A proposed rail and industrial park on Gainesville’s northside got the go-ahead this week from the Cooke County Commissioners Court, a move that could ultimately mean millions more in property tax collections for the county, the city of Gainesville and related taxing districts.

Work is expected to begin this year on the Camp Howze Industrial Rail Park. The park runs along FM 1202 just east of Interstate 35 and next to the Liberty Crossing outlet mall — which is about to be taken over by farm manufacturer Tractor Bob’s — will feature several buildings to host warehousing and manufacturing, with some spaces exceeding 700,000 square feet.

The 285-acre site will connect to the nearby BNSF line that runs through downtown Gainesville. Rail stock will move on and off that line through a system of interior rail lines on the site that will allow for off-loading and on-loading trucks coming from Interstate 35.

The BNSF line frequently backs up traffic on California Street through downtown Gainesville, but developer Strategic Rail Industrial told the Register last year that they don’t expect much of an impact on rail traffic through town.

William Myers, who runs the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation, helped Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan and other local officials finalize the Camp Howze deal.

“This private developer is saying they want to create $600 million worth of taxable value in Gainesville and Cooke County by not borrowing any money from the community. In fact, they’re buying 142 acres (Camp Howze) from the EDC and paying us what we invested in it to make it worth developing,” Myers told the commissioners court Monday.


Camp Howze, currently undeveloped, has an assessed value of $174,000. Sullivan told county officials that the assessed value could skyrocket to over $620 million over two decades as the park is built out.

The county, city, North Central Texas College and hospital taxing districts have agreed to participate in a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) to promote development of the site. In essence, they will let half of the increased tax collections for the rail park go to internal improvements on the site for the next 25 years. Developments may be reimbursed from those funds for improving roads, sewers, water lines and the like.

The taxing districts will each realize big bumps in property tax collections, however.

Here is the projected breakdown:

• City of Gainesville — $28.7 million to the TIRZ; $28.7 million to the city coffers;

• Cooke County — $9.7 million to the TIRZ; $9.7 million to the county;

• North Central Texas College — $3.9 million to the TIRZ; $3.9 million to the college;

• Gainesville Hospital District — $5 million to the TIRZ; $5 million to the hospital.

When the TIRZ sunsets in 25 years, all of those tax revenues will go to the city, county, college and hospital.

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