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Saturday, April 10, 2021

On Track: Former Willow Park landmark makes way for new development

Shops at Willow Park

120 Crown Pointe Blvd.

Willow Park 76087


There are some new developments on the site of one of Willow Park’s most iconic landmarks.

Trinity Meadows horserace track loomed large just off westbound Interstate 20 from the time it opened in 1991 as one of the first tracks to offer pari-mutuel wagering after Texas voters legalized this form of gambling in 1987.

Trinity Meadows replaced a former track in the area that had operated from the 1960s, but it was a short-lived venture.

It closed in 1996 just as the Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie was set to open and bleed off its profits.

Vacant for more than 20 years, a constant reminder of what once was, the track was demolished last fall by its new owner, Wilks Development, which is planning a 230-acre mixed-use development that incorporates the newly-opened Shops at Willow Park along I-20 near the Texas Health Resources facility.

The $163 million planned development will include 110 townhomes, 208 multi-family apartments and 97 single-family homes.

Additional retail space, office space, a hotel, an amphitheater and a community events center are also part of the plans.

The development will sit alongside the Trinity River Elm Fork and will take advantage of its natural beauty with the addition of about three miles of hike-and-bike trails and parks for families to enjoy.

“As a family-run business, we know the importance of building a safe and fun community,” said Kyle Wilks, president of Cisco-based Wilks Development.

The development will offer the conveniences of city living with the benefit of “small-town values,” he said.

But equally important, Willow Park North will serve as a continuing reminder of its past as a horserace track that was an important part of the Willow Park community for many years, Wilks said.

The firm has salvaged beams from the racetrack’s grandstand and racing poles from the track along with other materials to be incorporated into the development.

“The track was an eyesore sitting there, but it was very important to the people of Willow Park,” Wilks said. “Everywhere we go and everyone we meet has a story about the racetrack or worked there or knows someone who did.

“We have the opportunity to come here and create something really special,” he said. “I believe it will give the area a recognized destination and a place the residents of Parker County can embrace as their own.”

Wilks said the firm chose the site because of the rapid growth of Willow Park and East Parker County. The development will be within the Aledo ISD, which has become a top destination for families with school age children.

Wilks Development announced details of its development as the first tenants were opening their doors in The Shops of Willow Park, a 60,000-square-foot retail center that includes unique, local retailers such as home décor shop Byrd Mill, restaurant Drakes Yoke Wood and Wine, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, 2 Ten Salon Studios and Taylor Your Tan.

With projections from the North Central Texas Council of Governments that East Parker County will triple in size by 2030, it is important to have quality development that enhance quality of life, said Lisa Flowers, president and CEO of East Parker County Chamber of Commerce.

“Any community can grow but in East Parker County, we want smart growth,” she said.

The newly-formed Parker County Economic Development Council also supports developments like Willow Park North to help attract larger employers to Parker County.

“Parker County amenities like this development are an easy sell when companies are deciding where to relocate their business,” said Tim Von Kennel, executive director of the nonprofit council. “This development sets a positive high-quality standard for future economic development growth opportunities.”

Wilks Development is part of Cisco-based Wilks Brothers LLC, a multifaceted family enterprise started by brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who began the oil field services firm Frac Tech.

The sale of the hydraulic fracking company made billionaires of the brothers, sons of a bricklayer turned stone mason.

Frac Tech is now Fort Worth-based FTS International.

ProFrac Services is a new family enterprise with operations similar to Frac Tech. 

Construction of the new development is expected to begin this spring and will be substantially completed within four years, he said.

Wilks Development obtained about $8 million in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) incentive funding from the town of Willow Park to install water, sewer and other infrastructure in the development. The firm’s investment in public improvements will be repaid through tax revenues generated from the development.

Wilks Development has projects underway throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


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