As homes go up in Northlake, city plans infrastructure step by step

dfwnewsa | January 2, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

As homes go up in Northlake, city plans infrastructure step by step

The Pecan Square neighborhood in Northlake is adding 3,000 homes to the area in a $1.5 billion master-planned community. (Seth Bodine | Fort Worth Report)
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Editor’s note: This is part of a series looking into regional growth. Read part one and two.

David Rettig, mayor of Northlake, estimates a third of the town’s population is brand new every year. At the peak of the town’s development, he joked that you would see an additional three new homes a day and one new street a week. 

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“You’d get back to the corner of you know, say one of the neighborhoods, and there’d be an entire other street all studded out,” Rettig said. 

In 2020, Northlake was a town of 5,201 people according to North Central Texas Council of Governments estimates. Since then, the town population has doubled to 10,430, with a growth spurt of 18.7% between 2022-2023. The growth is fueled by new housing from nearby real estate developer Hillwood, which is building a $1.5 billion planned community called Pecan Square, totaling 3,000 homes, and more than 4,000 homes with the Harvest development. 

Rows and rows of “sold” and “available” signs sit by vacant lots in the Pecan Square development. Some streets are crowded with construction vehicles. Workers hammer materials together and bulldozers buzz near the construction sites. 

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Rettig believes the city will grow to 50,000 people. Housing, combined with the proximity to Alliance — and other cities and new schools in the area — is driving growth. Keeping up with that growth means maintaining a delicate balance of keeping up with the infrastructure necessary to facilitate quality of life and prioritizing projects given limited resources. While Northlake has six roads maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation in its area, saving the town money, there’s still a long list of projects. “We can’t even begin to build all the roads that are needed,” Rettig said. “So we build the next one that we need …  the next stoplight, we push for that one. And then the next road, we push for that one.” Northlake, which Rettig calls a bedroom community, doesn’t have a town hall yet. Staff work from a coworking space and in four offices leased for various departments. Its public works department offices in a cinderblock building with a tin roof and gravel parking lot.“That’s part of our strategy,” Rettig said. “Wait on the expensive stuff, and build long-term financial stability for the town. Keep the tax rate low.”Rettig estimates the city has to raise $2,000 per every home that goes up. Buoying Northlake’s business base are industrial warehouses, about a third of which are from Hillwood. He estimates the city is looking at adding 30 million square feet in warehouses that can be used for manufacturing or distribution centers. 

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Despite the strategy of the city to balance growth with quality of life, residents such as David Owen, who has lived in Northlake since 2015, said he feels the city’s growing pains. Driving on some of the roads is like a bumpy roller coaster, he said. He worries what will happen if the city’s industrial base falls out over the years from a downturn. Like many small towns, he said, industry comes and goes.“These warehouses are going to belly up or go down eventually,” he said.Other residents, such as Alex Holmes, who plans on running for a council and precinct seat in Northlake, feels more hopeful about the town’s growth and the city’s plan to grow, called Northlake Next, which imagines the town in 2042.“We moved into what felt like the first day moving on campus to college,” Holmes said. “Everybody was excited and wondering what’s going to happen and, now, we’re starting to see that kind of come to fruition.”Looking forward, Holmes said traffic will definitely be the pain point going forward as the city works with TxDOT, and strives to maintain the look and feel of a rural town. She said she isn’t worried about industry fallout.“That risk always exists,” Holmes said. “And we have had a really smart and thoughtful development plan to offset as much of that risk as possible. Personally, it’s not something that I worry about.”

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Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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