‘Once in a generation’: Cedar Park touts massive mixed-use project anchored by Nebraska Furniture Mart

A 117-acre mixed-use development that includes a hotel, conference center and hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space is one step closer to Cedar Park, with some city officials calling it a “once-in-a-generation” project.

CPM Development LLC, which is affiliated with Omaha-based Nebraska Furniture Mart, on Dec. 9 was unanimously approved for a master development agreement that marks the first step toward bringing the super-regional retail and entertainment destination to 750 E. New Hope Dr., near U.S. Highway 183A.

The development at minimum would include:

• A 250-room full-service hotel

• A 30,000-square-foot, city-owned convention center

• 250,000 square feet of retail

• And 700,000 square feet of warehouse space

It would all be anchored by a separate 500,000-square-foot Nebraska Furniture Mart, which operates the three largest volume home furnishing stores in the U.S. It is expected to generate $435 million in new city tax revenue in its first 25 years of opening.

Cedar Park Director of Economic Development Ben White said during the meeting the development would mark a number of firsts. Texas will become the first state with two NFMs, as the company has another location in the Dallas area; it will be the first full-service hotel in the city; and it is the first NFM with a convention center.

“The proposed project would secure the hotel and convention center that the city has long sought to help bring more visitors to Cedar Park and provide a much-needed venue for large gatherings within the community,” he said. “This project would generate a high volume of visitors and an unprecedented sales tax per year, year-round.”

The Cedar Park City Council unanimously approved the performance-based development agreement – called Project Northwest New Hope – during the Dec. 9 meeting. The city committed to providing $45 million in performance-based rebates funded by taxes generated by the development, including sales tax, hotel taxes and property taxes. White pointed out the city will retain nearly 10 times more tax revenue than it will rebate over the 25-year term and will keep all of the tax revenue after that.

In return, the company is required to have a $400 million capital investment, create 725 jobs in the first year of opening and make all necessary public infrastructure improvements before the project opens, including major road and intersection improvements. Construction is expected to start in 2024 with the development on track to open in 2025.

“This is historic,” White said. “This project would generate the greatest economic return in Cedar Park’s history.”

Cedar Park, located northwest of Austin had a population of 77,595 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It has garnered economic development wins this year including headquarters relocations and expansions from companies such as shopping network Shop LC Global Inc., baseball and softball scouting company Perfect Game Inc., trucking technology company Hyliion Holdings Corp. and rocket maker Firefly Aerospace Inc. Those companies will add a few thousand jobs to the city.

Jeff Lind, NFM’s chief strategy and development officer, said the company considered several cities before choosing Cedar Park, adding they were drawn to the city based on its quality of life.

“We’ve been looking around the country for a potential new location for an NFM store. Really the first time I was here I had tremendous feelings about the community,” he said. “This was just an automatic home run.”

As part of the agreement, the rebated funds will be used to reimburse the developer for the costs of the infrastructure improvements. If the project fails to meet the performance obligations annually, the developer will receive less in rebates.

The deal also clears the way for the city to apply for additional performance-based tax rebates from the state of Texas. Those obligations are contingent on the state agreeing to refund its share of sales and hotel occupancy taxes generated by the project. If the state participates, it’s expected to receive a net benefit of approximately $1 billion in new tax revenue within the first 25 years of the project’s opening.

Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale called the deal “clever and complicated,” adding that he’s excited about the convention center portion of the project as they are ultimately tired of going to Round Rock or Pflugerville for events.

“You said this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Well, some cities never even have this opportunity,” he said. “This is a very rare opportunity for cities like ours to have.”

Tony Moline, president and CEO of the Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce, pledged full support.

“It always kinda hurts my feelings that we have to celebrate our businesses outside of Cedar Park,” he said. “I have been saying for many years and many different councils that the Chamber will happily support and promote and do whatever we can to help get a convention center here and a full-service hotel like this here. We’re very excited.”

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For more information, www.CedarParkTexasWins.com.