An estimated $1.7 billion retirement community project has cleared the first of several obstacles before it goes before Denton County voters Nov. 7.

The Denton County Commissioners Court yesterday OK’d a petition presented by a local law firm acting on behalf of Solomon, Baruch & Solomon, New York City-based investment firm that has optioned 2,346 acres from seven property owners whose land surrounds a rural TX town with a 5,400 population base. With the action comes a hearing set for Oct. 10 for the board to vote on establishing a County Development District, which will entail setting up a temporary five-member board to steer the project before the voters, Gordon Hikel, associate attorney for Hayes, Coffey & Berry PC, told The voters must decide whether certain sales and use taxes can be imposed to push the project to fruition via a $200 million to $210 million bond issue. Hikel says feedback from those residents and officials attending Tuesday’s meeting “seems to be positive. … but it depends on the people.”

The developer presently is conducting a feasibility study on the properties involved, which will take 60 to 150 days to complete. Solomon, Baruch & Solomon also has hired a public relations consultant to handle the media which has jumped on the news in recent weeks due to the significant impact the project will have upon the 100-year-old community which currently has one grocery store and a single hotel.

The project is calling for three Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, at least 7,000 single-family homes in the $150,000-$200,000 price range, a 300-400 room five-star hotel and assisted living facilities. The development, if it proceeds, is estimated to pump at least $8 million annually into city coffers which presently operate on a $2 million annual budget.

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