Some Plano taxpayers upset city helping mall renovation with tax dollars

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 11:22 PM

PLANO -- It's not like the newer malls in Collin County, with their chic designer stores. On the other side of town sits Collin Creek Mall, one of the oldest malls in the area.

Plano city council members voted to give the mall owners, Rouse Properties, a $600,000 boost to makeover the mall. Plano calls it a good investment along an important stretch of U.S. 75, except they don't have a plan for the money yet. Collin Creek Mall can use the money for a variety of things, from attracting or retaining tenants, to making improvements or planning purposes.

Some taxpayers are angry, as they believe public money should not be spent to renovate a private commercial development.

"There are a lot of people that need a lot of stuff right now," Blake Fribourg said. "And I don't think revamping a mall on my dollars is the best way to do it."

Other Plano taxpayers say the money could be better spend on other needs in the community.

"It's private," Hassan Bawab said. "So the tax amount should go more toward roads and schools, but nothing commercial."

It's no secret newer shopping centers on Plano's west side, up Central Expressway in Allen, and in Frisco took business away from Collin Creek.

"[The money could be used for] improving the parking lot, improving the signage, improving the stores inside, showing people they care about attracting business," said taxpayer Dean Roper. "And I think by spending more money on that, they'll probably end up doing that."

Some Plano taxpayers, like Kevin Colston, believe the grant is tax dollars well spent.

"I think it's a good thing, because they're probably losing tax dollars from this side of town to Allen," Colston said.

Plano city officials say Collin Creek Mall has a lot going for it -- especially its location, in a high-traffic area at U.S. 75 and the Bush Turnpike. They believe improvements will help it compete with the newer shopping centers.

"We expect a return on this investment," said Plano Deputy City Manager Frank Turner. "Increased sales mean increased sales tax revenue for the city. We feel this is a well-placed investment that will reap rewards for the community."

Plano leaders say the $600,000 stimulus is a significant amount. But it only accounts for less than one percent of the city's yearly budget of $425 million.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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