If you've read much in this blog site, you've seen me make some reference to "re-branding" of Rowlett. Essentially, this is nothing more than image building. It is presenting Rowlett in a manner that influences to the positive what others perceive about Rowlett. If others perceive Rowlett as a very good place, some very good things begin to happen. It takes a little work, but if the proper ingredients are present, the work load is quite acceptable.
I want to give a little background on a "re-branding" effort and report on some meetings I have attended recently.
I have a friend by the name of Ron Surley. Ron is consummate sailor. He lives and breathes the sailing world. For example, he has spent portions of the past 10 years restoring a magnificent 37 foot sailboat. His boat is a no kidding "blue water boat"--an ocean going sailboat. He is nearly complete. His sails are now on order. He will be launching soon. I can't wait to see it on the water. The boat is a gorgeous traditional boat that is strong as a tank.
My sailboat is berthed nearby Ron's boat so we have known each other for years. About a month ago, Ron approached me and asked if I thought I could get the City of Rowlett to sponsor a charity regatta. The proceeds of the regatta would be donated to a designated charity.
I liked the idea. I particularly liked the idea because it dove-tailed nicely into a number of recent events that involved Rowlett. However, there are a lot of moving parts in an effort such as this. A couple of old sailors that both need a new pair of top-siders can not make that type of regatta happen by themselves. It takes participation of others.
The selection of a charity was really pretty easy, with Rowlett still uncovering from a recent tornado. Tornado victims were where the money was going to go. Next we needed to talk to the city. Ron and I scheduled an appointment with Todd Gottel, mayor, and Brian Funderbunk, city manager. We had a great meeting and they embraced the basic concept. They established Jim Proce, assistant city manager, and Angela Smith (recently announced as our new Parks Department leader) as our "go to" people for liaison with the city.
We then had a meeting with Kent Donahue, developer of the new Bayside development, which was the old Robertson Park land. Kent liked the idea and he became solidly supportive. He offered to help in any way he could. We needed to borrow some observation land from Kent.
We then had a meeting with Jim Rosenberg, current owner of the Bayview Marina. We needed slips to tie up visiting sailboats. Jim offered us his vacant slips, extra land if needed, and a mailing list for his sailors. This was a great offer to help. He is solidly behind us.
Yesterday (Wednesday, April 20) we met with Diane Lemmons and some of her captains from the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce. They are very important players in this endeavor. They have the organizational skills and disciplines to produce a bazaar type atmosphere in which Rowlett merchants can display their goods and services. It would be a great opportunity for the consumers in the area to meet the merchants. These merchants would also donate goods and services to a silent auction, the proceeds of which would go to the charity. The Chamber and the sailors are the two main ingredients of this event. It could be an absolute joy to put this together and establish an annual event. However, we still have some tweaking of the dials to do. But, we're off to a great start.
Now, look at what's coming together. We have always had the lake, but we never did anything with it. A couple of years ago we got the DART station and the new Bush Tollway. The North Texas economy took a definite swing to the positive, probably great. Real estate values started up. Then, Dallas de-annexed Robertson park, Donahue Development purchased 257 acres of Robertson Park, and the City of Rowlett annexed the park land. This put Rowlett right on Interstate 30, in the middle of a 23,000 acre lake, with DART and Bush Tollway nearby, in a bustling economy.
The above was enough to gloat about, but then a tornado put Rowlett right in the middle of the national spotlight. Furthermore, Donahue announced the start of construction of a premier development in the old Robertson Park site that also made national news.
Everything has come together nicely to announce a "remodeled" Rowlett, with upscale housing and commercial development. Rowlett can now tout the 20 miles of shoreline on Lake Ray Hubbard, and take steps to develop the shoreline with upscale product. Rowlett can brag about short drive times to the new 30,000 jobs being created in Plano, and DART that can take you to a major league ball game, numerous employment centers, or an international airport.
I couldn't have written a better script.
Now, the final piece to fit into place is you, the Rowlett citizens. You have got to embrace the charity regatta, and join Donahue to brag about the new Bayside developments. You've got to "talk up" the fact that Rowlett is a water community, with 20 miles of shoreline and "On the Water and On the Move" really means something.
Together, we can make Rowlett the hottest real estate market in DFW. What's that mean to you? What do you think the value of your house will do if Rowlett is re-invented as set out above? What do you think your tax rate will do if 100's of millions of dollars is added to the tax base?
Folks, it's called quality of life. It pays money. I want some.