As an increasing number of people and businesses alike move in from both coasts, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is set to continue to be a top economic performer among Texas metros. The constant addition of high-paying jobs in
the past few years has been fueling growth not only in the metro’s core but also in its outskirts. Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, is constantly investing in education and using its business-friendly environment to entice high-profile companies to this emerging suburb, while also retaining its small-town feel.
In charge of facilitating business relocations and expansions, the Allen Economic Development Corp. has supported projects that have added almost $41 billion to the city of Allen and the wider regional economy since its inception, according to a recent Insight Research Corp. study that examined the impact of AEDC projects. And much more is in the pipeline. Commercial Property Executive asked AEDC Executive Director & CEO Dan Bowman to share details about past and future projects, as well as investment hotspots across the city.
Please talk about the most prominent relocations and the largest investments in the city in the past couple of years.
Bowman: The largest investments in Allen’s economic development over the past couple of years have occurred in our nationally recognized Watters Creek District. These include the massive Watters Creek Convention Center and three Class A office buildings in the One Bethany at Watters Creek corporate campus, the most notable of which is the brand new, eight-story One Bethany West.
NetScout Systems, Credit Union of Texas, Boss Fight Entertainment, Micron Technology and Highlands Residential Mortgage are a few of the companies that have moved their corporate offices into the campus, adding to the office employment base in the district that is projected to exceed 5,000 jobs in the coming years. In addition, Mutts Canine Cantina and the Allen Tech Hub office building are moving forward and creating new anchors for the south side of the center.
Four major mixed-use developments along the State Highway 121 corridor recently received zoning approval, with two expected to begin infrastructure work this year. The projects will be at the center of Allen’s future growth.
What makes Allen a good place to live in?
Bowman: People are drawn to Allen for its safe and desirable neighborhoods, nationally rated public school and park system, and modern comforts. We have a strong sense of community and people live well here. Allen is also at the center of job growth; it provides many jobs for residents and maintains the vibrancy of our economy.
What real estate projects currently in the works in Allen stand out?
Bowman: The projects that stand out the most are located on SH 121 and in the Watters Creek District. The 121 corridor has four major projects that have been zoned recently and represent over 500 acres of land in Allen: The Farm, The Avenue, Allen Gateway and Monarch City. The Farm and The Avenue will be the first two projects to kick off construction, both anticipated to turn dirt before summer of 2021.
The Avenue is an 80-acre mixed-use development from Thakkar Developers that includes a food hall, hotel, restaurants and retail, as well as a 125,000-square-foot office building in phase one. The Farm is a 135-acre, mixed-use development from JaRyCo that is designed to be a premier place to live, work and play. The project will have live entertainment venue The Hub, restaurants, retail and a hotel all tied together with over 2.5 miles of hike and bike trails, and a 2.5-acre lake. The project will include over 1.6 million square feet of office, with a 100,000-square-foot office building expected to break ground in phase one.
The Watters Creek District is a mixed-use development and is Allen’s most amenity-rich area, with direct connectivity to over 50 restaurants and shops, and ample office space that is all walkable. The development has seen major growth in office over the past three years. One Bethany at Watters Creek is a 17-acre, multiphase Class A corporate office park that just opened One Bethany West, a 200,000-square-foot Class A building with a fitness center, tenant lounge and golf simulator. This building is already 50 percent leased, but has room for companies looking for immediate access to restaurants, shops and trails.
Also located in the Watters Creek District is Allen Tech Hub, a 105,000-square-foot Class A office project that will accommodate Texas’ growing technology industry. This project is expected to break ground in 2021 and will be an exciting addition to the office market in the Watters Creek District.
JaRyCo has developed several real estate projects in Allen and Dallas, but The Farm will be its largest. What can you share about this project and JaRyCo’s local partners?
Bowman: The developer JaRyCo has partnered with the Johnson Family, who has owned the property across four generations, to transform their treasured farm into a world-class, mixed-use project. The property had been a working farm in support of past generations and both partners want to ensure this special family legacy will support future generations.
Other companies involved, such as The Hub, Dynamic Engineering, Omniplan Architects and other—soon to be announced—developers of various commercial property types will all work together to create a dynamic mixed-use environment where corporations want to locate their offices, with easy walkability for their employees, upscale dining, entertainment and living amenities.
What do The Farm’s 1.6 million square feet of office space mean for the local economy?
Bowman: This is a huge driver for the future economic development of Allen that will bring an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 office employees at full build-out. These corporate relocations will create a project in Allen that is not only fun to visit but also has a significant tax base valued at three to four times that of less dense projects. This higher value will generate taxes well into the future that allow the city of Allen to continue to provide municipal services while also lowering the tax burden on Allen residents. This is a great boon for the city of Allen.
What can you tell us about Allen’s impact on Dallas’ overall economy?
Bowman: Allen is an important economic anchor for the DFW metroplex, punching above its weight when it comes to job growth, retail and mixed-use projects. The Allen Outlet Mall, Village at Allen and Watters Creek emerged over the past 20 years as centers of retail commerce, providing amenities for visitors and residents alike and setting the stage for further investment.
Corporate office employers want to locate near great housing, parks, retail and dining, making Allen an easy location decision for companies like NetScout, Motorola, Credit Union of Texas, Cisco, KONE Corp. and a myriad other companies that were drawn here in the past decade.
The combination of great quality of life and retail amenities created a fertile office environment that is growing Allen into a hub for software firms, financial services and R&D engineering operations. The Allen market now provides goods and services that we export to the regional and national economy. Expect more of that to come.