AllianceTexas, Hillwood stacking up the successes

Posted Friday, Dec. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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By all yardsticks, AllianceTexas’ success is truly taking off.

Only two years ago, the giant development around Fort Worth Alliance Airport clocked past $1 billion in direct property taxes paid to support Fort Worth and the Northwest and Keller school districts.

Getting to the $1 billion mark took more than 20 years.

Barely 20 months later, Alliance is returning public investment at a rate of $17 for every $1 in public money, heading for $2 billion in taxes paid.

When Hillwood Properties President Mike Berry delivered a merry holiday-season annual report to the Fort Worth City Council Tuesday, he introduced that slide with the preface, “Now, here’s the best news you’ll see all day.”

When the Perot family, the federal government and the city of Fort Worth teamed up 25 years ago to build Alliance Airport and spur development in then-vacant land between Fort Worth and Denton, there were critics who complained that such a remote project would never pay off for taxpayers.

This year, the total cumulative direct payoff for taxpayers will grow to $1.3 billion. At the current rate, the total will hit $2 billion in another five years.

And that’s only the tax payment.

Alliance’s current annual economic impact in North Texas: $50 billion.

The development has fully regained momentum lost to the 2008 recession, Berry said.

“It’s been a pretty incredible year,” he told the council.

Alliance’s growth and the U.S. economy are “back in forward motion,” he said.

Alliance made headlines this year as the home of Flextronics’ Motorola Moto X smartphone and new online fulfillment centers for Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

Less noticed was the news that current warehouse tenant LG Electronics leased a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse in the new Alliance Center North project, launching an entire new 650-acre industrial park.

Alliance Center North is one of the largest undeveloped parcels left in the development. Eventually, it will add another 9 million square feet of industrial property.

The new project also indicates Hillwood Properties’ faith in the economic rebound. Hillwood is building another warehouse as a speculative project, the first since 2007 built with no immediate tenant.

Interstate 35W motorists will notice AllianceTexas’ new six-story office tower, the future home of the Federal Aviation Administration regional office and 1,600 employees.

The entire project offers 357,214 square feet of space, AllianceTexas’ biggest move yet into the quality office market. Eventually, the tower will grow to include an entire office park with towers and trails.

The FAA Tower adds to what will become the AllianceTexas skyline. A three-story building, Hillwood Commons, is also planned at Alliance Town Center.

“It’s going to change the whole perspective of I-35[W] as you drive up and down,” Berry said.

Nearly every week, another retailer opens at the 500-acre Town Center. The 50 stores and restaurants include a Kroger Marketplace, Sam Moon, Belk and J.C. Penney, plus Houlihan’s, Mi Cocina and, before year’s end, a new Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe.

AllianceTexas’ and Hillwood’s success story was told in a September Forbes cover story about how the Perot family is not only rejuvenating North Texas but also “Reinventing America” with their air-truck-train “inland port” concept focused on healthcare and logistics.

If you look at the growth of Alliance, Berry told the council, it’s a model for rebuilding industrial America.

“We’re not only seeing manufacturing come back to the U.S., you’re also seeing a lot of innovation and change in the industrial economy,” Berry said.

Shiny and new, AllianceTexas has the perfect space to redesign a business for the future.

In numbers, it’s home to 360 companies and 37,000 jobs, adding 5,000 per year.

And it’s only half finished.

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