|By Nicholas Sakelaris, Fort Worth
Star-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 24, 2012--SOUTHLAKE -- A new 175-room hotel could take corporate team building to a new level with an indoor racetrack, conference rooms and a ballroom.
The city's second hotel is proposed for 15.5 acres at the northwest corner of Kimball Avenue and Texas 114.
"We felt like Southlake was the perfect spot, being equidistant from DFW Airport and Texas Motor Speedway," said Jeff Medici, principal of C.H.O.C., which is developing the project. "I think the time has come for another hotel in Southlake."
At a neighborhood meeting Monday night, Medici said he envisions Fortune 500 companies using the 90,370-square-foot hotel for staff conferences and other meetings, in addition to the indoor racetrack.
There will also a ballroom for special events that could seat 450 people.
"I know for a fact that there are people who have come here for work, seen what's going on, and have moved their companies here," Medici said.
The project requires a zoning change that is set to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 9. It's scheduled to go to City Council for two readings Aug. 21 and Sept. 4.
On the racetrack, electric cars could go as fast as 42 mph, and the drivers would be dressed in full flame-retardant suits like professional racers. Two tracks could be combined into one.
At least one part of the track would change elevation, rising two stories and including tunnels and bridges, Medici said.
There would also be a pit crew challenge where the teams are timed.
"Trying to get folks to work as a team -- that's our goal," Medici said.
An operator has not been selected for the five-story hotel, but Medici said there is interest.
He also wants to build a restaurant on the westbound frontage road.
It's one of the largest projects to come to Southlake in many years, and the size worries Jo Lucarelli, a Southlake resident who attended the meeting. Additional paving and development would only increase traffic, she said.
"I'd rather have dirt than cement," she said. "I think we have forgotten our integrity. I think we have forgotten what's important."
Others supported the project, saying it would be a showcase for Southlake and bring more business to the city.
Earlier this year, the 200,000-square-foot metal warehouse that had stood on the site for 40 years was demolished.
Just to the north, another developer proposes to build an assisted-living and memory care facility. The 33,000-square-foot facility, called Silver Ridge Assisted Living Southlake, would be on 5 acres on Kirkwood Boulevard just east of Gateway Church. It's being developed by business partners David Keener and Keith Kithsiri, who came up with the concept when their parents had Alzheimer's disease.
They've opened one Silver Ridge facility and have another under construction in Colleyville. The goal is to create a facility with "compassionate care" and a staff-to-resident ratio of 4 to 1, Keener said. Amenities would include a chapel, exercise rooms, walking trails and a gazebo overlooking a pond.
Nicholas Sakelaris 817-431-2231
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