Towns and cities are much the same way. Each town and city has good and bad features. When combined, they produce a desirable "index." Basically, that means the more desirable, the more valuable. If appraising land or a building, the value resides in each individual property. However, desirability of a city creates value for ALL property owners within the town or city. Whatever the formula is, the most important outcome is DESIRABILITY. If people want to live in a particular town, they will outbid each other to live in the most desirable town. Businesses want to locate there to be close to disposable income. Industry likes the workforce that come from desirable locales. They tend to be intelligent and reliable. When I was a development loan officer, all the above considerations must be made when underwriting a real estate development loan in a new city. The city's desirability, as well as the property must be ascertained.
Important Point. The most perfect administration of duties of managing a city does not mean VISION is present. VISION is adding the total of the parts and leading the city to a more exulted position. So.............what's the highest and best use of Rowlett?
Rowlett is very fortunate. It has an abundance of good features, for a town of its size. First and foremost is 23 miles of shoreline on a 23,000 acre lake. Part of the lake runs right thru the middle of town. DART has built a terminal station for the rail system serving much of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. The Bush Tollway runs right thru town, serving employment centers all across northern Dallas metro area. More recently, the City of Rowlett purchased and annexed the old Robertson Park land acquired from Dallas. In doing so, added the Federal Interstate system to the town with I-30. Development began on the new "Bayside" additions, both north of I-30 with apartments, homes, and now commercial development. Work is underway for new commercial and residential development on land south of I-30. Now a group of citizens are investigating a new trail system that would become a part of a massive trail system that would encompass much of the Trinity River Basin and it's tributaries. Not enough is known about this new trail system to discuss much. Very, very preliminary. However, two of the three phases have been substantially planned. Rowlett could be part of the third. This story continues.
So, looking at the general picture of Rowlett, it looks pretty good. We have water entertainment (to some degree), transportation (excellent), and with the addition of a trail system, a chance to preserve a bucolic and nature loving atmosphere. We have new upscale development in the Bayview/Sapphire Bay area. The total value of Rowlett's assets is more than it's parts.
Folks, we've been dealt a pretty good hand. However, we have some bad cards that we must throw away and draw down. We can't do anything we want with Lake Ray Hubbard. The City of Dallas has a say, and like any large city, stumble a lot. Dallas bought and paid for the lake and are entitled to a say in some things. However, it is felt that Dallas and Rowlett could work toward a mutual benefit, as in an symbiotic relationship. Also, it's my opinion that Rowlett has had very little leadership with vision. I feel that most of the leadership over the past 30-40 years (I have lived in Rowlett 46 years) have "tended to the store" mostly satisfactorily, but woefully short on inspired vision. Yes, Rowlett has grown, but before we jump up and down clapping our hands, remember we are a suburb of one of the major dynamic cities in the nation. Much of Rowlett's growth is a result of Dallas flowing over the lip of the cup rather than inspired leadership of Rowlett. There are times in which I think Rowlett leadership enjoyed a fist fight rather than working out good deals for enhanced lifestyle. Furthermore, if any citizen had an opinion different from Council or P & Z, they were labeled "combative" and frozen out from city discussions. No decanting opinions allowed. I know developers who will never build in Rowlett again. More than one.
So.....we have good cards and bad cards. Now what?
I have been negligent. I have long been a supporter and advocate of the development of what we now call Bayview and nearby Sapphire Bay. It was originally the 247 acres of land known as Robertson Park and owned by City of Dallas. In 2007, 2008, and 2009 I even wrote articles for the Dallas Morning News whereby I recommended much of what eventually happened with Robertson Park. To shorten a very long story, the 247 acres ended up in Rowlett and was annexed and sold to developers.
Since development started on the northern half of Bayview, my confession is that I had never driven back thru the development to see what was going on. I only knew what could be seen from Dalrock Road and the I-30 service road. Yesterday, I drove back into the apartment and housing developments.
I have been writing on this blog site since February, 2014. A type of resume has been posted on this site since the first post. Just check "About Ron" above. It should be clear that I'm qualified to offer professional commentary about real estate development, as opposed to commentary from someone whose only real estate experience was buying a house. I won't say I was "blown away," but I will say I was exceedingly well impressed. This is a great development with apartments, brand new commercial buildings and very attractive homes. There is a great park following the shoreline, including a dog park.
Bayview is a very important asset to Rowlett, as well as the proposed Sapphire Bay development south of I-30. These developments are sufficiently important to Rowlett as to qualify as one of the "good cards" in determining desirability.
Now we are talking about an abundance of trails. Trails contribute to any lifestyle considerably. Not only for health reasons, but to add a love of nature and serenity to everyday living. Trails take the tension off the springs of daily stress, and provides charm. No one doubts for a minute that Central Park is important to New York.
So, Rowlett has a potential water lifestyle, excellent transportation assets, an upscale development at the waterside, and a possible superior trail system to preserve nature. This is great stuff, and all just outside of Dallas, a very dynamic American city.
What are we missing...........?? VISION!!
We need leadership with vision. It is not good enough to just check boxes and accept what the Dallas "sphere of influence" gives us in residual economic throw off. It certainly requires getting the citizens behind the vision. This requires leadership with vision. Of course, you can't satisfy everyone. Complaints are often made about Rowlett becoming too urban. Folks, when you live 20 miles from a city like Dallas, you're going to get urbanized. I moved to Rowlett 46 years ago. Rowlett only had 1527 people, but I was under no illusion we were going to stay country. I knew Dallas would spill over. If I want to duplicate that rural feeling, I have to move another 30 miles east. So, we must take advantage of what we have, or move.
Taken in total, everything above could help Rowlett rise to it's "highest and best" use. However, it takes vision to make all the parts come together. It's adding 1 + 1 and getting 3, instead of 2.
Below are some articles I wrote for the Dallas Morning News. The first one dates from 12/28/07
In order to be a good visionary, one must be able to use any tools available to them to implement and further the vision. Failing to do so usually means ignorance of the tools and how to use them, or more sinister motives. Sinister does not necessarily mean stupidity, stealing, or any other illegal motives. It can be arrogance, elitism, prejudice, or any other less than noble characteristic. So.......what kind of vision does the leadership of Rowlett have? We probably all know some very smart people who have made dumb decisions because of personality traits. Rowlett hasn't been spared this folly. It is sufficient to say it has happened.
We have elections next year. A mayor and three Councilpersons will be selected by the citizens. It will be one of the most important elections this town has ever had. The time for coasting is over. It is time to start to think.
The "highest and best use" of Rowlett is providing the most satisfying suburb of the Dallas metroplex to buy a home, raise and enjoy a family, experience the outdoors, and engage in quality living.