Northeast Tarrant

Housing boom prompts Northwest district to buy land for more schools

Northwest trustees recently approved the purchase of 140 acres bordered by Avondale Haslet Road, at far left, to the north and railroad tracks on the east for a future high school and middle school. Here, traffic backs up in late afternoon on July 7 while train cars are moved from a nearby BNSF facility.
Northwest trustees recently approved the purchase of 140 acres bordered by Avondale Haslet Road, at far left, to the north and railroad tracks on the east for a future high school and middle school. Here, traffic backs up in late afternoon on July 7 while train cars are moved from a nearby BNSF facility. sengelland@star-telegram.com

The new home market is booming once again in the sprawling Northwest school district, prompting officials to purchase land for six new schools, including two high schools.

Of the six schools, two elementary campuses were among four that were part of the $399 million bond package that voters approved in May.

The most recent land deal also came in May, when trustees approved a $5.35 million purchase of 155 acres south of Avondale-Haslet Road and west of Farm Road 156, on the western edge of Haslet in far northwest Tarrant County. The purchase involves two parcels in the Le Tara master planned community: 140.6 acres for a high school and middle school and 14.5 acres for an elementary school.

“It is a beautiful site and will be a great part of our district,” Board President Mark Schluter said.

When fully developed, Le Tara will have a little more than 500 homes on 275 acres with walking trails and pocket parks, said Clint Baker, financial manager for Westwood Real Estate Development in Grapevine.

“It will be a nice, walkable community with neighborhood schools and a small community feel,” Baker said. “Families like the idea of walking to school, especially for elementary kids.”

Land purchases were made for three other schools in October and January.

Money used in the recent land deals came from bond packages approved by voters in 2005, 2008 and 2012, according to school district documents.

Plenty of space available

After a lull in new home starts, the housing market has skyrocketed in recent months. Bob Templeton of Templeton Demographics said Northwest has the largest supply of potential future home lots in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with more than 30,000.

Templeton recently told officials at a Northwest school board meeting that the first quarter of 2017 was the busiest first quarter for housing starts in more than a decade, with 484 housing starts, compared to 309 in 2016. Templeton predicts the district will grow by 6,200 students over the next five years to more than 28,000 in enrollment and surpass 35,000 in 10 years.

Besides the recent land purchase, a 16-acre site for a future elementary school was bought in January for $2 million. The property is in far north Fort Worth just east of U.S. 287 and south of Hicks Road.

In late October, trustees approved the $8.6 million purchase of 149 acres between Interstate 35W and North Riverside Drive, just north of Timberland Boulevard, for a future high school, middle school and stadium. The site near Northwest’s Kay Granger Elementary is about a mile from the Keller school district’s Timber Creek High School.

No timetable is in place for any of the new schools and stadium.

Impact of Fort Worth

Northwest has grown dramatically in recent years, from 11,824 students in 2006 to now more than 22,000. There are 17 elementary schools, five middle schools, three traditional high schools and one accelerated high school. Of those schools, at least 15 were built in the last 12 years, with the last one, Eaton High School, opening in 2015.

The next school to open will be Adams Middle School, next door to Eaton, in 2018. An elementary school will also open in 2018.

One of the largest districts in the state in terms of territory, Northwest encompasses 234 square miles and includes parts of Tarrant, Denton and Wise counties and 14 municipalities, including the fast-growing area of north Fort Worth.

Fort Worth added 9,050 residents in 2016 and now has an estimated population of 815,430, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland

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