Forest City to Develop Mixed-Use in Dallas

Forest City Enterprises Inc. has big plans for the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The real estate company, acting through its Forest City Commercial Development subsidiary, has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city and the Frisco Community Development Corp. to create Frisco North, a 320-acre mixed-use development that will sprout up in phases over an undetermined number of years.

Forest City Enterprises Inc. has big plans for the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The real estate company, acting through its Forest City Commercial Development subsidiary, has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city and the Frisco Community Development Corp. to create Frisco North, a 320-acre mixed-use development that will sprout up in phases over an undetermined number of years. The public-private partnership behind the project includes Ernest Mahard Jr., owner of the sprawling site on the southwest corner of the Dallas North Tollway and U.S. Highway 380, just 25 miles north of Dallas.

Plans for Frisco North are hardly based on fantasy in terms of impending demand for such a gargantuan project that will ultimately encompass office and retail space, residential accommodations ranging from apartment rentals to for-sale single-family homes, hotels and entertainment venues. If Frisco were a nice little well-kept secret a decade ago, it is becoming increasingly noticeable on the national radar. The city has experienced exponential growth over the past 10 years or so, and there appears to be no end in sight.

“In 2000, our population was approximately 33,000 and in January 2010 it was 116,000,” James Gandy, president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp., told CPE. “Last year, the U.S. Census recognized Frisco as the fastest-growing city in America.”

And Frisco has garnered any number of accolades in the press. It was recently cited as the best place to raise an athlete. “We have such a great school system and a tremendous sports industry. There is a very large collection of amateur, adult and professional sports venues.” The National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars, for example, maintains its headquarters and practice facilities in Frisco.

Gandy also pointed to the strong corporate headquarters community there, with many companies relocating to the area and 8.5 million square feet of “well-established and branded regional destination center space anchored by a 1.6 million-square-foot mall,” he noted, located within a 120-minute drive of 6.7 million people. Never mind the big shoppers coming in from Dallas proper and environs; the median household income in Frisco is an annual $101,574.

Now that the partnership’s memorandum of understanding is in place, Forest City will continue to move forward with the planning, designing and engineering of Frisco North. The development schedule will be market driven, Gandy noted, but he predicted an opening of phase one by 2015, based on market growth. “The rate of growth slowed during the economic downturn, but it is still growing rapidly,” he noted.

Forest City is ready to take the next steps. As a spokesperson for the real estate concern told CPE, Frisco North is an opportunity Forest City is familiar with, and the company has been working toward getting to this point for a couple of years.

Indeed, Forest City has had its eye on Frisco and Texas in general for quite some time. As evidence of its commitment to pursuing real estate opportunities in the Lone Star State, just days before revealing the Frisco North arrangement, Forest City announced the formation of a new leadership position designed to reinforce the company’s increasing activities in Texas. Brian Ratner, a 24-year veteran of the company who had been serving as president of East Coast Development for Forest City’s Commercial Group, has been promoted to the position of president of Forest City Texas and will spearhead those activities from an office in Dallas.