When the developers of Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm were looking for a location for their unique, resort-style, mixed-use development, they had a number of options.
Plans for the 52-acre project included a large creekside village green, interactive public art, a variety of retail options, restaurants with al fresco dining and views of the water, and office space and residential lofts, says Cornell Holmes, senior general manager of Watters Creek.
Ultimately, they found that Allen, Texas, offered everything that they needed to succeed.
Smart Business spoke with Holmes about the reasons for choosing Allen and the role the Allen Economic Development Corporation has played in its success.
What played into your decision to locate Watters Creek in Allen, Texas, over other available locations?
As a developer of regional malls, outdoor retail and mixed-use properties, we were conducting a nationwide search for development opportunities. At the time, we used a software program that identified pockets of areas of qualifying population density, growth trends and demographics.
After that, population pockets were further qualified by distance to existing higher-end retail centers. As a company based in Fort Worth, Texas, we were pleasantly surprised when Allen, Texas, ranked in the top five of our nationwide search. Additionally, award-winning Montgomery Farm was being developed and land within a half mile of Central Expressway frontage was available.
What role did the Allen Economic Development Corporation play in your decision to locate in Allen?
Initially, we were attracted to Allen for the fundamentals: strong job growth, an educated work force, household income levels and an outstanding location with available land. Next, the stakeholders committed to creating a truly unique environment and due diligence was conducted based upon plans of creating a LEED certified, vertically integrated urban village with ample open space and top retailers.
At that point, things became challenging. We had already decided that we loved Allen before we knew much about the Allen Economic Development Corporation. But when the due diligence process started to get rough, the AEDC really stepped up and made this opportunity go much more smoothly for us. The AEDC bridged the gap and played a monumental role in making Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm a reality.
How has your relationship with Allen Economic evolved and been maintained?
As a developer/landlord in multiple markets, we appreciate the economic or business Development teams in all the cities in which we have projects. A good ED/BD team helps get the initial project done, assists with attracting quality tenants and helps drive up occupancy. Many cities have good economic development teams. However, Allen has a great economic development team.
The AEDC continues to connect with the existing business community in Allen and they have a real pulse on everything that is happening in the business community. They continually reach out and share ideas. They also provide introductions between existing area businesses and are committed to maintaining a happy and productive work force in Allen.
And of course, they promote our businesses. The Allen Economic Development team is like an extension to our own team and it is incredible to have access to such talent and support.
How has the location impacted your success?
The old cliché is that the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location, and Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm nailed all three. Besides being in a city that is strategically located just 10 minutes north of Dallas, the location along Central Expressway is approaching the 200,000 cars per day mark.
Second, the location is surrounded by growing daytime employment centers. Just across the street is Allen Central Park, a 38-acre site which, when complete, will be a million-square-foot, master-planned office development. Directly across the interstate are more than 500,000 of existing square feet of office, with plans for further development.
Third, the location is part of the Montgomery Farm development, an interconnected master plan on one of the most beautiful landscapes in North Texas. Montgomery Farm is a model for the environmentally conscious community and connects prairie, forest, upscale residential (high, medium and low density), retail and office within 500 acres.
What advice would you give to other business owners considering moving their companies to Allen?
I would advise other business owners not only to meet with the Allen Economic Development Corporation but to take a look at the total package that Allen has to offer as a place to work, live, and play.
- Ranked among the Top 10 Safest Cities in the country.
- Ranked among Forbes Top 20 Best Places to Move.
- Allen Independent School District is lauded as one on the best in the nation, with 10 campuses rated as exemplary and seven earning a recognized rating under the accountability standards set by the Texas Education Agency.
- The city council, mayor and city manager, and every department from planning to parks to police to fire exhibits the same level of commitment that the AEDC exhibits in partnering with the business community. It is like having additional members of your team without the additional payroll.
And when you’re not working, there is also plenty to do and places to play, including 700 acres of parks, 40 miles of hiking and nature trails, five recreation complexes, a skate park, Hydrous Water Park and top dining and shopping.
To anyone looking to relocate a business, I would recommend contacting the AEDC to see what Allen, Texas, has to offer.
Insights Economic Development is brought to you by Allen Economic Development Corporation