On the front page of the Metro Section was an article about Rockwall County and the impending encroachment of urban development. That encroachment is the result of the economic growth of the D/FW area.
On the front page of the Business Section was an article about the continuing increase of home prices. Home prices are escalating faster than it has for decades.
The two articles above could have been written in the same story. That growth rate, the accompanying increase in real estate activity and prosperity, and the higher density of housing, comprises much of what I've been writing about over the past few months. Urban encroachment is a part of that whole equation and discussion.
This can be a good news/bad news situation. We need to strive to make it all good news. The bad news is that we could have become so popular that we get gobbled up by urbanization and lose all of any character, charm, uniqueness, and identity we ever had. We just get absorbed. I don't like being absorbed. It seems UN-American.
The good news is that we have become so popular that people want to live here and they will bid up the prices of houses to get to a place they want to live. Of course, we existing homeowners are just adding value to our balance sheets because of this annual income. Now, before we get too cocky, please remember all towns in the DFW area are enjoying this same new found wealth.
So, what have we really got? We have uniqueness. With a little tweaking, we can be truly unique with a charm that appeals to a much broader marketplace than that marketplace enjoyed by other towns in the metroplex. That could mean our popularity could be such that we would enjoy a longer and more profitable growth period. It's simple. We would be more desirable.
Here's what we have. First, we have geographic boundaries. We are bounded on three sides by water. On the west side of town, we also have a large low lying area that is creek and flood plain. This is an identifying feature. There won't be any buildings on it, unless they dike around the structure. These items create identity. We are ourselves. There is only one way to approach Rowlett without crossing some geographic feature, and that is from the north. You can enter Rowlett from the north on the toll road without knowing you just entered a water based town until you cross the lake on the bridge to I-30. Also, one can enter Rowlett from Wylie, assuming one has a pathfinders license. I am sure many souls have been lost trying to get to Rowlett from Wylie.
Secondly, another special feature Rowlett has is the DART terminal station. One can take a train to some of the very best employment centers around Dallas, plus soon to be airports and athletic events. With the development of apartments and additional business development of downtown restaurants and shops, and the local availability of a 23,000 acre lake, this should be a young person's paradise. And when that young person gets off work and arrives at the DART station and is walking home to his/her new apartment in downtown, he/she can stop off at the craft beer place downtown and meet their wife/husband/friends for a recap of the day.
Another feature we have is Lake Ray Hubbard........but we need to develop activities of the lake. We have shallow water. We are not going to have deep draft boats. However, we can have a lot of shallow draft boats. There is some charm with them. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, bass boats........all are suitable. I have written that I would buy Spanish Moss by the carload and spread it around all our trees surrounding the lake........particularly along the creeks and bayous. What charm that is!! Have you ever been in a canoe paddling along one of our creeks. What a hoot!!
We can't forget the seniors. We are starting on some developments for seniors, but we could use more. We are not only satisfying our own senior population, we could also be soliciting seniors from all over the country that may want what we have. I submit that many seniors in northern climes would love Rowlett if there were proper places to live. You need not look further than Granbury to see how it works. They are pulling in retirees from all over the country. The city loves them and they love the city.
Of course, we have GWBT. It is a 20-30 uninterrupted drive to the new major employment centers in Plano. That is a commuter's dream in any large city like Dallas. There should be 20,000 new jobs created in Plano over the next few months.
Finally, we have to continue to do what we know how to do. We know how to develop subdivisions that people like to live in. We are really good at providing nice homes with fences and yards. We allow our families to have jungle gyms and horseshoe pits, if they want them. Our citizen's homes are theirs, not the government's. They live on their land. Contrary to some of the propaganda that has emitted from City Hall, starting in 2009, Archie Bunker homes, under the auspices of Form Base Codes, is not the sole answer to Rowlett's future. There is room for some high density housing.......but not the entire town. Most of our folks want a yard for the kids to play in, not some park down the street. Our only Form Base Code, high density residential subdivision remains uncompleted, unpromoted, and unproven in the market place. It is well past any normal schedule for such developments. I have experience with several hundred such subdivisions. I think we've been flim-flamed. Hopefully, it passes the market test.
All the above creates a unique situation for Rowlett. We actually have more physical features working for us than our more well known neighbor across the lake, Rockwall. They don't have the tollway (although they use the one thru Rowlett), and they don't have a DART station (although they use the one in Rowlett). Their commute time to Plano employment centers are approximately 10 minutes longer than Rowlett commute times.
When taken in total, Rowlett is uniquely positioned to declare itself an island upon itself. When one crosses over the bridge from I-30 to Geo. Bush Tollway, the view is highly suggestive of crossing a bridge over the intercoastal waterway down on the Texas coast. I have driven over to off shore islands many times at Galveston, at Port Aransas ferry, Port Isabel, and Corpus Christi. That view is a spectacular introduction to Rowlett.
We need to take advantage of these assets. Our leadership has done some good things. However, it could have been better. I get all exercised because the mistakes I see just drives me bananas.
The addition of the 257 acre Bayview development at I-30 and Dalrock creates a whole new canvass on which to paint. I am excited about this new addition to Rowlett's assets.
We have the opportunity to create an unbelievable town in which to live.
My next post will be a continuation of this discussion.