Strong development activity continues in the cities
Dallas Business Journal - December 16, 2005
by Lisa Tanner
A surge of corporate expansions and relocations has buoyed Collin County, even during the economic downturn. And retail openings continue to follow the ever-increasing numbers of rooftops going up countywide.
The county has caught, and kept, the attention of companies aiming to grow their businesses, which are drawn by a strong work force, improving transportation system and other amenities.
That business expansion, in turn, helps the cities grow beyond bedroom communities to boast a more diversified tax base.
And leaders are optimistic that, as they close a strong year, there's an equally robust one ahead for 2006.
Recent activity in some of the major Collin County cities include: Allen
Brisk leasing for the first phase of BSM Financial Center, which is going up on the southeast corner of Ridgemont Drive and U.S. 75, has prompted Cornerstone Development to plan a second office building on an adjacent 5-acre tract.
The Allen Economic Development Corp. owned the land purchased for the project, which includes a 50,000-square-foot first phase and a 50,000-square-foot second phase.
Also this year, Jack Henry & Associates Inc. expanded and purchased an adjacent building in Allen's Enterprise Business Park. The company came to Allen with the 1998 acquisition of Peerless Group and now the rapidly growing company employs almost 300 in the city.
Applied Signal Technology Inc. also moved from temporary offices to 30,000 square feet on Century Parkway where the electronic systems division is now housed. And Advanced Optical Components has leased 162,200 square feet in Millennium Technology Park to house about 150 employees.
Although these projects and many others represent a broad slice of business types and industry segments, Allen is short on mid-rise Class A office space, said Charisse Bodisch, executive director of the Allen Economic Development Corp.
"Our office vacancy rate is so low," Bodisch said, adding that other needs include small office/tech space and specialized medical space to complement the expanding Presbyterian Hospital of Allen. Frisco
There's no arguing with Frisco's success in attracting retail, from the busy Stonebriar Centre mall to the millions of square feet of stores that surround it.
Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA opened its 310,0000-square-foot store in March, and other large retail projects are planned.
But other 2005 additions include the 320-room Embassy Suites Hotel and nearby Pizza Hut Park, which in November hosted the championship game of Major League Soccer.
Most recently, wireless provider T-Mobile USA Inc. announced plans to bring more than 850 new jobs to Frisco, on its way to a work force of 1,200 at its new technology campus in the Duke Bridges office park on Warren Parkway. The 230,000-square-foot network operations center and related operations are expected to be open by summer 2006.
That will make T-Mobile the largest private employer in Frisco, according to Jim Gandy, president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp., a player in the project along with the city, the state of Texas, Duke Realty Corp. and The Staubach Co. McKinney
In McKinney, several large speculative office buildings are under construction, but that's just one active sector out of many, said David Pitstick, president and CEO of the McKinney Economic Development Corp.
Thanks to a slew of new superstores and other retailers, retail sales tax collections were up 33% for the city's fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, 2005.
And McKinney's Collin County Regional Airport has been tapped as the $4 million DFW JetPort, which will include an office, aircraft hangar and ramp space.
At the same time, longtime McKinney manufacturer Encore Wire is expanding its 1 million-square-foot McKinney facility to make room for a new product line. And McKinney's largest employer, Raytheon, plans to add about 200 more positions to its 2,000-strong work force as it transfers its electro-optical facility from California to McKinney.
Construction will begin in 2006 on a $200 million project called Gateway that will include a 250-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, convention center, retail and office space. Plano
Already the county's biggest employment center, Plano expects to add another 1,500 jobs with the purchase of a Coit Road office campus by Countrywide Financial Corp.
The company's purchase of the three-building complex, which previously housed Alcatel operations, also helped improve the city's commercial office vacancy rates.
The city also retained the headquarters of Rent-A-Center as the company plans a move from rented space to a new campus in Legacy business park.
The project is also important because Parkwood Boulevard will be extended to the campus, which opens up additional development sites, said Sally Bane, executive director of the Plano Economic Development Board.
Also this year, the North Texas Tollway Authority bought a two-building office complex to expand its operations, and Ericsson announced that it would open a new research center at its North American headquarters in Plano.
Consumer lender Capital One Financial Corp. also plans to move about 200 jobs from San Diego to Plano as it relocated some of its auto financing operations.