So.......let's get started with "Rowlett."
I moved to Rowlett 40 years ago this weekend. It had a population of 1527 people, or so the sign said. It was not much more than a dusty little burg, kinda lost amongst other suburbs of Dallas. I worked in downtown Dallas at the Bryan Tower building, on the 36th floor. I could almost see Rowlett from there........except there were no distinguishing features about Rowlett that I could make out from my window. I worked with some people that had been born and raised in the Dallas area. They all knew there was a town nearby by the name of Rowlett, but no one had a clue about how to find it. When they learned it was out by Lake Ray Hubbard, they blew off Rowlett as being part of East Texas.
There was only one place in town to eat. That was the old Dairy Queen, which is now an empty forlorn derelict building on the corner of GWBT and Lakeview Parkway, neither of which existed when I arrived. The DQ had no paved parking. It was gravel. There were no stoplights in Rowlett. The nearest grocery shopping was in Rockwall. The nearest restaurant in which one could get a glass of wine at dinner was the Spanish Galleon over near The Village apartments and Greenville Avenue on Northwest Highway. The diner, The Pig Stand, was in front.
At the time, to identify Rowlett as a "town" was a stretch, let alone describe Rowlett as a "hometown." But, that's where I chose to live. I came from a small town, moving into a large town environment, and I felt safer in Rowlett. Our kids were small, and we had the American Mandate to provide our kids more than we had. But, Rowlett was a good start in providing for our kids. We had a neighborhood pool....a very nice one. While on the diving board, we could wave at fishermen on Lake Ray Hubbard. We brought over our horse from Tyler. She was stabled just a short distance away. The kids could walk to her. My daughter rode like the wind. She was one and the same when riding Goldie, our horse. Even bareback, they were glued together. My brother once visited from Loveland, Colorado. She took him for a "spirited" ride, riding double. I had to laugh. My brother looked like Batman's cape, holding on behind her. My son had his own sailboat at age 14. He became a great sailor.
We had a small creek and vines along the back of our lot. Of course, we had Lake Ray Hubbard. There were regular events whereby balloonists flew from Plano to Rockwall. Every season, crop dusters would spay cotton that was all around us.
All the above, and more, created a good life for my family. But........Rowlett still wasn't my hometown. But, the stage was set.
When I moved here, there were 1527 people and now it is estimated that nearly 58,000 people live in Rowlett. I think its reasonable to assume that all the increase in population was not born here. Therefore, we all moved here for some reason. Why? Availability of houses? Prices of houses? The lake? Close to work? Schools? Small town environment?
My guess is that it is some combination of all the above reasons. Those reasons were all certainly a part of my selection process. Let me share a real estate theorem with you. Even tho a real estate appraiser is a highly trained technician, little ole' Fred and Ethyl become very good appraisers when looking for their home. They see things that even the appraiser will miss. They see value the appraiser misses. It is not because the appraiser is missing input. It is because Fred and Ethyl are applying standards that only they know. The selection process then becomes very personal. The appraiser nor the real estate agent have a clue what's going on in the buyer's mind.
The point of that whole story is that every new resident of Rowlett selected the town for personal reasons. I had mine, others had theirs. So, what did we get?
Well, you know my reasons for picking Rowlett, but I picked for family reasons. What did I really get? Now its time to think about what else I got besides what I negotiated for. The "what else" is the same for all of us.
I am now thinking about the security of my investment. My original reasons are almost gone. My kids are raised and out of the house and live with their own families. I don't swim or ride horses anymore. The hot air balloons and crop dusters are long gone. The vine and the creek are still there, but I have a tendency to fall halfway thru the swing. Now, I'm looking for a different lifestyle and security of investment.
I now want Rowlett to be the "best little hometown in Texas." If it becomes so, then I will be happy to remain here and I know my investment is secure and I will actually add real estate value to my balance sheet.
So, what's working for Rowlett? Well, let's start with the fact it is located in North Central Texas. This area has got to be one of the top two or three economies in the entire United States. Because of the business acumen of our Texas leadership, we are increasing more jobs than anywhere in the country. If you watch job formation, you will know where the real estate values are going to increase. If real estate values increase, the tax base increases. If tax base increases, and spending is kept under control, real estate taxes remain reasonable.
So, if the reasons you purchased a home in Rowlett are still present, and the regional economy is still good, you have made an good selection. Now, if any other positive influences become evident and enhance what you already have, you have made an excellent selection by chosing Rowlett. So far, my selection process of 40 years ago has been working fine. I (we) caught a good card by being in Texas, particularly North Central Texas.
Now, lets focus a little tighter on Rowlett. We had this sleepy burg 40 years ago that no one knew where it was. The major highways completely missed the town. Rowlett was only 1527 population for a reason. Nobody could find it. Then, Interstate 30 went thru a little to the south of Rowlett. Still yet, no one knew Rowlett was just over the hill, just as you drove over the lake to Rockwall. I once wrote a column in the DMN whereby I said no one purposely came to Rowlett; only those people that were lost. They were usually looking for Garland or Rockwall and made a wrong turn.
Then, Dallas and Texas began cranking up the economy. Dallas started a pretty good growth rate. They sold all their houses. There were license plates from all over the Midwest seen on Dallas streets...... looking for a job; looking for a house. Land was cheap in Rowlett. Residential land could be purchased for $20,000 per acre. Lots began to be developed along Princeton Road. Rowlett got a shot in population growth arm. Someone about this time started talking about a toll road around Dallas. They didn't know exactly where to put it, but Rowlett was in the hunt. Later, talks began about extending something called DART from Garland to Rowlett. Who rode on trains, anymore?
However, when standing back and surveying the situation, a real estate analyst could see that definitely something was coming together. For example, Wal Mart, Home Depot, and Target knew exactly what they were doing. Banks began popping up like service stations. Albertson's, Tom Thumb, and other smaller retail businesses began to blossom.
Now, I'm kinda an "old timer." I already admit I got more than I bargained for. Newer Rowlett arrivals looked at a slightly longer and better list of amenities than I had. However, from this point forward, the old timers and new arrivals are both looking for the same things. There may be a difference in their initial selection processes, but they are the same as we go forward. Many variables are influencing Rowlett at this point. Housing is a big one, but we will get into the variety of housing later. It suffices to say, at this point, that good housing must be present.
So, along with the personal needs of well serving our families, we look to the other factors that secure our investments and enhance our lifestyles. The list that Rowlett residents have available is awesome.
Let's take a look at them. Rowlett still portrays a rural lifestyle. I think most residents like that. If they didn't, there are many places in the Metroplex that a more urban lifestyle is available. Because of the Dallas "spill over," new business is coming to Rowlett along Lakeshore Parkway. The appearance of medical support businesses is impressive. The hospital is planning a huge expansion. DART is now here. You can access anywhere in the Dallas metroplex in which DART serves. That is a huge benefit. The Geo. Bush Tollway is now serving auto traffic to any parts of the north Dallas area, the airport, and Ft. Worth. Just 15 to 30 minutes up the toll way the economy is creating 20,000 new high paying jobs. Of course, the 23,ooo acre Lake Ray Hubbard is still there. And finally, the annexation of Bayview, previously Robertson Park, is now in the hands of a developer. This land, in my opinion, is the most valuble land between downtown Dallas and Memphis. When fully developed, Bayview might put $1 Billion of real estate on the tax rolls.
Folks, can you fathom everything above? It's unbelievable. It's all come about within the past 15-20 years. I am hard pressed to identify any other town of similar size anywhere, let alone Texas, that has more opportunity. There are cities that have more of each of the parts, but not the whole enchilada.
We people, already living in Rowlett, have been dealt an incredibly good hand. I am not usually this lucky in poker. There is more to say about Rowlett, but I wish to include it in the next post, along with the leadership roles.