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Town center on Selma drawing board

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Selma is planning on the development of a major mixed-use project that will include retail sites, residential and other amenities. Officials hope it will become a major economic anchor. Courtesy illustration

SELMA — A mammoth mixed-use town center could be on its way to rival nearby shopping complexes and multiuse outlets, officials said.

City leaders recently approved a conceptual master plan for the 55-acre project, dubbed Selma Town Center.

Designs call for retail, office, entertainment and residential spaces.

Mayor Tom Daly, who described the undertaking as “freaking incredible” after viewing renderings, said it would be unique to the region.

He compared it to The Forum at Olympia Parkway shopping mall and burgeoning entertainment complexes in Schertz and Cibolo.

City officials want to attract local and homegrown businesses to the center, which they say will mirror Pearl in downtown San Antonio.

They said the development is just another example of the commercial and residential boom along Interstate 35 North.

“The idea is to create an area that promotes ‘entrepreneurism,’ business innovation and small-business growth,” Councilman Kevin Hadas said. “This is the place where small business can come be at home with other small business and the community. Because of this, we believe this will be a destination where people will want to live and play.”

Selma Town Center has been 18 months in the making, said politicos, who worked with residents and stakeholders – including The Chamber and the landowners the Johns family — on its conception.

Douglas Architects is the firm working on the project’s schematics.

During a March 12 presentation, officials estimated the center could generate an annual tax impact of $2.1 million and create 4,200 jobs.

Planners also projected the venture — earmarked along Lookout Road and Schertz Parkway — might attract visitors from a 50- to 70-mile radius.

Connectivity to San Antonio and Austin made the location near I-35 attractive to city leaders, project representatives said.

“The growth out here is explosive,” Hadas said. “We felt now is the time to ride the wave.”

Leonard Johns, co-owner of the Blue Bonnet Palace, which would adjoin the Town Center, has dreamt of Selma having its own mixed-use outlet since 1978. Johns said Daly and City Administrator Johnny Casias have been tireless in their cooperation to make that dream a reality.

“We want to make sure that the residents that bought a house here and invested in the city are living here for a long time and don’t go anywhere,” said Daly, who has been working with Johns on the mixed-use concept since becoming mayor in 2010.

Added Johns: “We need a downtown for these folks. They need to be right here with us.”

City officials said the Schertz and Cibolo multiuse developments – currently anchored by EVO’s and Santikos’ entertainment complexes, respectively – didn’t influence their strategic plans as The Forum already houses national retailers.

A portion of The Forum is located in Selma.

Last year, Swedish retailer Ikea opened a store next door in Live Oak to great fanfare.

“It would be great to build a Disney, French Quarter or Gruene, but this (town center) will be our version,” Hadas said.

The site’s retail and entertainment districts are expected to total 490,000 square feet, project representatives said. It could include hotels.

Its residential component – which city officials noted would include townhomes and condos – would total 375,000 square feet, with the office section just under 300,000 square feet.

The mixed-use site, estimated overall to cover some 2 million square feet, would be built under a 10- to 20-year phased public-private partnership.

“(The town center) gives the feel you can live, work and play in a small area,” Casias said.

Municipal leaders said with the approval of the master plan, preparation and additional development could take up to a year before construction starts.

Find this story and more at www.localcommunitynews.com.

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