Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Stock market surge stokes interest in Alice Walton’s ranches

Rocking W. Ranch features a full cutting horse operation.
Rocking W. Ranch features a full cutting horse operation. Courtesy photo

With an estimated net worth of $33.8 billion, former cutting horse queen Alice Walton sits atop the list of wealthy Texans, according to the latest annual ranking of the world’s billionaires by Forbes.

Well, real estate agents representing the Wal-Mart heiress hope to add to those riches by roping in a buyer for one of her drop-dead gorgeous ranches west of Fort Worth.

Interest in the ranches has picked up after last fall’s election and the subsequent gains on Wall Street, said real estate brokers Mac Coalson and Allen Crumley.

Coalson said he’s even gotten inquiries from someone who’d like to buy both ranches, which would mean that they would have to dig deep and come up with about $38.6 million.

“After the election, the stock market took off, and oil and gas took off, and people got positive in their brain, and it causes a good economy,” Coalson said. “They take risks and they spend money.”

One of the ranches is the 1,436-acre Rocking W, where Walton ran her cutting horse operation. Located near Millsap, it includes barns, stock tanks and a 4,100-square-foot home. Oh, and there’s that view of the Brazos River valley from a covered deck. Ticket price: $16.5 million.

The other luxury getaway is called Fortune Bend near Possum Kingdom Lake. At 4,416 acres, it is much bigger and has native rolling land and scenic limestone hills along with 8.5 miles of Brazos River frontage. All that, and a 4,346-square foot lodge, is going for $22.1 million..

Walton, who now lives in Fort Worth, rolled back the prices on the properties last year when the election was hot and people were unsure about the future, they say. Now things are different.

The stock market accelerated and put money in prospective buyers’ pockets.

Crumley at Williams Trew said anybody looking to buy one of these ranches “is a savvy buyer.” But he agreed with Coalson that the new economy has improved the ranch land business.

“They are still on the market and we’re showing them. We got some good lookers, just not been able to get a contract,” Coalson, who works at Coalson Real Estate in Weatherford.

Room to grow

Lockheed Martin’s need to spread its wings for F-35 production at its Fort Worth plant has already nudged out the F-16 program, which is moving to South Carolina. But that wasn’t enough.

The day after the company made public its plans to move the F-16 to Greensboro, S.C., Lockheed Martin announced it will expand into a new facility at its Johnstown, Pa., location to produce F-35 components. The expansion will create 40 new jobs at the central Pennsylvania plant by 2018.

Lockheed Martin AeroParts in Johnstown specializes in manufacturing and assembly of aircraft components for a number of planes built by the company.

“The majority of this work is done in Fort Worth, but the capacity we need exceeds the physical space we have — though it is growing over the next year,” said spokesman Ken Ross. “Our business in Johnstown does similar work for multiple platforms.”

Lockheed is completing its plan to lease and equip an additional facility to accommodate the new work in Pennsylvania, the company said. It hopes to begin producing a subset of parts by the fourth quarter of this year, which will be sent to Fort Worth for final assembly.

“The F-35 Lightning II is beginning the transition to full-rate production and the manufacturing expertise we have here has a growing role in delivering this incredible aircraft,” Gilda Jackson, general manager of Lockheed Martin AeroParts, said in a prepared statement.

Lockheed said it will begin moving the F-16 production line by the end of the year after delivering the last of the iconic jets to Iraq in September.

Grant Thornton adds name at Globe Life

The Texas Rangers gained a new teammate at Globe Life Park in Arlington this week when the national accounting firm Grant Thornton agreed to a three-year deal deal that will rename the upper and lower suite areas as the Grant Thornton Suite Level.

“The Rangers are very excited to add Grant Thornton to our family of corporate partners,” Jim Cochrane, Texas Rangers senior vice president for partnerships and client services, said in a statement. He said the firm also is “demonstrating a role as a great community partner with their involvement at our new Texas Rangers Youth Academy. We look forward to a strong relationship.”

Grant Thornton will make a donation to the planned Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex presented by Toyota, Cochrane said. The company also will host events and clinics there.

Building the state-of-the-art facility is a partnership of the Rangers, the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Dallas-based Mercy Street.

North Texas youth will get free or reduced-cost use of the facility, which will have five fields and an academy building.

Grant Thornton also will host a “spring training experience” later this week at the Rangers’ complex in Surprise, Ariz., according to the statement.

Robert Cadwallader

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko