Haslet is open for business

01/13/2014 2:26 PM

01/13/2014 2:27 PM

Haslet has a message for developers in 2014: We’re ready for you.

This semi-rural city of almost 1,600 residents, nestled amid fast-growing far north Fort Worth, definitely has room to grow. It's only about 25 percent built-out in terms of residential, retail and industrial capacity, Mayor Bob Golden said. And with recent improvements to infrastructure and roadways and tentative plans to add a major east-west thoroughfare to help facilitate better traffic flow between Interstate 35W and U.S. 287, there's more reason than ever for shops, restaurants and other quality developments to consider making Haslet home this year or in the near future.

“We’ve tried to the best of our ability to get the city ready for development," Golden said.

Nothing makes the case for Haslet's development environment better than its recent deal to bring an Amazon fulfillment center to town. “Amazon set the stage that Haslet’s a great place to come to,” Golden said.

Thanks to years of planning, street improvements and additions to Westport Parkway made the location ideal. And the Council and staff demonstrated its ability and eagerness to quickly do its due diligence and reach a deal that benefits both the company and the city, Golden said. The development deal only needed about 120 days from start to finish to be completed, he said.

“We showed the flexibility to make things happen in a very short amount of time,” Golden said.

Developers also are likely to be awed by the city’s low 32-cent tax rate and the high-performing Northwest school district. A new high school – called V.R. Eaton – that would serve children in the Haslet area and north Fort Worth is expected to open in August 2015.

“We have a built-in incentive with our tax rate,” said Golden, who also cited the school district and its adept leadership under Superintendent Karen Rue as one of the region’s major selling points.

Even though things are pointed in the right direction, there’s still plenty of work to be done this year – and in coming years, Golden said.

For one thing, city leaders are researching a major road project that would provide motorists with a major east-west thoroughfare through the city. The so-called Avondale-Haslet Connector would be a four-lane concrete-divided roadway that would ease the flow of traffic through the Haslet area. The proposed project, which would likely involve funding from several entities, is still in the discussion and planning phase. When it reaches fruition, the connector stands to drive up demand for retail development on and near the intersection of F.M 156 and Avondale-Haslet Road.

“It’s going to help the traffic pass through and by bringing it through the area, will lead to expanded opportunities for retail,” Golden said.

Another major capital project is a proposed Haslet Parkway that would, in effect, extend Texas 170 west of I-35W. It could be a phased project. The parkway would first be built from I-35W west to nearby Harmon Road, a major north-south roadway. Like the connector project, the Haslet Parkway concept is in the due diligence phase, according to the mayor.

City leaders also will continue to look this year into redevelopment of Old Town. The redevelopment area could eventually give Haslet an attractive mixed-use zone with retailers on the ground-floor level of multistory buildings with residential dwellings above the storefronts.

“It’s ultimately going to be what a developer decides to bring to the table,” Golden said of the possible Old Town redevelopment.

New eateries and other possible new development could be in the works in 2014. And with so much growth potential, there’s an abundance of reasons for Golden and Haslet officials to be excited about what this new year will bring.

"We’re primed and ready," Golden said. "This is a very exciting time.”

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