Commentary: O.K. Carter: It takes vision, patience and lots of meetings to complete a long-held development vision

Peyco CEO Jim Maibach and Property Manager B.J. Hall outside Kroger Marketplace.


Before anything else happens, it sometimes requires three things to make a land development investment pay off, those being patience, more patience and even more patience.

Or at least that’s been the case for Peyco Southwest Realty and its involvement with the intersection of U.S. 287 and Sublett Road, not coincidentally also the confluence of the Arlington/Kennedale city limits, also a mile from Mansfield – all fast-growing places with a collective half-million population.

Peyco founder Paul Yarbrough (Peyco is an acronym for Paul E. Yarbrough Company) 35 years ago looked at a map of 1,791 meandering miles of U.S. 287 from its origins in Montana near the Canadian border to its end point at Port Arthur and the Gulf of Mexico. The now-deceased investor and industrialist then decided the intersection of Sublett and 287 would be a future commercial hot spot.

Sooner. Or later. As it turned out, mostly later.

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Yarbrough bought 40 acres at the intersection. Sort of a land bank investment thing, though it’s doubtful he had a 35-year plan in mind.

“And I’ve been working on it ever since,” says current Peyco CEO Jim Maibach with a shrug. “And it’s not over yet.”

How’s it going? Mostly swell. Particularly lately.

Last year, a new Kroger Marketplace opened on a chunk of Peyco’s original 40 acres, this particular section being in Arlington but on the Kennedale-Arlington city limit intersection. It’s not your usual Kroger.

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The word “big” comes to mind as it sprawls across almost 124,000 square feet and contains a plethora of things that are not conventional groceries.

A big kitchen section. A tablet and smartphone shop. Deals on clothing. Lots of home-grown products from Texas ranches and farms. Sushi/taqueria/bakery/fried chicken and the like. It’s an interesting and aromatic superstore walkabout experience.

There’s the usual Starbucks in the complex development, a smattering of fast food establishments and the not-so-usual (and highly recommended) Andy’s Frozen Custard. Plus, there’s a Phase II under construction at the site right now that soon will contain an oversize, glitzy L.A. Fitness, along with several other retailers to be named soon.

“Funny thing, we sold part of this location to Kroger 30 years ago,” Maibach recalls. “They held on to it for 10 years, changed their mind about the project and Peyco bought it back. Now they’ve (Kroger) bought it again. Things go around and come around.”

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Though Peyco founder Yarbrough was a developer and industrialist – Peyco business parks are a staple around Arlington and Kennedale – the revamped company under Maibach is more of a development facilitator and property manager, both with its own properties and the land or properties of others.

The company sometimes buys land for eventual sale to a developer, but more often finds a buyer/developer for land belonging to others, the difference being that it’s not a one-stop shop. Peyco will then work the project through the maze of negotiations involved with the multi-jurisdictional nuances of zoning, platting, infrastructure requirements, ad infinitum.

The Kroger Marketplace project, for instance, required a $5 million investment in U.S. 287 offramp tweaks and Sublett Road improvements, some of which are still taking place. Plus, improvements to other nearby streets.

And there were drainage issues requiring runoff enhancements. And more tweaks to minimize traffic issues for nearby residents. Collectively, that’s a lot of nights at P&Z meetings and city council public hearings in Kennedale or Arlington.

Expertise in such a specific geographic pays off because as other adjacent landowners decide to sell, they’ll often sign up with Peyco to help them through the process.

“Right now, it looks like Peyco will be involved with perhaps a hundred acres of development around Sublett-287,” Maibach said. “Maybe more down the road.”


On the other side of Sublett Road from Kroger, there’s a sprawling almost-completed All Storage that would have been nothing but storage, which didn’t strike the Arlington City Council’s fancy. So, much of the All Storage first floor will be retail, the second-floor offices. Behind the building there’s a butterfly garden – an accommodation to what seemed a whimsical idea by a councilmember. Peyco is flexible.

Next to that and across into Kennedale 50 yards away, there will soon be a new apartment complex that turned out to be one of the first applications of Kennedale’s updated apartment codes. That project combined the sales aspirations multiple family members and their 13 acres, plus another small piece. And a lot more time at Kennedale City Hall.

With both Arlington and Kennedale growing in the 287/Sublett direction, it’ll be an on-going process – Peyco is involved with additional 3.6, 4 and 8 acre tracts on 287 frontage. And another 9 acres behind Kroger Marketplace. All projects within the Peyco umbrella – and of course they’re not the only players in the area.

So clearly Paul Yarbrough, Jim Maibach and Peyco’s 35-year project isn’t wrapped up yet.

Nor does the 60-something Maibach figure he’ll be at the helm for the final touches on the intersection area. Maybe most of it, though.

“It’s been entertaining and interesting,” Maibach says with a laugh. “But I figure the next CEO of Peyco will end up finishing the job.”

O.K. Carter is a former editor and publisher of the Arlington Citizen-Journal and was also Arlington publisher and columnist for the Star-Telegram and founding editor of Arlington Today Magazine. He’s the author of the definitive book on Arlington’s colorful history, Caddos, Cotton and Cowboys: Essays on Arlington.