To say 2016 was a good year in Arlington would be an understatement.
By any standards, it was an awesome year.
At the top of the list of achievements has to be the decision of voters to ensure the Texas Rangers would remain in Arlington for at least another 35 years and probably well beyond.
The results confirmed the legacy of the city’s residents, known for their positive can-do spirit that has made Arlington a unique and special place. They recorded a 20-point landslide victory in the election.
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Ground was broken for the first phase of long-anticipated development taking shape in the midst of the new billion-dollar ballpark, Cowboys stadium and the current ballpark. Globe Life Park will be re-purposed for a variety of uses as part of what is planned for the future.
Texas Live! will transform the entire entertainment complex in the city. More than 3,000 new jobs and three million new visitors are expected as a result.
The $250 million project is scheduled to open in 2018, two years before the new ballpark will host its first Opening Day.
While it has not yet received a lot of media attention, the Concours d’Elegance of Texas is moving from Houston to the entertainment district and will stage its sixth annual event there this coming spring. The announced goal of the three-day classic car exposition is to create a Pebble Beach Concours event in the center of the country.
Adding to previous news of the $1.4 billion expansion of the Arlington General Motors Assembly Plant, the company’s financial center has made a $35 million addition to its operations center, nearly doubling its size and employment.
Downtown Arlington is exploding with the beginning of construction of the new central library and completion of $50 million six-story 101 Center mixed-use development that will hold its opening in the new year.
Meanwhile, in addition to another year of record-setting enrollment, UT Arlington broke ground for a new $125 million Science and Engineering Innovation and Research Building.
Leading the Arlington Independent School District’s challenge of educating 64,000 students is Marcelo Cavazos, who was named Texas Superintendent of the Year. He’s also managing the projects underway for the record $663 million in improvements approved by district voters.
The city’s largest-ever residential development is enjoying progress ahead of schedule. Viridian will grow to a $2 billion investment by the time it is completed.
The $30 billion commercial development known as Champions Park will introduce new shops, stores, restaurants, offices and more to North Arlington.
It’s just down the street from the work underway to build the headquarters of D.R. Horton, a home builder and Fortune 500 company that will bring 500 jobs to the city.
Summit Racing Equipment announced it will open a new $82 million warehouse facility, retail super store and customer support center at the strategic intersection of Interstate 20 and Texas 360. They expect their workforce to grow to more than 300 in the next few years.
Motorists will find getting into, out of, and through Arlington a lot easier when the long-awaited interchange at Texas 360 and Interstate 30 is opened for traffic.
Its completion will be a significant benefit to the growing number of visitors to the city that will likely top the 15 million mark when they are all counted for 2016.
Perhaps all of what has taken place in a landmark year helps to explain why Money magazine named Arlington as the “Best Big City” in the south.
All of this and more makes what’s behind us looking back a sight to be seen — and looking ahead is ever more promising for the city on the move.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.