The relatively small Denton County Town of Northlake is about to get much bigger, with the recent approval of a large-scale, master-planned community just off of Interstate 35W.
Pecan Square will be a $1.5 billion development of 3,000 homes situated on 1,157 acres of largely vacant land that fronts Farm-to-Market Road 407.
At full build out, Pecan Square will be home to an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 people. As of today, the estimated population of the entire Town of Northlake is 3,300 people.
Eight different homebuilders have been chosen by the developer, Hillwood Communities, in an effort to offer a variety of housing options. Pricing on the homes, which will be situated on lots from 40 feet to one-acre, will range from $270,000 to the $500,000s, according to Hillwood.
In addition to people and homes, Pecan Square would be the site of the first ever schools to be built in the Town of Northlake – an elementary, a middle school and a high school that would serve the fast-growing Northwest Independent School District.
The push of development from North Fort Worth in the area around Alliance Airport, which is also a Hillwood property, and the Texas Motor Speedway has spread deeper into Denton County in recent years.
Denton County is projected to be the nation’s fastest growing economy over the next five years, according to an Oxford Economics forecast.
Over the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, the projected economic growth in Denton County’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be 4.1%, compared to a projected 2 percent growth for the entire United States economy over the next two years.
“We want a community that has sustainable growth, that is properly planned, that will bring in a diverse population,” said longtime Northlake Mayor Peter Dewing. “We want our children to be able to choose Northlake as their home when they get older.”
Dewing told NBC DFW he is convinced that his town’s approach to development, which included the implementation of a comprehensive plan for growth nearly a decade ago, will be superior to that of other North Texas municipalities that have gone from small community to established suburb seemingly overnight.
“Frisco was developed by developers,” Mayor Dewing said, referring to the Collin County community that has been considered to be among the fastest-growing cities in the United States over much of the last 15 years. “Northlake is being developed by the town, with the assistance of developers. If developers come in they have to do so in accordance with our comprehensive plan; not the other way around.”
Mayor Dewing insisted that Pecan Square will not fundamentally change the makeup of his town. For example, the Mayor noted that 11 square miles of Northlake has been preserved for rural residential development, which includes homes that must be built on plots of more than 1 acre. As a point of comparison, the Mayor indicated that entirety of the nearby Town of Argyle, which is also experiencing projected growth, is 11.1 square miles.
“I think it is a good thing,” said Jerrad Dodd, a lifelong Northlake resident, who currently works at a nearby convenience store but hopes to one day work for his growing community. “I think they are following in the footsteps of what Argyle is doing. What Denton did a little bit. Fort Worth has been that way. I think it will be good for Northlake to do the same.”
Development of Pecan Square will not happen overnight. Hillwood and the Town expect to break ground in the spring of 2018, and anticipate that the first phase of homes will be move-in ready in the summer of 2019.
However, not everyone is looking forward to all of the construction.
“I think people move out here to live kind of a more secluded, country-type of life,” said Megan Williams, whose parents live in Northlake. “Then with development building up I think you feel a little like it’s closing in on you – a little less country life and more, kind of, city encroaching on that.”