expenses in the Hawn, Public Services, and Arcadia Theater buildings.
Temple Historic Arcadia Theatre Inc., a party to the agreement, is turning over control of the theater that sits between the Hawn and Public Services buildings. The Arcadia was constructed in 1928 and operated as a live entertainment and cinema house for 50 years.
Other city concessions include the lease of a second parking lot at favorable terms, access to wastewater services for the three buildings, and a public investment of up to $1.6 million for design and construction of public realm enhancements–intersection improvements, landscaping, signage, monuments, dry utility relocations.
For its part, TRE agrees to invest at least $6 million and create a mixed-use development to include residential, retail and entertainment uses. The Arcadia will be renovated to reopen as a multi-purpose event center and performance hall.
The block to be developed is on the east end of downtown, a block away from City Hall. Image: Google Earth.
The rehab must be done within three years of the date of conveyance for each property. The tax abatement plan covers 100 percent of property value over the first five years and declines at an annual 10 percent drop from Year 6 to Year 10.
The deal with TRE began the summer of 2017 when the city released a Request For Proposals to redevelop the block.
East Penn Manufacturing Co.
The other tax abatement agreement is for an expansion project of East Penn Manufacturing Co., which has a small plant west by southwest of Temple that employs 80 workers. East Penn plans to build a new plant on Temple’s north side on land that is within a 305-acre industrial park owned by the Temple Economic Development Corp.
A 300,000-square-foot facility is to be located on about 37 acres located southeast of the intersection of Wendland Road and Moores Mill Road.
“East Penn produces Transportation/SLI (starting, lighting, and ignition) batteries. It plans to construct a new finishing distribution center on the property,” the tax abatement agreement states. “East Penn estimates its investment will be approximately $100 million in real and personal property improvements.”
A November press release from the Office of the Texas Governor described this as a $106-million project. East Penn also received an incentive grant offer of $1,356,600 from the Texas Enterprise Fund.
The city’s abatement period is for 50 percent of the appraised value of completed improvements and is to be in place for five years. The new facility will require about 266 employees.
East Penn is based in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania. It’s best known for the Deka brand batteries.
The existing East Penn facility in Temple/Courtesy of Google Streets; and an inset map showing both locations/Courtesy of Google Earth. Graphics: Adolfo Pesquera.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.