Not enough houses to go around as Toyota moves to Plano, Texas

The big issue in one of last week’s most hotly contested area mayoral races wasn’t crime or taxes or economic development.

No, more than 40 percent of Plano residents who voted wanted to turn back time. They want the Collin County city, one of the fastest-growing in the country, to put the brakes on urban development and keep Plano “suburban.”

Good luck with that.

Job relocations by huge companies including Toyota, Liberty Mutual Insurance, JPMorgan Chase, FedEx and Boeing have made Plano the envy of the country.

So why are 4 in 10 Plano residents who voted in a snit about the town’s growing business and residential base?

Well, they are ticked at all the new apartments and don’t want the traffic and congestion that come with economic success. They are entitled to their opinions, but in the great arch of history, they will wind up a footnote.

 

More than 7 million people are living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. During the next decade, almost 2 million more folks will be here. By the 2020s, we’ll have more than 10 million.

They all need someplace to live, someplace to work, someplace to shop and eat. And, most of them will have cars.

It’s going to be a mess — get over it.

Nothing we can do short of sabotaging our economy will stop it. Does that really sound like a plan?

Rather than fight against higher density, communities and their residents are going to have to figure out how to embrace it and make it work best for everybody. Not everyone will be happy.

But we can’t keep building farther and farther out into the next vacant farm field just so everyone can have their own quarter-acre of suburbia.

The infrastructure costs of pushing north to Oklahoma are too high, and all those people living on the south banks of the Red River would have to commute to jobs in Plano, Frisco and Dallas clogging the roads just the same.

Apartments have long been a lighting rod for the no-growers.

But the only way we can house the thousands of young people moving to D-FW every year to fill new jobs is to build scads of rental units.

More than 50,000 apartments are under construction in North Texas. We need every one of them if all the 20-somethings headed our way for careers are going to have roofs over their heads.

Homeownership rates are at decades low and the average homebuyer is now in their mid- to late 30s. If we don’t build apartments, where are our young workers and residents going to live?

Most of the people who are against new apartments haven’t set foot in one in years. Go look at the latest rental units in Legacy West, Frisco or Dallas’ Uptown. You’ll be surprised at the lifestyle.

Get ready for carmageddon as D-FW’s big new developments open this year

Almost a third of the renters in these complexes are now 50-plus folks who don’t want a house.

Instead of fighting denser housing, city planners, politicians and residents are going to have to roll up their sleeves and figure out how to deal with the complicated issues of transportation, infrastructure and affordable housing.

It’s going to be a long, tough haul to accommodate the growth in this region, but fighting to stop it or wishing it wouldn’t happen isn’t an alternative.

Back in the late 1970s, when I started writing about real estate, one of the projects was a series of stories about the “mixed blessing” of growth in North Texas.

Companies including American Airlines had just discovered D-FW and were moving thousands of people here.

Some locals I talked to almost 40 years ago were already lamenting the pace of expansion — with only 2 million people living here, mind you.

If, as a North Texas resident, you are against growth, you’d better start filling out a change of address card.

Millions more people are coming and we’ve got to be ready for them.

The $3 billion Legacy West development in Plano will include apartments for more than 2,000 people, along with offices expected to house up to 20,000 workers.

 

EDWARD R GARCIA, PLANO

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