BELINDA WILLIS, Published by Texas Real Estate Business
The Mansfield Economic Development Corporation continually assists real estate developers looking for “the perfect spot” for retail, commercial or industrial projects in Texas.
The community, named by Money Magazine to its Best Places to Live in America list four times since 2007, is in the spotlight often due to its excellent quality of life, preferred school system and convenient location in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. But when you add availability of land, continued growth in residential, strong employment base and high average household income, Mansfield’s dynamic profile is a developer’s dream.
“Mansfield just doesn’t stop; the momentum is tremendous,” says Scott Welmaker, Director of Economic Development for the city. “Many communities are just now starting to recover from the economic downturn in 2008. We never really stopped. We just got the chance to take a quick breath, and get back to what we’ve been doing for the 20 years – growing.”
A key to Mansfield’s growth in the retail, commercial and industrial sector has been its growth in residential. The city is one of the fastest growing cities in North Texas with a population (now close to 70,000) that has more than doubled since 2000. Those rooftops house affluent consumers who shop and dine at retail establishments and work at offices and industries locating in the city.
“With a very high average household income and an education system that works with local industries to train students for a variety of jobs, Mansfield can provide prospects with a strong foundation to succeed in our community,” Welmaker said.
The Mansfield Economic Development Corporation, along with the City Council, is also a part of that successful foundation. The MEDC, a 4A corporation, offers complete flexibility to tailor a partnership meeting the needs of each individual project.
“Our goal is to support local industries, and the community in general, by assisting with infrastructure costs,” he said. “These provide important assistance for developers but also continue to positively grow the infrastructure of the city.”
Infrastructure assistance is particularly important because of amount of available vacant land. At only 60 percent developed, the city has room in the southern sector of the community for residential, commercial and industrial.
“That’s what makes Mansfield unique, I think, when compared to many of our neighbors,” said Richard Nevins, Assistant Director of Economic Development. “We aren’t land locked by any means. And if you add the additional 12 square miles that is in our ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) that’s a significant amount of land for a variety of projects.”
If the current development activity in Mansfield is any indication, many investors have already zeroed in on the third largest community in Tarrant County. HEB has tapped Mansfield for one of its stores at the intersection of U.S. Highway 287 and East Broad Street. And across the street from HEB, dirt is already moving at what will be the Shops at Broad, a large, mixed-use retail and lifestyle center that is expected to showcase some of the nation’s top retailers.
As these projects developed, the city has demonstrated its willingness to invest as well with several major public facilities designed to not only provide services for residents but draw visitors to the community. The $12 million FieldhouseUSA indoor basketball/volleyball facility opened in December near the site of the Shops at Broad and is expected to draw one million visits annually. And a major anchor of the Shops at Broad development will be the $15 million Mansfield StarCenter ice arena, a partnership between the city and the Dallas Stars.
“City leaders very much see the economic development of Mansfield as a partnership,” Welmaker said. “The city has strategically used public –private partnerships to enhance the quality of life for our residents and encourage economic development in the city. We are investing as well, knowing that our commitment goes hand-in-hand with the commitment we’re asking developers to make to our city.
“And Mansfield is only going to keep growing,” Welmaker said. “The continued growth, the quality of life here that attracts consumers with high average income … all of these attributes make Mansfield a strong investment for any developer. “