By Rodney Hays
While the 2008 downturn in the economy crippled much of the nation, it was only a speed bump along the highway of growth for Prosper. Since 2008, the town has continued to grow at a record pace, including finishing 2013 with a record-setting 486 single family housing permits issued. That number is a 115 percent increase from five years ago.
"The strength of our housing market continues to show steady resilience, trending upward on a progressive incline year to year. Since 2008, we’ve seen an average yearly increase of about 15 percent in the number of permits issued. Even in the tough financial environments of 2009 and 2010, the Town held its own. The new 2013 record merely confirms what we were seeing two and three years ago," said Chris Copple, the town’s director of development services.
After the initial drop, the town continued a small increase in 2009 and 2010, then exploded by 31 percent in 2011.
"By the end of 2011, we had surpassed 370 permits and the outlook for 2012 was extremely optimistic. In addition, we were hearing from developers that they were preparing for several years of the kind of construction we had not seen before," said Copple.
The close of 2012 saw a 24 percent upsurge in permits, setting a new all-time record of 461 permits issued. "The level of activity in the development community during 2012, while not a complete surprise, was nevertheless an eye-opening revelation of things to come," he added.
Many folks may have blinders to the growth because of the road construction going on around the town. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, and this one is not flashing construction zone amber.
The town is expecting most of the road construction along Preston Road, First Street and Coit Road should be completed by the first quarter of 2014, paving the way for more growth, this time in the commercial sector.
Three major developers are looking to finalize projects and start clearing land in 2014. Blue Star, owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, should begin work on The Gates of Prosper project this spring. The project was initially approved several years ago, but after the change in the economy and with the new improved Preston Road corridor, Blue star has submitted new zoning requests. Prosper Mayor Ray Smith said town staff is working with Blue Star to get those requests approved.
"The first or second quarter of this year, you will see some heavy equipment pushing dirt around," Smith said. The development will include retail, restaurants and in later phases, some urban-style apartments.
Developer Terra Verde should have phase one of its Windsong Ranch development open in the first half of 2014. The 600 acres development is situated along U.S. 380, west of the Dallas North Tollway.
Smith said the Town of Prosper and Terra Verde worked together as a public-private partnership to bring water and sewer to the west part of town.
"That’s going help obviously. You are gonna have to have water, sewer and roads. That was a big infrastructure project," Smith said.
Other projects that are on the books for the next couple of years, include several projects along U.S. 380 on the east side of town and developments along the Tollway corridor.
Another project that may lack the luster but not the effectiveness will be the new water plant being developed by the Upper Trinity Regional Water District, which serves the needs of residents in the Denton County portion of Prosper. The Town of Prosper recently approved the sale of $16 million in bonds for the new plant. Construction should begin this year and completion is scheduled for the summer of 2015.
Smith said Prosper is one of several communities working together on the water project.
Overall, Smith said he believes the residents of Prosper will be pleased.
"I think the citizens will be relived that they won’t see a bunch of orange cones up and down Preston Road," Smith said. Instead it will be "big dozers moving around on what was once farmland and pasture that will turn into some retail space along those roads."
And the home market will continue to set the pace in Prosper. The Town approved 1,285 single family lots for construction on final plats in 2013, demonstrating the home building market in Prosper is getting even stronger.
"The number of permits in 2014 can be expected to increase substantially, possibly setting yet another record next year," said Copple. "The vision that we had in 2008 of a Town with a robust approach to growth and development is now coming into full focus. The leadership of the Mayor, the Town Council, the staff, along with the work of the hundreds of volunteers who serve on boards and commissions, in setting the tone for the next decade has been absolutely invaluable."