During the past couple of decades, one of the fastest-growing new-home markets in North Texas hasn’t been in Frisco, McKinney or Prosper.
Thousands of homebuyers have settled into new communities in the Interstate 35W corridor between Fort Worth and Denton. And most of those buyers have purchased homes in developments by the same builder: Hillwood Communities.
“We’ve been working in this corridor for 31 years,” said Hillwood Communities president Fred Balda. “We are up to 9,000 home lots and we aren’t done yet. There is huge demand for housing up here.”
Hillwood’s first master-planned residential community, called Park Glen, was built in North Fort Worth in the late 1980s with 3,000 homes.
Since then, the developer has marched north up I-35W in the same region, where it built the huge AllianceTexas commercial and aviation complex.
Hillwood is opening its fourth big residential community along I-35W, called Pecan Square. Its 1,200-acre Harvest home development in Argyle, which debuted in 2013, is more than half-finished.
“We have another 1,000 to 1,500 homes to sell at Harvest,” Balda said. “We have three or four years of true activity left there.”
The Pecan Square project in the town of Northlake will have sites for 3,000 homes. Hillwood is also working on its next huge development farther north, Hunter Ranch in Denton, which will total 6,000 acres.
“Hunter Ranch won’t start for another five years, but it’s a magnificent piece of property,” Balda said. “It will be our largest project with about 7,000 to 8,000 lots. We are already in the process of getting it entitled.”
Balda said Hillwood has less competition from other developers because it owns so much of the market in the I-35W corridor.
“It’s limited where you can develop en masse up here because of a lack of infrastructure and the oil and gas wells,” he said.
Ted Wilson, who heads Dallas housing consultant Residential Strategies, said the I-35W corridor is one of the last areas north of Dallas-Fort Worth with room to build and easy access to employment centers.
“What’s remarkable is not only do they own land for houses but are producing the jobs with their AllianceTexas development,” Wilson said of Hillwood. “That’s helped Harvest become the No. 1 master-planned community in DFW.”
More than 60,000 people work in the AllianceTexas project, including thousands at new facilities for Charles Schwab, Mercedes-Benz Financial and Stanley Black and Decker.
“We have this home market up here because of the huge employment center that’s been built just to the south,” Balda said. “Charles Schwab has 2,500 employees showing up in September, and it’s going to grow to 5,500 in their next phase.”
Balda said more of its homebuyers in the new Denton County developments are coming from out of town.
“About 25 to 30% of our buyers in all of our projects are relocations,” he said. “In this particular corridor, it’s trending upward more than we have ever seen.”