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Prosper Texas The Next Big Thing
Dated: May 19 2015
The train doesn’t stop in Prosper anymore.
The depot where passengers and freight once arrived is long gone.
But the town north of Dallas that got its start as a railway whistle-stop is on the verge of a building boom that will forever change the once rural community.
And on the south edge of Prosper along U.S. Highway 380, surveyors are laying out sites for new shopping centers, office buildings and medical complexes.
“It’s been a whirlwind summer,” said Robert Winningham, who heads the Prosper Economic Development Corp. “We have 15,000 residents and are getting ready to double to 30,000.
“We will hit close to 500 new homes this year,” Winningham said.
With Frisco’s neighborhoods quickly filling up with new homeowners, Prosper is next in line to benefit from North Texas’ need for more housing. It’s already the second-fastest-growing community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to recent census reports.
The town couldn’t be in a better location, straddling Preston Road and the route of the Dallas North Tollway.
“We’re like a big net catching everything that comes up from Frisco,” said Winningham, who came to Prosper about two years ago after a stint as Allen’s top economic officer. “As Frisco fills up along the tollway that leaves us next.”
Two major residential projects in the works in Prosper will eventually add more than 15,000 residents.
The 2,000-acre Windsong Ranch community on the west side of Prosper opened this summer and has seen sales of dozens of new houses. The development by Terra Verde Group will eventually have about 3,000 homes.
“I plan on starting construction in the first quarter of next year,” said Joe Hickman, who heads Jones’ Blue Star Land Co.
The first phase of the Star Trail community will include about 300 home sites, Hickman said.
“The growth is headed north — that’s the way it has always gone in the past,” said housing analyst Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies. “There are really not that many large developable residential sites left in Frisco, and the prices are very expensive.
“Prosper is the next rung on the ladder,” Wilson said.
Residential Strategies reports that through the first three quarters of 2014, builders have started more than 400 houses in Prosper.
“We will see several new communities soon along the tollway route in Prosper,” Wilson said. “We expect a huge amount of growth up there, and the homebuilders are lining up.”
New houses in Prosper don’t come cheap. Wilson said most of the home sites in the town cost $100,000 or more.
“The average new home value is in excess of $400,000,” Winningham said. “We have held to pretty high standards here.
“We see ourselves like Southlake, if there is any comparison,” he said.
Regards to Broadway
Drive down Prosper’s historic business district along Broadway Street for a look at where the town started in the early 20th century.
Pickup trucks still outnumber cars parked for lunch outside the popular Cotton Gin Cafe.
At the end of the street, a cluster of huge grain storage bins marks the railroad right of way that put Prosper on the map.
Town leaders are planning to use some of the revenue from new developments to help save the old business district.
“We want to preserve our heritage amidst all this phenomenal growth,” Winningham said. “Some of the money that will be generated in the new retail corridor will be pumped back into downtown.”
New shops and restaurants are lining up along Preston Road, which was just widened to six lanes.
But the real retail and commercial development is gearing up down on U.S. 380.
Gates of Prosper
Developer Lincoln Property Co. and Blue Star Land plan to break ground next year at the northeast corner of Preston and 380 on a more than 300,000-square-foot shopping center.
It’s part of Blue Star’s 500-acre Gates of Prosper development.
Winningham said that potential retailers mentioned for the project include Wal-Mart and restaurants by Chili’s and Texas Roadhouse.
“The challenge has been we needed more rooftops to attract that retail,” he said.
Near the northwest corner of the tollway and 380, Texas Health Resources just bought more than 10 acres for an outpatient medical center.
And developer Matthews Paradise is planning to build a speculative office project next door as the first phase of a more than 100-acre mixed-use project.
“I started buying land up there in 1979, long before most people in Dallas even knew where Prosper was,” Godwin said. “The growth up there reminds me of what happened at State Highway 121 and the tollway, but it’s coming more quickly.
“Prosper is on fire with growth,” he said. “It’s moving forward more quickly than any of us expected.”
By STEVE BROWN Dallas Morning News
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