Colleyville’s $8M gateway towers are nearly complete. What will the impact be?dfwnewsa | November 20, 2023 | 1 | Dallas News , Fort Worth , Fort Worth News
Colleyville Mayor Bobby Lindamood doesn’t want the city to look anything like Radiator Springs, the fictional run-down town in the 2006 Disney movie “Cars” that is left behind by construction of new highways.
That’s why he believes in former Mayor Richard Newton’s vision to beautify Texas Highway 26 over three phases.
Early phases of the project, funded through revenue from Colleyville’s tax increment financing district, involved installing decorative light poles and planting trees in medians of the six-lane roadway. The city is now finishing the last part of the project — stone “gateway” towers in three locations and welcome signs — which carries an $8.3 million price tag.
The towers and beautification efforts are meant to help the 13-square-mile city stand out amid the crowded northeast Tarrant County landscape and attract businesses to the area.
“Everybody used to say, ‘Hey, where’s Colleyville?’” Lindamood, who was elected mayor last year, said. “We don’t know where that’s at. Now, they know where we’re at.”
Experts, including researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and MIT, say beautification efforts in cities have a tangible economic impact. A 2019 study found that metropolitan areas perceived as picturesque had 10% higher population growth, in addition to attracting more well-educated people and faster house price appreciation.
“With these attractions, businesses are starting to take notice,” Lindamood said. “They see that our taxes are low, and they see that we’re investing into our town. And they love it.”
But when it comes to the Colleyville towers, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Completion of the project has been delayed by more than a year, leading to traffic headaches and more residential scrutiny of the towers. The city’s latest estimate for completion is January, and city officials say they’re fining contractor C. Green Scaping $3,000 per day until the project is finished.
Some residents say the towers are a welcome addition to their commute, helping drivers see where Colleyville ends and other suburbs like Hurst and Grapevine begin. Others ask: Was it worth it?
Beverley Rogers Figueroa, who has called Colleyville home since 1996, said city officials offered plenty of opportunities for residents’ input on the design of the gateways. From what she’s seen so far, the towers are extremely well-built.
“I love how they look, because none of them are the same. I like that asymmetry piece of it,” she said. “The sign at the north entrance of the city has lights and is fabulous looking. What a great beacon for people to see, because we’ve had very small signs or no signs at all.”
But residents are divided on whether the towers are a beneficial use of tax revenue meant to draw businesses to Colleyville. Some simply don’t like their appearance. One running joke shared in community Facebook groups calls the gateways on the edge of town “sniper towers.”
Brad Foster, a mortgage adviser who lives in Colleyville, called the towers an “overindulgence” that gives visitors the impression the city is trying too hard to distinguish itself from other suburbs such as Southlake. He doesn’t mind the new signage, but the same effect could have been achieved with a video screen, Foster said.
“It was an absolute waste of money,” he said. “It generates zero money for the city. It doesn’t bring any tax revenue in. It doesn’t bring anybody additional in to spend money in my city. It has no functionality whatsoever other than people drive through and go, ‘Can you believe this joke?’”
Businesses feel impact of one-year delay
Everyone, including Lindamood and City Manager Jerry Ducay, can agree on one thing: The towers should have been finished by now. Contractor C. Green Scaping agreed to finish the project in one year, between November 2021 and November 2022.
A year later, city officials and residents are still waiting to see the final product. C. Green Scaping did not return phone calls requesting comment about the project.
The company is now paying the price, with city officials fining C. Green Scaping $3,000 per day. Officials started with a $1,500 daily fine for 60 days starting Nov. 1, 2022. The penalty increased to $3,000 after Dec. 31, 2022.
Why has it taken so long? Lindamood said that’s the $1 million question — about the same amount of money the city has charged so far in late fees.
Labor shortages and delays in obtaining construction materials have likely played a role, Lindamood said.
“They know they’re on a timeline and that they’re being fined daily,” he said.
Varand Toros-Adami, who runs Adami Music Academy with his wife, Anoush Gedeonyan, has felt the impact of the delayed timeline. His business lies in the shadow of the two towers, at the intersection of Highway 26 and Main Street. Construction always slows business, he said, and the tower project has been no different.
Crews kicked up dust along the road, and he occasionally had to replace flat tires, he said. The unified appearance of the towers looks nice, he said, but they also block some drivers from seeing the academy’s sign. Toros-Adami’s main concern, however, is how long it has taken for the gateways to be built.
“This is not that big of a project for them to take that long and be (so) dusty,” Toros-Adami said. Noting that the roofing and real estate companies next door rely less on customer foot traffic, he said, “But … we need people to come in, drive in, and they need to be in this area. From our perspective, we were the ones who suffered the most.”
‘You know you’re in Colleyville’
For Figueroa, who has watched Colleyville transform from pastureland to a thriving bedroom community, the towers will be worth the time and money. No one wants to live or work in an ugly place, she said.
“People like to be located in areas that get a lot of traffic, but they also like it to be aesthetically pleasing,” Figueroa said. “If you live in a trashy town, nobody wants to open a business in your trashy town.”
Lindamood recognizes not everyone will like the towers but said he weighs some of the criticism with a grain of salt. The money from the tax increment financing district program is being used for its intended purpose: improving the Highway 26 corridor.
Revenue from the taxing district also goes toward sending each resident an annual $35 gift card to spend in stores along the roadway and giving grants to business owners to fund storefront renovations, fire safety improvements and marketing.
The tower project does more than beautify the streets, Lindamood said. It gets people talking.
“The first thing that I say to them is, ‘I’m glad you noticed the towers. They’re doing exactly what they were supposed to do,’” he said. “When you pull into Colleyville, you see the towers, and you know you’re in Colleyville, not Radiator Springs.”
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at email@example.com.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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