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City of Balcones Heights takes stake in its biggest, most prominent property — the Wonderland of the Americas Mall

Robert Merrill

The City of Balcones Heights is taking an ownership stake in its biggest and most prominent property, the Wonderland of the Americas Mall, in a deal that should close on Thursday.

The $5.4 million transaction gives the Balcones Heights Economic Development Corporation a 45% ownership stake in the shopping center at I-10 and Loop 410, the area's busiest freeway intersection.

Suzanne de Leon, the mayor of the city of 3,000, said the city wanted to play a bigger role in securing the future of the property.

"If something else had happened to it, we would have no say so in it. So we felt it was really important to the sustainability of our city to have an interest in this," she said.

De Leon added the city will not be involved in day-to-day operations and will leave that up to mall managers, but they will have veto power over the businesses that can move into the mall, which features mostly retail upstairs and offices downstairs.

There are medical offices along with business offices and nationally-known retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less and Burkes Outlet.

The mall also features smaller, unique retailers in its Little Shops at Wonderland and the Bijou Cinema Bistro showcases art and foreign films each week.

The city will also house offices in the mall.

Sales tax from Wonderland Mall contributes significantly to the city's $9 million annual budget. The city will also be paid a share of lease payments collected from mall tenants.

The mayor said the "progressive" city council voted unanimously to take a stake in the mall.

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