A group of developers is planning to construct a 7-acre retail center – Patriot Commons — to serve the needs of The University of Texas at Tyler students, as well as area residents.
The group began looking at the property on University Boulevard, between the Sterling House of Tyler and the East Texas Medical Center’s Behavioral Health campus, about a year ago. Morgan said they noticed there were no restaurants in the area, so they decided to expand their portfolio to include a retail center.
Morgan said they still are working on a master plan for the project that he believes could satisfy some needs in the area.
He said a national franchise that serves coffee, yogurt and pastries is the first tenant planned to go into the center. He expects to break ground on the project by the end of the year, he added.
“We haven’t made a final deal yet” with any of the tenants, he said, declining to name the coffee shop and other businesses that could come in there.
But, he said, he hopes to break ground on the sports bar and grill by the end of the first quarter of 2013, as well as potential bank branches. The entire center could be “substantially built out” by the first quarter of 2014, he added.
Other tenants could be retail and professional oriented. He said they have been approached by a dentist for a possible practice there and plan to have at least two food service operations, in addition to the coffee house.
“We’re very excited about it,” Morgan said. “We think it’s going to be a great addition to that part of the city … We think it will service some real needs to that part of the community.”
He said they received the grading permit from the city and have cleared the land to prepare it for construction. Storm water work is completed, and they are getting ready to work on putting an entranceway on the property.
All of the businesses will be housed in individual buildings, Hanson said.
He said the developers also want to construct an enclosed walkover bridge over University Boulevard, from the UT Tyler campus to Patriot Commons. He said at this point, the $2 million bridge “is a fundraising issue.”
Morgan said that if they are fortunate enough to build the covered walkway, it could serve as a gateway to the university, as well as provide safety for people crossing the street from the campus to the center.
Hanson said he has been in contact with UT Tyler officials about the project.
UT Tyler President Dr. Rod Mabry said he has seen the plans for the walkover bridge, but the developers have been “fairly vague” about the plans for the center.
“We figure that would develop over time,” he said.
Mabry said UT Tyler doesn’t plan to help the developers raise funds for the walkover bridge. “We have so many needs on campus,” he said, adding that the university has needs for music, nursing, biology and recreation facilities, which are in front of any other projects.
He said the university would be willing to donate land on its side to connect the bridge to the center and connect its sidewalks with it.
“I’d be happy if they do it, (build the bridge) not our donors,” Mabry said. “I would be unhappy if they were looking for our donors, too. It needs to be a business proposition.”
Morgan said the timeline of Patriot Commons’ construction is hard to say, but they would like to have it finished within a year of opening the coffee shop.
He said the walkover bridge could take longer.
Jo Dobbs, of Interlink Realty, is handling the listing.