Proponents of the construction of Alliance Airport more than 20 years ago touted its potential to spur economic growth.
So Fort Worth aggressively annexed land around the area to claim the growth for its own.
The payoff: Over the past decade, north Fort Worth was the fastest-growing portion of the nation's fastest-growing big city.
Since 2000, the north side-Stockyards area and the Alliance Corridor added 82,665 people. Most of the growth occurred north of Loop 820, where the city has annexed land all the way into Denton County. Essentially, the area became a suburb in Fort Worth.
Housing developments -- and big ones -- began sprouting up faster than weeds in spring in far north Fort Worth. The growth has helped boost Fort Worth to the 16th-largest city in the U.S.
Growth resulted from new housing that was less expensive than comparable homes in many Northeast Tarrant County suburbs; from the attractiveness of the Keller and Northwest school districts; and from access to jobs, including ones that followed Texas Motor Speedway to the area. Texas 170, which connected with Texas 114 and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, created new commuting routes into Dallas County.
Among those who came were John and Lisa Sawicki, who moved with their two sons from Southern California in 2006 when he received a transfer with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, whose headquarters are north of the loop. John Sawicki is originally from Chicago, Lisa Sawicki from Pennsylvania.
"We found an area that had a wonderful sense of community, great public schools and everything is within a few minutes' drive," Lisa Sawicki said.
The Sawickis found relative paradise here, especially considering the difference in cost of living between California and Texas. They sold their home near Palm Springs and bought one here. "We came here from Southern California, so obviously we had a lot of equity to work with," Lisa Sawicki said.
The Sawickis' boys, 11 and 8, attend school in the Keller district. Lisa Sawicki works as a school lunchroom monitor at an elementary school. "This is a fabulous place to live and raise kids," she said.
But rapid development outpaced construction of infrastructure. The city is trying to play catch-up. Plans are to expand Interstate 35W, and other major thoroughfares are being or have been upgraded.
John Henry, 817-390-7539