Once a rural highway overrun with traffic from nearby cities, Texas 114 has undergone a transformation in recent years.
The road is now a spacious, well-lit freeway — and businesses have responded with a new wave of hotels, restaurants and corporate campuses.
Several hundred million dollars’ worth of commercial developments are either underway or scheduled to begin soon along Texas 114 in Southlake, Westlake, Trophy Club and Roanoke. The area straddling the Tarrant County-Denton County border has become a magnet for financial services, insurance, hospitality and many other industries.
Among the recent arrivals is the new Cambria boutique hotel, which opened in December at Texas 114 and Kimball Avenue in Southlake. On a typical day, guests can be seen munching on shrimp “lollipop” appetizers and sipping craft beer at the hotel’s Social Circles lobby bistro.
In the four-story Kimball Park office complex next door, several hundred employees of businesses including Keller Williams and Liberty Mutual are preparing to move into their new digs, scheduled to open at the end of May.
A few miles down the road in Westlake, construction workers are clearing land to make way for a massive $100 million Charles Schwab Corp. campus. The new facility for the brokerage and banking firm is expected to employ 1,200 people. Next door, developers will add restaurants, a 200-room hotel, about 275 residences and a million square feet of office and retail space.
In Trophy Club, once a tiny, upscale bedroom community, three hotels have opened and a fourth is under construction.
Area leaders say an infusion of more than a billion dollars to improve the highway during the past several years is mainly responsible for the economic boom.
“It just goes to show you that good roads are good for business,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, whose precinct includes the area.
The $1.4 billion investment in public funds could eventually generate more than $16.8 billion in private-sector activity, according to one estimate.
By comparison, at nearby AllianceTexas in far north Fort Worth, every $1 in public money has generated $12 in commercial activity, according to developer Hillwood Properties. Officials there believe the same ratio could apply to development coming to the Texas 114 corridor.
In the AllianceTexas area, which includes 18,000 acres surrounding Alliance Airport, various governments have invested $653 million since 1990. That includes money spent on roads, utilities and schools. And that investment triggered an $8.03 billion expenditure of private funds during the same period, according to Hillwood.
Although AllianceTexas initially attracted manufacturing and distribution jobs, the area is now seeing more white-collar employers as well.
The Texas 114 corridor is attracting lots of interest from financial service companies.
Just a mile or so east of the planned Schwab project, Fidelity Investments operates a massive regional campus with 4,500 employees in Westlake — about four times bigger than the town’s population.
Deloitte, which performs accounting and other professional services, has a large corporate training center in Westlake.
And another brokerage firm, TD Ameritrade, is moving its Alliance operation to Southlake, where it will have more space for future expansion. The new, 350,000-square-foot campus — nearly as much floor space as two Wal-Mart Supercenters — is scheduled to open by the end of the year.
“We are developing a business operations center that will have a capacity for 2,000. That is not the number of employees that we have today, nor is it the number we expect to have when we move in. It is a number that will give us room to grow over time,” spokeswoman Melissa Matson said in an email.
An additional 10 million square feet of corporate office space is still available at Hillwood’s Circle T master-planned area, said Russell Laughlin, executive vice president of Hillwood Properties. In all, in the coming years there could be as many as 15,000 white-collar jobs added along the Texas 114 corridor, he said.
“We have high-quality infrastructure, high-quality workers, affordable housing and good schools,” Laughlin said.
While proximity to good highways is important, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is also a huge factor.
During a $1 billion makeover of the Texas 114/121 corridor in Grapevine — a project known as the DFW Connector — a company known as Medici Development Partners bought property along Texas 114 and Kimball Avenue in Southlake. The vacant land was about a mile west of the $1 billion road project.
Once the highway improvements were complete, Medici and its partners broke ground on the 175-room Cambria boutique hotel and the Kimball Park office development.
The projects, which together cost roughly $46 million, wouldn’t have gotten off the ground if it weren’t for the road improvements, said Jeff Medici, managing partner.
“It was critical. When I purchased the land five years ago, I would not have thought to make that type of investment if I didn’t know the infrastructure commitment was already underway,” Medici said. “When you talk about building a hotel, if it’s seven minutes from the airport versus 15 minutes, that really matters.”
Other upscale hotels are being planned for the area as well.
A planned 240-room Delta Marriott at the southeast corner of 114 and White Chapel Boulevard was approved by the Southlake City Council in January, but an exact construction date hasn’t been announced, said Alison Ortowski, assistant city manager. The six-story hotel is expected to have meeting space, a restaurant and a lounge.
Also in Southlake, a seven-story Westin hotel with a rooftop restaurant is planned along Texas 114, next to Gateway Church. In 2015 and 2016, the city approved agreements that would provide $5.4 million in property tax and sales tax reimbursements over 12 years, and hotel occupancy tax incentives over five years. The developer, SRH Hospitality, hasn’t announced when construction will begin.
And, a Hotel Indigo is planned at the northeast corner of 114 and White Chapel. The project is currently going through the approval process with the city, Ortowski said. That hotel would include 121 rooms and a French-inspired design in the Carillon Southlake development.
More work on the way
The roadwork isn’t over.
Although much of Texas 114 is now three lanes in each direction, a portion of the road between Trophy Lake Drive and Kirkwood Boulevard is only two lanes each way. However, a third lane in each direction is being added in a $24.8 million project scheduled to be completed by December 2018.
Also, as part of that project, the Texas 114/Texas 170 interchange is being improved and an overpass is being built so that Roanoke’s Parish Lane can connect to the area of Westlake where the Schwab campus is planned.
There are also several projects on roads adjacent to Texas 114, including the planned expansion of U.S. 377 from Henrietta Creek Road to Texas 114 at an estimated cost of $15.2 million. That project, expected to be underway in the next couple of years, includes widening a two-lane section of U.S. 377 to a divided, four-lane road with curbs, gutters and a raised median.
Many other projects underway in the Metroplex are contributing to the boom along Texas 114, said Frank Bliss, president of Cooper & Stebbins, which developed Southlake Town Square. For example, the ongoing Interstate 35W expansion in far north Fort Worth is making it easier for people who live and work along Texas 114 to get to and from downtown Fort Worth — about 20 miles away.
Also, expansion of LBJ Freeway, I-35E and other Dallas-area roads makes it easier to go east, he said.
To the west, once I-35W work is complete, motorists will have the option of using toll lanes to travel at maximum speed even during busy times of the day. Or, if they prefer, they can stay on the main lanes toll-free.
“All too often we tend to think of projects as isolated,” Bliss said. “One of the reasons Schwab is going where it’s going is access up by DFW Airport. I can get [from the Schwab property] to downtown Fort Worth in 20 minutes. I can get to downtown Dallas in 30 to 35 minutes. I can get access from Fort Worth up to Toyota in Plano and Frisco in 35 minutes.
“Every single one of these projects helped open the region up to businesses.”
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.