The below was reprinted from a staff report regarding a request for residential zoning at last City Council meeting. Altho the request was tabled until a future meeting, the below verbiage was lifted from the staff report.
"The applicant was informed before they submitted the rezoning application of the intent of the Realize Rowlett 2020 vision for the Area B-1 and the North Shore Master Planning Initiative. Staff explained up front that a conventional zoning request would not be supported by Staff, as that would not further the City’s goals of providing diversified housing types and that the subject property is intended for future commercial development."
Clearly the Zoning Department and the P&Z doesn't want anything to do with single family detached residential in Northshore. Townhouses might receive a very limited okay, if they look like South Philly. They must be urban.........suitable for street ball. There are infinite reports saying that Rowlett is "over built" with this single family detached type of product .There are infinite stand up presentations by staff on Rowlett's website whereby the term "over built" is used. I have set in many meetings in which "over built" was used to propagandize the concept that Rowlett needs office and warehouse development in Northshore rather than the $350K homes that have been rejected in the area. We are led to believe that the development of sfd homes contributes less value to the tax base than office/warehouse development. That is simply not true......at least in Rowlett's case. I have already given an example whereby a rejected residential development contributed double the value to the tax base than a typical suitable commercial development. That doesn't even calculate the increased spending power of the residents occupying the new residential development and the effect it has on any other retail demands.
I wish that you would talk to any real estate agent, or any residential appraiser that you may know. Ask one simple question: "Is Rowlett over built with nice residential homes?" It a very easy question and a very quick answer will come to you.
Any regular reader of this blog knows I think "officialdom's" assertions of "over built" are just hogwash, designed to divert attention from residential development to commercial development. "Officialdom" presumably feels this way because they think commercial development contributes more to tax base per acre in Rowlett than commercial. That may be true in some other community........but not Rowlett's. The evidence is overwhelming. You have seen my evidence, but lets look at other's opinions/facts.
On April 14, I wrote that on that date the Channel 11 evening news reported that 10% of Dallas area houses sold within 72 hours. Channel 11 News further announced that 40% of the homes sold within two weeks. That is an outstanding absorption (sales) rate. That certainly is not an "over built" market.
On April 18, the Dallas Morning News reported that a true housing shortage existed in the Dallas area. The sales rate is down, but that is because there is nothing to sell. The News further reports that Scott Schueler of Keller Williams says, "It's insane. They (houses) are moving super quick." The newspaper article quotes Dr. Ted Jones, economist with Houston based Stewart Title, said, "home prices in the Dallas area are being fueled by the area's strong economy and the demographics." The Dallas Morning News further reports that Dr. Jones said, "In the last 12 months, the D-FW market added more than 86,000 new jobs. In that same period, new building permits totaled 39,620. There is massive growth and demand--all job driven--for the D-FW area." In a chart, Rowlett and Sachse are in Section 8. Section 8 is enjoying a median salesprice of $178,750......not the $136,000 that some of Rowlett "officialdom" is putting out. Of the 40 submarkets listed by the Dallas Morning News, Rowlett/Sachse was the 24th highest in average sales prices.....right in the middle. The average days on the market for each listing was 48 days and the number of months in inventory was 1.3 months. Inventory is considered "in balance" by real estate professionals when 6 months of inventory exists. Rowlett is ridiculously better than that.
Rowlett's "officialdom" has thrown at least two 1st class residential developments, totaling $160 million when developed, right on the trash while not presenting any valid argument that cost effective commercial development will take it's place. I wrote that I did hear about a ghostly credit card processing development. I think that came from someone's dream after heavy coffee drinking.
Once again, will someone explain to me how Rowlett staff is reporting the term "over built" accurately? If not accurately, what is the purpose? Why? Why? Why? Our tax base is suffering massively from ill conceived concepts. Most economic cycles run for seven years. We are setting this one out.
Changing topics just a bit, the Lakeshore Times reported that Rowlett is once again working on the acquisition of Robertson Park. I am please to report that I think that is one of the smartest things I have seen come out of city hall recently. This acquisition is extremely important to Rowlett. If successful, followed by very intelligent development strategies, it will catapult Rowlett from backwater to near the peak of "places to go in the Metroplex." If some yet unknown economic influences further enhance the area, Rowlett could become an outstanding place to go. A proposed industrial park would absolutely pale in comparison. I am worried about the word "intelligent."
I'm concerned about our resident real estate development expertise. The image of "the gang that couldn't shoot straight" comes to mind. In the Lakeshore Times article, it is reported that Rowlett is teaming up with, or "working with" the Donahue Development Corporation. Well, I kinda hang out in some pretty good development circles, and I had never heard of Donahue Development. I called a couple of lenders I know and they hadn't heard of them either. So I resorted to the test of all tests........Google.
Well, that was enlightening. I found a few little equally uninteresting things, but nothing about what the corporation does. We are "working with" a company on a $35-$40 million deal, of which Rowlett may take the financial risk, and they don't have a website with more than their name on it. Who the heck are they? How did they know Rowlett? Did they just walk in off the street? Did someone on staff bring them in? Did the city send out RFQs (Request for Qualifications)? Did a panel select them over others? Who were the others? There are a million questions that come to mind.
I guess I'm getting a little cynical in my old age. Being a real estate guy, can you begin to understand my concerns? The Donahue Development Company may be a great company, but if so, someone should loan them enough money to build a website. Someone else should tell us who the heck they are. Who did they beat out in the competition to "work with" Rowlett?
Will someone besides me stand up and ask some questions? I would prefer someone on council, however that doesn't seem to be much of a probability.
We have a consulting firm that thinks only an office/warehouse industrial park is feasible in north Rowlett. Yet, I haven't seen any proof to substantiate that recommendation. We have a zoning staff that is bloviating with the language and clearly is pumping out propaganda. We have a P&Z that won't approve anything that even suggests residential in a logical location. They are convinced that $350K homes are bad Karma. I suppose they are satisfied to wait 10-15 years for the "right" deal and they will recommend to give away 10-15 years of "freebies" to get the "right" deal. We have a city council that seems to rubber stamp anything that has the consultant's name on it. We are doing business in which about $35 million is involved, and we don't know anything about our partner. We have a $30 million bill for a water line from Lake Texhoma that we have to pay for. Let's see........what could possibly go wrong? We could be mortgaging the tax base of our grand children......maybe even great grand children.
A 5% increase in city tax rate is being discussed. The seniors have been reported to have been stealing from the city for years. Therefore, the Seniors are "on the bubble." The Rowlett real estate should be raising in value at least 10% a year..........and this is coming on the heels of a tax increase. The water rates have already headed north a whole bunch. General Obligation bonds are on the horizon. I can easily see tax money flowing out of your pocket at a rate of approximately 20-25% faster than today. Perhaps more.
Several years ago, I wrote a column for the Dallas Morning News in which I said Rowlett was approaching a critical moment in their history. What we do would influence Rowlett for the next 100 years. We had to do it right. The above is where we are and what we're doing about it. I really don't like the way we're handling this. I am remembering Dante's "Inferno" and he wasn't even working on a tax base.
While sitting on council, I had a couple of occasions to interview people applying for positions on various committees. The one resounding fact that emerged in my head was the incredible talent that was present in the city of Rowlett. It was quite impressive. We desperately need those thinkers to step up now.
I have always tried to present the facts. They are all over this blog site. If those facts aren't enough to help you think this thing thru, then I don't believe I can help you.
All the important people in Rowlett have email addresses on the city's website. Elected officials are there because you elected them. If you're in need of some answers, write and ask the questions.