Cities counting on new ‘villages’ for retail success

By October 7, 2015Uncategorized

“Urban villages” aren’t just urban anymore. New mixed-use developments in downtown Arlington and North Richland Hills will combine retail shops and residential living, helping drive business success.

A $70 million development in North Richland Hills, Iron Horse Village, even includes a planned transit station on the TEX Rail commuter line from Fort Worth to DFW Airport. Developers say the village will include 257 apartments in the first phase, all marketable to downtown commuters or frequent travelers.

The first floors of the four-story buildings are designated for small neighborhood shops or restaurants — the kind of “walkable” local retail found in mixed-use centers in Fort Worth and Dallas.

Arlington’s $49 million 101 Center is expected to break ground this month, bringing six floors of shops and apartments to a complex on the site of the old downtown library. It’s the first city-style mixed-use center in Arlington, bringing downtown the kind of night and weekend traffic familiar from Dallas’ Uptown or Fort Worth’s West Seventh. Developers say the project will include 221 apartments, including “live-work” units providing small home offices adjacent to apartments.

Southlake Town Square is in its own building boom, expanding with a six-story office building, 30 larger brownstone homes and 36 $1 million condominiums. Sales tax receipts show steady growth across Tar-rant County, defying logic amid the local job downturn reported Friday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

August data show that the Fort Worth-Arlington area has lost jobs through the first eight months of 2015, primarily because of the collapse of oil prices and the decline in fracking in the Barnett Shale.

While Fort Worth-Arlington has lost 2,300 jobs, the Dallas area has added 48,700 jobs, mostly due to growth in business and professional service companies. Yet many Tarrant County cities are seeing sales tax growth of 5 percent or more, indicating that the energy losses may be offset.

Continued growth at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics would help even more. The company says the F-35 program is already driving 10,000 jobs at 73 North Texas suppliers and supporting 28,000 indirect jobs. Even with recent job losses, the announcement of major new retail-residential developments is a positive sign. There is plenty of reason for developers to remain confident in the future growth and success of Tarrant County and North Texas.

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