Colleyville at a crossroads

A. Lee Graham

Colleyville’s development frenzy shows no slowdown as the city plans for even more growth. “Things have definitely been busy,” said Marty Wieder, economic development director for the Northeast Tarrant County city. After landing Whole Foods Market and Matt’s Rancho Martinez, the city just north of Bedford and the Airport Freeway is wasting no time in planning for its next potential retail and residential tenants. Aiming to chart its best development direction, the city is preparing to update its comprehensive plan. The process involves surveying residents in town hall and neighborhood meetings as well as in focus groups. The idea is to identify Colleyville’s collective priorities for the next 20 years.

The city paid $249,850 in consultant fees to Halff Associates Inc., lead consultant on the plan, and to several assistant consultants, including Catalyst Commercial, a strategic economic firm, and Livable Plans and Codes, which provides tools for long-range planning. Funding came from the city’s fiscal 2012 and 2014 capital projects coffers. By hiring outside consultants and heeding input from residents, planners hope to chart a course for a city that, while not expected to reach buildout – the point when it fills its available single-family residential property – until 2025, still must grapple with finite land and seemingly infinite retail and residential demand. “It’s starting to attract a lot of people,” said Angela Gilchrist, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colleyville. Public schools, upscale neighborhoods, access to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and a small-town feel have attracted new homebuyers for years, Gilchrist said, but the momentum is rising. “Lots of seniors are moving out, and young families are moving in,” Gilchrist said. “Or younger families are moving in to take care of [older family members] and are renovating their homes.” While existing homes undergo renovation and find new occupants, new inventory is on the way after Terra Manna LLC snapped up 97 acres at Glade Road and Heritage Avenue for a $160 million single-family development. Marketed as Creekside at Colleyville, the development will feature houses by Standard Pacific Homes and MainVue Homes. Acquiring the property proved challenging as Terra Manna negotiated with the Harrington family, which owned the land and helped pioneer the city in the late 1800s.

“There was also a lot of competition that made things difficult, but also making sure all family members agreed on how the project should proceed was challenging,” said Bret Pedigo, executive vice president of Southlake-based Terra Manna and owner of sister company Manna Land. Phase one of Creekside will feature lots from Standard Pacific Homes, currently under construction and expected to be available in June 2014. Phase two is expected to be complete later this year and help satisfy what Pedigo considers strong demand for such housing. By acquiring the property, Terra Manna is developing what city officials call Colleyville’s last major piece of residential land. “We’ll not build out residential for a while,” Wieder said. “In coming years, we may grow closer to that, but not now.” But why Colleyville? After all, several Northeast Tarrant communities also boast upscale neighborhoods, highly regarded public schools and airport proximity. “There are a lot of professionals and executives that come in and out of the airport that just like the community, its government, its tax rate,” Pedigo said. At 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, Colleyville’s property tax rate compares favorably to Southlake’s 46 cents, and Keller’s 44 cents.

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Unlike Southlake and Grapevine, another Northeast Tarrant County city competing for the same businesses, Colleyville has no freeway frontage aside from a small portion between Hughes and Glade roads along Texas 121. “We know, to an extent, we have to try harder,” said Wieder, describing the city as “more internal” or distanced from major freeway traffic. “Part of our approach, really, has been creating a sense of place,” said Wieder, who credits that approach with bringing Whole Foods Market to town. When the upscale grocer chose Colleyville for its second Tarrant County location – its first is in north Arlington – it chose a former Albertson’s location in the Village Park shopping center at Texas 26 and Glade Road. The 190,664-square-foot center has been re-branded Colleyville Downs, setting the stage for Whole Foods’ summer opening. Hot on its heels are Matt’s Rancho Martinez restaurant, set to open in the same shopping center in April, as well as Einstein Brothers Bagels and Zoe’s Kitchen on their way. While courting new retail and residential tenants, the city continues to pursue employers that it considers a good fit. “We’re really looking at medical, financial and real estate, and aviation and aerospace,” said Wieder. Examples include Emerus Baylor Emergency Medical Center, which is under construction at Church Street and Colleyville Boulevard; Standard Insurance Agency Corp.’s headquarters at 8190 Precinct Line Road; and Jack Prewitt & Associates Inc. Village at Colleyville complex as the corporate headquarters for the corporate aviation sales company. “So we’re seeking to grow with the right kind of employment. All of these are picking up steam,” Wieder said.