1. How do multi-family developments benefit the City of Rowlett and its citizens?Multi-family developments are helping the City diversify its tax base and housing stock. In general, higher density brings certain benefits that purely single-family neighborhoods may not. For example, higher density can attract a different mix of retail than usually is attributed to an area dominated by single-family. In addition, restaurants need volume to be successful and higher density areas can be desirable markets for restaurateurs.
In Rowlett, multi-family units also contribute to our property tax base and water rates.
Property Tax: Each multi-family property owner is assessed a tax based on the respective property’s assessed value. The City’s tax rate for properties with multi-family dwellings is identical to its tax rate for properties with single family dwellings with the exception that properties that are rented do not qualify for certain tax exemptions such as Homestead, Over 65 and Disabled Persons. For property taxes paid in 2019, the City’s tax rate is $0.757173 per $100 of assessed value.
Based on Rowlett’s own experience, a multi-family development will generate approximately $18,163 in property taxes per acre. By comparison, a single-family development zoned as SF-10 (10,000 square foot lots) will generate $4,255 per acre for $200,000 homes. A single-family development zoned as SF-8 (8,000 square foot lots) will generate $5,724 per acre for $200,000 homes. This means that it takes 3-4 times the amount of acreage of single-family units to equal the tax revenue of one acre of multi-family assuming a taxable value of $200,000. A tax value of $300,000 per single-family unit would still take 2-3 times the amount of acreage as one-acre of multi-family.
Water Rates: The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) is the City’s contracted water supplier. The contract requires the City to pay for a minimum of 3.2 billion gallons of water per year from NTMWD, the cost of which influences water rates for every customer in Rowlett. The City delivers approximately 2.3 billion gallons to customers annually, therefore, the cost of the unused water has to be spread over the entire customer base.
With more customers, more water is expected to be sold. This then reduces the amount of unused water for which we all pay. New customers will have a positive impact on future water rates for all customers. The addition of higher fees charged to multi-family units has also benefitted our water rates as single-family homes no longer subsidize multi-family.
2. How many of the multi-family developments and units in Rowlett are planned for senior residents?There are currently three multi-family developments in Rowlett that have a minimum age criterion as a leasing requirement. This does not include assisted living facilities or other specialized nursing/medical care facilities, which are not considered multi-family developments.
3. How does the number of multi-family units in Rowlett compare to neighboring cities?Measuring the number of multi-family dwelling units based on population provides a useful and meaningful way to compare numbers of multi-family units in Rowlett and other cities.
The Apartment Association of Greater Dallas (AAGD) was founded in 1959 and is one of the largest local rental housing associations in the United States. AAGD recently published its 2020 Multi-Family Fee Survey report, which includes comparative data from cities spread across its service area. Based on the AAGD data, there are 61 multi-family units for every 1,000 residents in Rowlett. Table 5 lists the number of multi-family units for every 1,000 residents of several other DFW cities. Comparatively, Rowlett has fewer multi-family units for every 1,000 residents than 21 of the 23 cities listed. The AAGD report includes multi-family units that are built or under construction.
4. What incentives have been provided for the construction of new multi-family developments?The City has a variety of economic development tools available to attract new businesses to Rowlett, including property tax rebates, property tax abatements, impact fee waivers/reductions, permit fee waivers/reductions, and job grants. Although the City does not actively market incentive packages for multi-family developments, it has chosen to use incentive packages to catalyze development in certain locations. The City evaluates incentive requests on a case-by-case basis according to its Economic Development Incentive Policy.
Incentive Projects:The multi-family projects Rowlett has directly incentivized are as follows:
Village of Rowlett-The City agreed to grant land to the developer in the amount of $2,120,000; waive water, wastewater and street impact fees for the project; grant infrastructure improvements to the developer in an amount not to exceed $1,950,000; and to rebate 100% of its portion of the developer’s property taxes between 2017 and 2031.
Terra Lago-The City agreed to waive roadway impact fees in an amount not to exceed $902,493; and to rebate 57% of its portion of property taxes in an amount not to exceed $2,129,450 over a 10-year period. Although the incentive was approved, the developer failed to meet the performance criteria required to collect the incentive payments and, therefore, did not qualify for the incentive. Therefore, no incentive has been or will be paid in the future.
Bayside / Sapphire Bay-The City created a tax-increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) for the Bayside/Sapphire Bay area. Under the agreement, the TIRZ will receive 50% of the property taxes paid for the first twenty years (i.e. 2015-2034) for site work, public domain and open space, and infrastructure purposes.
Non-Incentive Projects supported by Rowlett:There are other multi-family projects that are not directly incentivized by Rowlett. This includes the age-restricted development Lakeview Point, which is a tax-exempt project sponsored by the Rowlett Housing Finance Corporation. The City will be paid a property tax equivalent amount under a payment-in-lieu-of-tax arrangement under that agreement. The City also entered into a short-term loan arrangement with the age-restricted development Evergreen, which was paid back in the same year. Additional detail can be found on the City’s Economic Development Transparency Page.
5. Are drivers living in apartments to blame for the increased traffic we see City wide?Only a small percentage of the overall traffic in Rowlett can be attributed to those living in apartments. For example, drivers living in the developments along Lakeview Parkway from Chiesa to Scenic Drive contribute to approximately 14% of the traffic in the peak evening hours. Breaking it down to specific areas on Lakeview Parkway, 8.53% of the peak evening traffic at Scenic Drive is attributed to these drivers, with 2.2% near Dalrock and 3.8% at Chiesa.
The biggest driver of our traffic is derived of pass-through traffic from east of Rowlett. 15,189 cars a day pass westbound on Hwy 66 near Scenic Drive. While some of that is returning Rowlett citizens who attend school or work in Rockwall, many of these trips are from people travelling through Rowlett. This is borne out by recent data collected that reflects peak hours to be high volume are westbound in the morning and eastbound during evening traffic. The highest traffic count of any section of Rowlett is just west of PGBT where traffic counts top 23,000. This suggests that pass-through traffic could account for as much as 67% of total traffic along State Highway 66.
6. Are the new apartments contributing to Rowlett’s crime rate?Rowlett is consistently listed as one of the safest cities in Texas.. The luxury multi-family, senior living, workforce housing or mixed-use developments being built in Rowlett do not have any more impact on crime than comparable single-family developments. The crime rate in Rowlett is impacted and being driven by the substantial and significant growth in the region. Numerous factors, including easy access from I30 and PGBT, DART light-rail, and socio-economic demographics have a bigger impact on Rowlett’s crime rate than the existence and addition of multi-family developments.
7. What is driving the development of these Multi-Family Units?There is not a simple answer to this question but there are some factors contributing to the growth of quality, multi-family units. First, in a December 2019 article, State Demographer, Lloyd Potter stated that the population of Texas is growing by 1,039 every day. This growth is made up of 524 more births than deaths and 515 new residents moving to Texas from other states and countries. He also stated that “Texas has added more population than any other state” every year since 2006.
Second, a huge demographic shift occurred after the Great Recession. Many workers are choosing to live in apartments and condominiums rather than face the uncertainty and cost of owning a single-family home. This paradigm shift is significant and is being seen in north Texas from the increase in the construction of multi-family units as well as the high occupancy rate. In a November 2019 Dallas Morning News article by Steve Brown, he indicated that almost 44,000 apartments are being built in North Texas and that the predicted vacancy rate is 7.7%. In fact, DFW averaged 8.1% and 8.0% in 2018 and 2019 according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University outperforming Houston and San Antonio and right on par with Austin.
Multi-family is not the only rental outlet for today’s families. In Rowlett, there are an estimated 2,000+ single-family homes that are rented representing over 10% of the entire stock of single-family homes.
8. What has been the Community’s feedback on housing diversity?In September of 2011, the Realize Rowlett 2020 Comprehensive Plan was adopted. That document provided a framework for future development moving forward over the next nine years. The Comprehensive Plan established 13 opportunity areas that individually identified the desired product types that were anticipated to be developed within each district, including higher density residential types such as townhomes, condominiums and apartments. An analysis was included in the final document that outlined the applicability of this category as it aligned community desire with market support. The outcome of this study resulted in the reinforcement of higher density residential as a recommended product type for seven “Opportunity Areas” in key locations throughout Rowlett. Throughout the document, the Comprehensive Plan acknowledged the desire to provide a more diverse housing stock throughout the City.
One of the guiding principles of Realize Rowlett 2020 was to “make Rowlett a community that is attractive to people at all stages of their lives”.
Following the adoption of Realize Rowlett 2020, amendments to the Comprehensive Plan were made in November 7, 2012 and April 15, 2014, to further the vision of the opportunity areas. In 2012, specific areas such as Woodside Living, Healthy Living, Signature Gateway, and Downtown were further studied and rezoned to Form Based Code districts. All four Opportunity Areas included Form-Based Urban Village Districts that permit multifamily, as an allowed use. In 2014 the Northshore area was further studied and rezoned to Form Based Code districts. With the rezoning initiative, three more Form-Based categories were created and incorporated into the Form Based Code: Rural Neighborhood, Urban Neighborhood, and Commercial Center. The new districts were intended to tie into the existing Form Based Code to provide for a more complimentary range of density necessary to meet the community’s vision. Both Urban Neighborhood and Commercial Center were established with limitations on multi-family development and are described below:
Urban Neighborhood:Requires a minimum mix for 20% of the total units constructed to be comprised of any combination of: Mixed-Residential, Shopfront and Mixed-Use.
Commercial Center:Mixed-Residential units will be evaluated as part of a larger mixed-use development and may only occupy 25 percent of the land area (excluding parks and streets) or building square footage in a Regulating Plan/Phased Development Plan or Development Plan. A request to deliver more than 25 percent Mixed Residential will require approval by Major Warrant.
In 2019, the City of Rowlett adopted an update to the Comprehensive Plan that primarily focused on updating six Opportunity Areas: North Shore, Active Living, Signature Gateway, Lakeside Center, Business Beltway, and Southshore. The update also provides a Future Land Use Plan to infuse an additional layer of strategic guidance for anticipated and desired land use patterns. The update builds upon the successes of Realize Rowlett 2020 and provides further direction for how Rowlett should develop in the future. View the 2019 Rowlett Comprehensive Plan.
The vision of the updated Comprehensive Plan is “to balance Rowlett’s growth with its small town feel to provide a place with affordable and diverse housing, quality restaurants and retail, and major employers; while caring for its existing neighborhoods and maintaining its roads and infrastructure”.
A major theme and key goal that came out of the update was to provide housing that supports various lifestyles and population demographics within the community. This added emphasis on housing diversity not only tied back to the Realize Rowlett 2020 plan, but also reinforced a continued vision to deliver a mix of housing to the single-family residential product that represents a super majority of Rowlett’s current housing stock.
9. Is the City planning for all of this growth? Yes. The City uses several tools to anticipate future growth and plan for improving street, water, wastewater, drainage, and facilities infrastructure to accommodate it, which includes the following:
Although each of these plans is tailored for a specific purpose, they all work together to provide the City with a comprehensive way to plan and prioritize infrastructure projects based on current and future needs. Funding projects falls outside the scope of these plans but is addressed through other method such as selling bonds and collecting impact fees.
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What is the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD)?The NTMWD is a wholesale water provider serving more than 1.6 million people across nearly 90 communities in 10 North Texas counties, including the City of Rowlett. This water is purchased by the City of Rowlett and then passed on to Rowlett customers. The NTMWD was created in 1954 to provide drinking water and other services to its customers. It was originally created by ten cities, referred to as “member cities”, including Farmersville, Forney, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Princeton, Plano, Rockwall, Royse City, and Wylie. Today, the NTMWD services over two million residents and businesses in the north central Texas area. NTMWD rate increases ensure reliable, uninterrupted water delivery now and in the future by maintaining NTMWD’s existing system and funding future expansions.
Since then, have any other cities become members?Yes. Richardson joined in 1973, Allen in 1998, and Frisco in 2001.
Is Rowlett a member of the NTMWD?No. A “customer” agency since 1965, Rowlett is one of 14 cities and 16 utility districts that are non-member wholesalers of the NTMWD. Rowlett is the largest customer wholesaler, in terms of water usage, and would be the 8th largest water user among the member cities of the NTMWD.
Why is the City of Rowlett petitioning for membership with the NTMWD?Rowlett has long desired to be a member of the NTMWD. As a member, Rowlett would have a voice in decisions that have long impacted Rowlett residents and businesses. This originally stemmed from concerns with the mandatory “Take-or-Pay” policy and remains true today due to concerns about the additional surcharge or “premium” that non-member cities pay.
How much is the customer premium?The premium paid by non-member customer wholesalers is five cents per 1,000 gallons. Currently, this costs Rowlett customers $160,000 annually. A consultant hired by the NTMWD in 2020, Amawalk Financial Consultants, LLC, recommended that this premium be changed to 10% of the base rate, which at the time was $3.00 per 1,000 gallons. This would increase Rowlett’s annual premium from $160,000 to around $1.0 million and would increase each time the base rate changed. Rowlett has paid $3.3 million for this premium over the past 21 years.
Has the NTMWD already changed the customer premium policy?No. The NTMWD decided to perform a more comprehensive study that includes, among other things, reviewing the premium as well as a potential buy-in clause for new members. This study is currently underway and is expected to be completed mid-2023.
Will membership have any impact on the “Take-or-Pay” policy?No. All NTMWD wholesalers, both member and non-member, are bound by the current Take-or-Pay policy. However, in 2020 the Member cities settled a legal dispute between the parties that would eventually provide a five-year rolling average method as the new policy. While it has an 8-year lead time before the new policy starts, it is considered inherently fairer than the permanent minimum that exists today, which was found to be “adverse to the public interest” by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
What are the benefits of membership?Membership will give Rowlett the opportunity to participate in the policies and practices that affect Rowlett customers. In addition, members do not have to pay the premium non-member cities pay, which as explained in the "How much is the customer premium" question above, could significantly increase in the future.
Why does NTMWD charge a premium to non-member wholesalers?In the 2020 study performed by the NTMWD’s consultant, Amawalk Financial Consultants, LLC, four factors were listed to potentially justify the premium:
Does the NTMWD accept new members, and will Rowlett qualify?Yes. Rowlett would not be the first “new” member. Richardson joined in 1973, Allen in 1998 and Frisco in 2001.
Rowlett fits the membership profile…
Water supplies are available…
Rowlett has a demonstrated track record in regionalization…
Rowlett practices water conservation…
Why now?Rowlett’s current contract with the NTMWD expires in May 2024. Rowlett has a sense of urgency to complete the membership process before it may be forced to renew its “customer” contract, particularly with some of the policies and practices customer wholesalers must abide by.
What comes next?The “petition” for membership was approved by the Rowlett City Council on December 6, 2022 and has been forwarded to the NTMWD for approval.
Sapphire Bay is a $1 billion mixed-use development located on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard, south of I-30 at Dalrock Road. Planned features include a lagoon amenity and an island entertainment component with an incredible synchronized water and video show; a Hyatt Destination resort and conference center; and a surf and beach club. Other unique hotels, restaurants and shopping will round out this destination experience. A variety of lake-living opportunities will offer apartments, high-rise condos and single-family living with parks and trail systems to enjoy. Sapphire Bay will become a national destination for conferences, vacationing families, residents looking for a unique place to call home, and businesses who want to locate where their employees can live, work, and play. Sapphire Bay Marina is a full-service, deep-water marina separately owned and operated located adjacent to the development with over 1000 boat slips, a state-of-the-art ship store, fuel pumps and boat rentals.
**UPDATE - March 30, 2022**Construction is underway at the southern end of the peninsula for The View multi-family project developed by Zale Properties, with plans to be open for occupancy later this year. K Hovnanian is constructing townhomes along the southwestern shore and with plans to close on some of those home in late spring of 2023. Other approved projects include Bombshells restaurant, Margaritaville resort & additional multi-family to be developed by Floridays. Landscaping plans have been approved that include the installation of a Kite/Surf Park and Community Park as well as a trail along the southern peninsula. Construction for underground electric and fiber are also underway. The City will soon begin construction on a public safety facility to house a fire station and police sub-station within the development.
**UPDATE - February 4, 2022**Sapphire Bay Marina announces Marina District and Baywalk project. The district includes one of the largest marinas in the state, with 10 new dock houses and seven others remodeled and refurbished, a restaurant complex, and on-the-water boat rental and brokerage centers. The highlight of the district will be a collection of casual waterfront food concepts called Baywalk. The developers describe it as a casual experience unlike anything in the metroplex, creating an escape from the ordinary. Baywalk will hug the lakefront, jutting out over the water at various points, and features a variety of seating for all seasons, entertainment areas, string lights and an assortment of plantings. The District will provide family options, appealing to locals and young adults as well as our local boaters/sailors and water sports enthusiasts who want a fun, lake lakefront experience with a one-of-a-kind boardwalk frontage and waterfront views. Read on...
**UPDATE - MARCH 3, 2021**Sapphire Bay announced Hyatt will operate the new Sapphire Bay Resort & Conference Center on behalf of a public-private partnership with the City of Rowlett. Expected to open in fall 2023, the resort will join Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand and showcase more than 500 guestrooms, suites, and villas each with waterfront views overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard and the seven-acre man-made Sapphire Bay Lagoon.
“We are very excited to see Destination Hotels by Hyatt join the Sapphire Bay team,” said Rowlett Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian. “The resort and conference center are integral components of this development. With the Hyatt brand offering their distinctly well-known and upscale experience, we look forward to the Sapphire Bay Resort becoming a sought-after and unique national destination for business conferences and vacationers alike.”
Sapphire Bay Resort will offer luxurious amenities, a full-service spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, six pools and tropical gardens. The property will feature more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space including two grand ballrooms, multiple-sized breakout boardrooms, pre-function areas, event lawns, and a special event island nestled along the eastern shore of the Sapphire Bay Lagoon.Read more here...
Visit SapphireBayTexas.com for more information.**
2019Who is the City’s development partner?Sapphire Bay Land Development, LLC - comprised of President Marc S. English and local real estate developer Kent Donahue, who bring more than 40 years’ combined development experience to the project. Marc English will spearhead all contractual negotiations, manage the construction of all public improvement district (PID) amenities, including an approximately 6.5-acre Crystal Lagoons water feature and island show fountain, and the eventual award of all construction contracts with the many contractors that will competitively bid on this project. Kent Donahue will design, oversee, and collaborate with the many experiential design consultants and architects to envision, facilitate and design the project, anchored by a 500-room resort hotel, spa, conference center, approximately 1.4 million square feet of commercial lease space, and a surf and beach club featuring not only the Crystal Lagoons amenity, but also a one-of-a-kind, competition-quality surfing venue.
What is the purchase price and who is funding it?Funding for the $37,013,000 acquisition price, including the $150,000 in earnest money, has been provided by Sapphire Bay Land Holdings. This land is now owned by Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC and the marina is now owned by Sapphire Bay Marina, LLC.What is included in the purchase?The 117-acre tract of land south of IH-30; the Crystal Lagoon license previously purchased by Bayside; and the existing operating marina including rights to 1,005 boat slips.
What is the project timeline for Sapphire Bay?The first phase of Sapphire Bay is anticipated to be completed by December 31, 2023. That phase includes mass grading of the site to elevate out of the flood restriction easement, the lagoon and island entertainment feature, all the on-site and off-site public infrastructure (streets, water, wastewater, storm sewer, etc.) a portion of the extensive hike and bike trail, community parks and the entertainment and dining promenade surrounding a significant portion of the lagoon.
In addition, the City and our new development partner are working to determine a funding plan for a Hotel Resort and Convention Center by December 31, 2019. Once that funding plan is agreed to by both parties, the Hotel Resort and Convention Center along with the Surf and Beach Club components will be included in the first phase with an anticipated completion by December 31, 2023.
The timing of the first phase opening for Sapphire Bay was in large part determined by the public infrastructure, including the TXDOT IH-30 Improvements, to be constructed between now and December 2023.
The City and Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC will be working on future phases and look forward to announcing a significant number of projects in the near future. At full build out, which is anticipated over a 10-year period, Sapphire Bay will have nearly 1.4 million square feet of combined commercial facilities including retail, office, hospitality, entertainment and restaurants and an estimated 1600 residential units consisting of condominiums, townhomes and apartments.
What is included in the Surf and Beach Club and the lagoon amenity? This one-of-a-kind out-of-ocean surf venue will deliver a world-class, competitive-quality surfing experience to be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. In tandem with the lagoon amenity, the exciting Sapphire Bay water activities will include not only surfing, but kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, waterpark features with a lazy river, and private dining cabanas. With an entertainment island featuring synchronized water and video displays, the lagoon amenity is envisioned to be one of the key attractions and differentiators to establish Sapphire Bay as a world class destination. The Surf and Beach Club will serve as the anchor for the overall public immersive experience. Consulting and management firm VenuBlue, which specializes in innovative beach life style destination attractions, will operate this component of Sapphire Bay.
Will the Crystal Lagoons amenity be open to the public?Yes, the general public will have access to the 6.5-acre lagoon water feature.
Is Sapphire Bay a public-private partnership?Sapphire Bay is a true public-private partnership. In a traditional development, the City’s involvement is limited to zoning the property, providing utility services, and making inspections. In this project, however, the City of Rowlett and Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC have committed to a vision and are obligated to executing that vision and realizing the parameters established in the development agreements. The City facilitated the original purchase of the property from the City of Dallas, annexed the property into the municipal boundary, rezoned the property with Form Based Code, created Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Two (TIRZ#2), approved a public improvement district, drove a change in state law to qualify Rowlett for a ten-year tax rebate from the State of Texas for a new conference center, and championed improvements to IH-30 to support the region’s growth and this project.
How does the funding for the Hotel Resort and Convention Center work?The Hotel Resort and Convention Center is an integral part of Sapphire Bay. Planned is a minimum 450- room full-service destination hotel resort and a minimum 70,000 square foot convention center containing conference, meeting and event space that is of the same resort quality as the planned hotel.
The City and Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC are working to determine the funding plan for the Hotel Resort and Convention Center by December 31, 2019. Once that funding plan is agreed to by both parties, the Hotel Resort and Convention Center, along with the Surf and Beach Club components, will be included in the first phase with an anticipated completion by December 31, 2023.
The funding plan as outlined in the Development Agreement between the parties indicates that the City will issue special revenue bonds for the cost of construction of the Convention Center facility and Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC will make the private investment to fund the Hotel Resort and the Surf and Beach Club. It is anticipated that the Convention Center cost of construction would not exceed $50 million and the Hotel Resort and Surf and Beach Club private investment would be approximately $215 million.
The City’s issuance of special revenue bonds would be supported by the project tax revenues including State Hotel Occupancy Tax, State Sales Tax, State mixed beverage tax, Tax increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) funds, and City Hotel Occupancy Tax. Additional details will be provided once the City and Sapphire Bay Land Holdings I, LLC determine a funding plan by December 31, 2019.
What are the incentives provided by the City? Incentives include the creation of Tax-increment Reinvestment Zone Number Two (TIRZ#2) to help mitigate extraordinary development challenges and remove barriers to development. These include the costs associated with improvements to the future Dalrock Road overpass at IH-30, earthwork to elevate the site out of the flood restriction easement and construction of sea walls on the south side, offsite utility improvements, and parks, trails, public art and monuments. TIRZ#2 provides a contribution rate of 50 percent of all property taxes collected for a period of twenty years (through 2036) with the amount capped at $40.7 million plus interest. During this same twenty-year time period, the City of Rowlett expects to generate nearly $165 million in property taxes, sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes. Upon full build-out (about 10 years), City taxes are expected to be approximately $6.4 million annually, net of the TIRZ#2 contribution, or equivalent to 12 cents on the tax rate.
How was Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Two (TIRZ#2) bifurcated?Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Two (TIRZ#2) was bifurcated, or split between the north and the south parcels as part of the settlement agreement with Bayside Land Partners. As a result, 50 percent of all property taxes collected from the north parcel will be used to reimburse projects attributable to the north parcel and 50 percent of all property taxes collected from the south parcel will be used to reimburse projects attributable to the south parcel. The reimbursements are capped for each parcel.
How will the City be reimbursed for offsite utility costs?The City, as outlined in the Development Agreement between the parties, will contribute an amount not to exceed $13.4 million for off-site public infrastructure improvements for five sanitary sewer projects and one water project. The City is utilizing several sources to fund these projects, including water and sewer impact fee funds and water and sewer revenue bonds. The City will be fully reimbursed for these costs from several sources including 1) state taxes (i.e. hotel occupancy tax, sales tax and mixed beverage tax) from the ten-year grant, 2) the Tax Increment Reinvestment Number Two (TIRZ#2) - South subaccount over the remaining life of TIRZ#2 (through 2036) and, 3) City’s hotel occupancy taxes collected from the project.
Who did the City use to help evaluate the engineering, legal, economics and financial sustainability of this project?Rowlett assembled a great team to help evaluate a myriad of issues including the legal documents and negotiations of the land transaction; the underlying market research and economic assumptions utilized by the new developer for the proposed land uses; and financial considerations of any potential financing for a new convention center. Our team included the following:
How does Sapphire Bay benefit Rowlett citizens? Sapphire Bay is projected to add nearly $1 billion in new taxable value, resulting in nearly $165 million in revenue from property, sales and hotel occupancy taxes over a period of twenty years (through 2036).Sapphire Bay will also offer residents an entertainment mecca without ever leaving their hometown! With amenities such as a lagoon feature housing an entertainment island and incredible synchronized water and video show; a hotel resort and convention center; a world class marina; and the Surf and Beach Club, Sapphire Bay will become a national destination for conferences, vacationing families, residents looking for a unique place to call home, and businesses who want to locate where their employees can live, work, and play - as well as for professional and amateur surfers who come to train at the only wave park of its kind in the world.Sapphire Bay will help grow the City’s economy through diversification of jobs, housing, tourism and business opportunities, making Rowlett a community attractive to people in all stages of their life. Sapphire Bay will optimize Lake Ray Hubbard and Rowlett’s natural assets to create a distinctive identity and offer the quality of life long-desired by Rowlett residents.
Sapphire Bay Land Development News ReleaseAugust, 2019 Mayor’s Spotlight - Sapphire Bay
1. Why does the City provide Economic Incentives in some cases? The City is committed to the promotion of job creation and high-quality development in all parts of the city and to an ongoing improvement in the quality of life for its citizens. In so far as these objectives are served by the enhancement and expansion of the local economy, the City, on a case-by-case gives considerations to providing incentives. Incentives are a tool used by cities, states and federal agencies to promote development, cities typically consider and provide incentives to ensure high quality growth, diversification of their tax base, job creation and/or community amenities. Rowlett has taken a strategic approach that was developed as part of the RR2020 community vision to target incentives as part of catalyst type projects in identified growth areas. That strategic approach has led to over $1.5 billion in private investment to date! The City of Rowlett, like many other municipalities, provide economic development incentives to promote development in their communities. Attracting businesses or development, keeping them, or getting them to expand operations often involves a request for some sort of incentive. While this may appear to be corporate welfare to some, cities are motivated to provide such incentives to ensure higher quality growth, diversify their tax base, bring in jobs, and/or provide amenities that may not currently exist. Every city competes with other cities to attract businesses or development – every city! Sometime, cities even compete with each other for the same deal. The challenge is attracting development that provides a benefit to the community, or else why would a city provide a financial incentive? Each project has to be viable and make economic sense.
2. Why doesn't Rowlett have an Economic Development Corporation? These incentive deals are often very complex. But, not every city has the same tools in their toolbox. For example, some cities have economic development corporations that are funded by a portion of the sales tax. These cities, referred to as 4A/4B cities, utilize a portion of the second of the two cent sales tax rate that cities are allowed under the State of Texas. Rowlett doesn’t have a second cent on the tax rate. Instead, Rowlett is a founding member of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system. When Rowlett voters elected to become such a member in 1983, the City had to give up the ability to levy one of the two cent sales tax cities are allowed under the State of Texas. This means that cities like Rowlett do not have access to cash for economic development and must use other tools that are available. These include property tax rebates, waiver of roadway/water/sewer impact fees, land grants, and public/private partnerships, some of which are available under Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code. The incentives granted by the City typically require performance agreements and “claw back” provisions, should the business or developer not meet the criteria.
3. What kind of projects are awarded incentives? There is an old adage in business that you have to spend money to make money. That is very true in economic development. Without providing economic development incentives, the City would be unable to attract the kind of high quality businesses and development our community wants to see in Rowlett. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Here are two examples, one that did not make sense and one that did.
Please view the Policy Statement on Economic Development Incentives (link below) available on the Economic Development website, www.rowlettonthemove.com.
The City offers a $30,000 senior tax exemption as well as a senior tax freeze, Rowlett is still one of only seven Dallas County cities that offer the tax freeze. The exemption and freeze is a great way to help seniors stay in their Rowlett home, even in times of increasing home valuations.
1. What is the senior tax freeze? The freeze sets a ceiling on the amount of actual taxes the person will ever pay to the City of Rowlett - the frozen amount is determined in the first year they obtain the senior exemption. They will never pay more than that amount, regardless of what happens to their assessed value and regardless of what happens to the tax rate. They may pay less - if the assessed value and/or the tax rate goes down.
2. What is the senior tax exemption? The $30,000 exemption means the year that a person becomes 65, they are given a $30,000 exemption off of their home's assessed value. The exemption amount can be changed, but the tax freeze is forever. In 2004, the City set the senior tax exemption at $67,000, the third highest rate in Dallas County. In addition, the City adopted the freeze (again the freeze can never be changed) and was one of only seven cities in Dallas County to provide the senior tax freeze.
3. How does this affect the City? Property tax exemptions and tax freezes provided in Rowlett are some of the most beneficial in the area. Homestead, veterans, disabled, and over 65 exemptions in FY2023 will total almost $296 million in taxable value. When combined with the over 65 tax freeze of nearly $488 million, the total impact of exemptions and the freeze totals over $783 million. This represents $5.5 million in tax revenue that will be removed from the tax rolls and therefore not available to meet the needs of a growing population. The impact of the exemptions and the freeze is equivalent to 9.0 cents on the tax rate.
1. What are the current Residential Rates?
2. How is my water bill actually calculated?The City of Rowlett has over 20,000 accounts with each account having one or more water meters. Each water meter is electronically read once every 30 days. That reading is uploaded into the billing system, and the account is charged based on the amount of usage.3. Are sewer charges calculated the same as water?Not exactly. Sewage is not metered at the property; therefore, the City uses the amount of water usage measured by the water meter to calculate sewer charges. However, for residential customers, the City has a cap of 10,000 gallons. Therefore, if a customer uses less than 10,000 gallons of water, the City would use the actual amount of water usage to calculate the sewer volume charges. If a customer used a higher amount, they are only charged 10,000 gallons for sewer.4. Why is my water bill so high?We have heard two main questions/statements from numerous customers - that their bill has never been this high and/or that they have never used this much water. The answer is complicated because every customer has different personal habits and some have irrigation systems or swimming pools while others do not.•My bill has never been this high.For many customers this is a true statement. For several years, Rowlett increased the water and sewer charges by an average of 5.5% each year (based on 10,000 gallons of usage) to pass on increases from North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) for water purchases and the City of Garland for sewer treatment. Then, the City was able to LOWER the water rate by 5% for two years in a row. However, the NTMWD increased the rate 13% in FY2023, meaning the average water user in Rowlett (based on 7,500 gallons/mo.) saw an increase of approximately $2.21 per month.•My usage has never been this high.For most customers, this is not accurate. Customers can check their historical usage on both the AMI and Citizen Self Service Portals. Customers can also contact the Utility Billing office to discuss their past usage patterns.5. Does the City of Rowlett use “estimates” in billing?The City reads each customers’ water meter every month to obtain actual usage. The only time “estimates” may be used are in situations when the customers’ water meter is pulled and tested or even rarer times when a resolution to an issue cannot be resolved during the billing period. Otherwise, we do not estimate bills.6. What is the “pavement fee” that appears on my utility bill each month?The pavement fee assessed each month on the utility bill is for providing a funding source for pavement maintenance to alleys and streets each year. Approximately $750k is generated each year for pavement maintenance. The fee was included in the refuse collection fee previously but to improve transparency, the fee was recently broken out so customers can view what amount is assessed each month.7. What Is AMI?Water meter reading system, AMI-Flexnet, is an online tool. giving water customers (YOU!) the ability to access and track water consumption. In fact, the system reads every hour so you can get real-time usage information. Simply create an account at www.rowlett.com/AMI, set up your alerts, and start tracking your daily usage. Armed with this information, customers can spot and repair potential leaks before they result in a higher bill! Realizing that we all have to work together to reduce water use, improve the reliability and sustainability of our water system and minimize costs, the City replaced ALL of the radio antennas for this important upgrade to the water meter reading system. In fact, approximately 18,000 meter radio antennas were installed! These Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) antennas transmit water consumption data directly to the City’s Utility Billing Department, thereby eliminating the need for staff to drive by each home and business to acquire the meter readings.8. Why doesn’t the AMI record usage when I take a shower?The AMI system registers usage in 100 gallon increments. Common household tasks alone are not enough to register while occurring:•Shower (17-32 gal);•Washing dishes by hand (8-27 gal);•Dishwasher (6-16 gal);•Washing load of clothes (25-40 gal)
Read Mayor Blake Margolis' July 2022 Mayor’s Spotlight newsletter (linked below) for more great information about the complex issue of water in our community.
Over 13 years ago, the City Council made a decision to redo Main Street from an asphalt road to concrete. Through a grant and other funding mechanisms, the clock tower, monuments and landscaping were added in an effort to add character to our downtown area. The clock tower has become a popular destination for photos and nothing says “Rowlett” quite like it!
This investment and the Realize Rowlett 2020 plan are key reasons downtown development has progressed. Bankhead Brewing is a great example of the type of new business that located in our downtown simply because of this plan! The Library is located downtown, and more restaurants and retail establishments will also be locating downtown as well, providing different and unique choices for dining and shopping. Many of the same features downtown (i.e. street lights, trees and sidewalks) are carried through into the surrounding neighborhoods as well, creating a synergistic flow to our downtown.
The DFW area is growing at a rapid pace, so it was imperative the City properly planned, attracting the best type of development to bring real value to our downtown. The Village project/concept was a result of many years of planning, much citizen input and finding the right developer to carry out the vision! In fact, the goal was to find a developer willing to match what was downtown and help to create the downtown our citizens have long desired. And the sign brings "identity" and character to the area (like the water tower and clock tower), and adds a flavor of nostalgia to the buildings!
The Village features live/work units. Simply put, the first floor units are designed so small businesses can occupy them and not pay commercial rents, making them affordable. So, if you were an accountant, attorney, therapist, or just a very small office with a few employees you can rent one of these offices essentially giving your business a "Main Street address" and not pay commercial rates. Then add accessibility to the DART rail, which helps bring clients/customers into the downtown area!
How does the Village affect downtown parking? This is just one many planned developments within downtown, the City is taking a strategic and global look at the entire 250+ acre downtown area. Parking management downtown is an ongoing concern that will continue to be addressed as development occurs through the city initiated Downtown Parking Management Plan. Currently, the Village has not only met parking requirements, but provided a surplus of 13 spaces. The Village also provides publicly accessible, on street parking in the spaces along Main Street and north of Dennis St., as well as on a portion of Southridge north of the leasing building.
Village of Rowlett
1. Why does the City have so many liquor stores?In May 2015, residents voted to approve the sale of alcohol in Rowlett. As with any business selecting where to locate, the establishment of liquor stores is market-driven. They locate in Rowlett because their research has determined that the business can be supported.
2. Can the City limit the amount of liquor stores we have in Rowlett?The City may NOT, according to State law, discriminate against or treat these businesses any differently than others wishing to locate here. The City CAN, and has, adopted the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulations regarding distance requirements related to churches, hospitals and schools. The City has also adopted an Ordinance allowing these businesses to request a variance from the distance requirement.
Prior to this adoption, outside of the 1997 Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings, the City did not have a means to address certain property maintenance issues/concerns. As the City continues to age and progress with continued growth and development, we needed a means to address these aging and deteriorating properties. The adoption of the IPMC will now allow all properties (residential- owner occupied and rental, multi family, and commercial) to be held to specified property maintenance standards all across Rowlett.
Subsequently, we have implemented a Rental Housing Standards Program to ensure minimum housing standards for the protection and safety of the occupants of all rental homes, both single family and multifamily.
All single-family and duplex homes are required to be registered annually and multi-family complexes are required to be licensed annually. Single family registration fees are $50 per year and multi-family is $12/unit/year. Forms are available on the Rental Housing web page or at the Community Development Office located at 3901 Main St. Rowlett, TX 75088. Forms may be mailed in or brought in person. There is no "online" option at this time.
To report a complaint concerning a rental residence, please call Environmental Health at 972 412 6125 option #9 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Info...
What is a Housing Finance Corporation? Why do we have a Housing Finance Corporation? What does the Housing Finance Corporation do? Does the City fund the HFC? A Housing Finance Corporation (HFC) is a public, non-profit corporation organized under Chapter 394 of the Texas Local Government Code. HFCs essentially provide a means to finance affordable residential development for local governments. Rowlett City Council voted to approve incorporation of the Rowlett HFC on July 11, 2017. The Rowlett HFC promotes residential ownership and development through the financing of projects and programs that are of long term economic benefit to the city and its residents. HFCs are standalone corporations. Although they perform essential governmental functions, they are not directly funded through the city’s coffers. HFCs may issue debt (through the sale of bonds), but the debt is not directly tied to the city and does not affect the city’s bond capacity or rating.