For more than 20 years, the development of more than 3,100 acres of lakeside property has been a long-term goal for the city of Denison. Now, that dream appears to be taking major steps toward becoming a reality and the next major development coming to Denison.
The Denison City Council unanimously approved a new development agreement with Waterfall Development Partners for Preston Harbor, also known as the Schuler Development. Plans for the site, located along Lake Texoma, call for a mixture of uses including a Marina, resort and nearly 7,500 new homes.
“Sometimes, things appear to happen very, very quickly,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said. “That probably on the outside is what people will think about the presentation we will have tonight, but in fact, what is taking place has been 20 years in the making.”
For the city of Denison, the development of Preston Harbor has been a late-game goal and a key to the city’s future growth. While other developments have come over the years, Preston Harbor continued to sit on the horizon, years if not decades out from development.
The proposed development was envisioned and led by George Schuler, who accumulated the property along the lake over time for the project. During that time, utilities, including a sewer line and 10-inch water line were built into the development.
The city signed a development agreement with Schuler in 2013 for the project. However, the new development agreement completely replaces the previous agreement.
While work slowly continued on the project over the years, the property was listed for sale in 2022, City Manager Bobby Atteberry said, noting that Schuler’s health had begun to decline. Schuler died in April after being hospitalized for about six months.
Like Schuler, David Craig started work on what would be his legacy project, McKinney’s Craig Ranch, around the year 2000. However, he has been friends for more than four decades. Now, he will be the person who ultimately finishes Schuler’s own legacy.
Atteberry said Schuler’s plans centered heavily on proposed resorts and other recreational and hospitality uses. While these uses, the market has changed over the years and new plans incorporate more homes and residences.
“George was a dear, dear friend for 40 years and a man of integrity,” he said. “He had a vision, and in my mind, this is his legacy.”
Interim City Manager Bobby Atteberry said that Schuler’s vision, and by proxy the city’s vision at the time focused heavily on proposed resorts and other amenities and features focused on the lake. While these features are included in the updated plan, residential uses are a larger component.
Atteberry said growth in the region, alongside high-tech developments in Sherman have created a larger demand for residential uses. The COVID-19 pandemic also likely impacted the market as it proved many people could work from home.
“That was the vision that George Schuler had,” Atteberry said. “With these new owners, they have a different vision and they feel like with all the growth that’s coming this way, and what’s happening in Sherman with the technology, we’re going to need more rooftops up here.”
Representatives for the developer said the development would be broken into three primary areas. The first area would focus on a proposed resort hotel and cottages with low to medium density. The resort itself would feature about 200 rooms at full buildout.
The second area would include a marina with interior lake living and mixed use retail and residential options. The development itself would feature more than nine miles of lake frontage and the marina could feature between 400 and 600 slips for watercraft.
The final area would center on an active adult community with commercial neighborhood support.
For Denison, the development could significantly increase the number of households and rooftops, Atteberry said, noting that developers forecast about 7,500 new residences. This includes about 5,000 new single-family homes and 2,500 townhouse, multi-family and other types of residential uses.
Despite the step forward for the project, Atteberry said there is still significant work that needs to be done before the project can see fruition. Notably, the area still needs significant infrastructure upgrades in order to support the development.
By Michael Hutchins, Herald Democrat, May 18, 2023