Looking down from a window of the fourth floor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, the view of The River Walk at Central Park begins to take shape.
Roads wind through the property sandwiched between Morriss Road and FM 2499 north of FM 1171 with more than about $4.5 million spent so far to lay the groundwork of roads, pipes and other support structures that will serve as the base for a new concept in North Texas – a mixed-use center with the main feature of a flowing river.
When finished, The River Walk will feature the town’s first hotel, an amphitheater, chapel, restaurants along the river, a farmer’s market, public art, a town museum, retail, medical, residential and more. The project will feature waterfalls and pedestrian bridges with a row of restaurants offering dining right by the river.
“This has been a project that’s been evolving,” said Mehrdad Moayedi, president and CEO of Centurion American, which is developing what some say will be a major draw for the town. “I’m really proud of the River Walk.”
Council member Bryan Webb echoes his sentiment: “I still think this is going to be exceptional, It’s going to be one of those little secrets that not everyone is going to know about.”
By March, the river will be flowing and by the summer of 2016, the west side will be finished with the plaza ready by the end of 2016, officials say.
Recent amendments to the River Walk spurred some concerns, but officials say the original concept was a starting point that, with time, has evolved into what makes sense in Flower Mound. Gone are the proposed 6- to 12-story buildings and automated four-story parking garages that would have created an urban center in the middle of a town that prides itself on a rural, country-style atmosphere.
In its place is a town center, one of two under development, that town officials hope will bring a unique feel to the community as well as the type of retail draw that will be unlike every other community.
With at least 118 new businesses opening last year and another 20 on the horizon at the start of a new year, Flower Mound has placed the welcome mat out for new restaurants, retailers and other businesses though they are aiming for businesses that aren’t just like their neighbors.
From Trio Craft Coffee to Salata to Modmarket and more, new eateries are opening frequently in Flower Mound – often either locally owned or new concepts being brought into the Texas or Denton County market.
For instance, the River Walk is bringing in such restaurants as Primo’s Tex Mex Grille and Sfuzzi – eateries well known in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas – and a smorgasbord of businesses at Lakeside DFW – Moviehouse & Eatery, Cavaro Prime Brazilian Steakhouse, Bottle & Bottega and Taverna del Lago, to name a few.
It’s a blend guaranteed to keep residents closer to home, officials say.
“It took us 20-30 years to get to this point,” said Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos. “The groundwork is being laid to be able to provide what people want.”
Flower Mound officials say it is important to keep revenues inside town to have resources available for additional amenities including sports facilities and parks, including a proposed dog park.
With more than 1,600 jobs added to the town’s employment base last year at an 18 percent year over year job growth rate – the second highest in the country – officials hope more residents will be able to live, work and play within their own community.
From the work point-of-view, Flower Mound has attracted Signature Systems Group, Keystone Automotive, Whitlock and Custom Link to the Lakeside Business District. Others are on the way, officials say.
And residential developers are knocking on the town’s doors with a variety of projects from Bunn-Gourley West to Canyon Falls, not to mention the residential components of Lakeside DFW and The River Walk at Central Park.
From the play aspect, town officials look forward to the finish of improvements to Twin Coves Park, which is undergoing about $3 million in renovations over the next 18 months, the opening of the town’s first dog park as part of Heritage Park East, and the Purple Coneflower Trail and Pink Evening Primrose Trail, which are being upgraded. The town also plans to update 11 parks as part of its goal to keep existing parks in the community in top form.
Other amenities include a new senior center expected to be finished by May, the expansion of library services to meet growth with 3,500 new cardholders using the facility in 2014 for a total of 37,500 users. Additional water and wastewater lines have been added to increase capacity and service and streets have been improved, including Chinn Chapel Road from Waketon Road to FM 407 as well as Wichita Trail and Timber Creek Road.
Several national magazines and other news outlets have recognized Flower Mound recently with CNN Money Magazine naming the town as No. 2 on its “Best Places to Find a New Job” list and No. 12 on its “Top-Earning Towns” list. 24/7 Wall Street, which supplies news articles to a number of entities ranging from MSN Money to Time.com to USAToday, named the town as No. 9 on the “America’s 50 Best Cities to Live.” And D Magazine touted Flower Mound as No. 8 on its “Best Suburbs” list
Officials point to the town’s recent accolades as evidence they are on the right track.
Since 2012, Flower Mound has netted more than 4,000 new jobs with 3,000 of them in the professional realm and about 1,300 in restaurant and retail services, said Mayor Tom Hayden.
And with an estimated 60 percent of Flower Mound developed, council member Steve Dixon says 15 square miles of the town are undeveloped and will remain so. “Cross Timbers [Conservation District] will always be sparse on commercial or low density,” he said, adding that officials have always intended to stay true to the town’s comprehensive land use plan.
But adding some development that will bring ad valorem taxes, sales taxes, franchise fees, inventory taxes and other income to town coffers is, simply, good business, he says.
It is that reason town officials have approved tax incentive agreements to bring in certain projects – the return on investment is much more than what it would be without the project.
The diversification of the tax base takes the onus off residents, officials say, allowing them to put funding into parks as well as keep the town’s roads in good condition. And, that diversification is what netted Flower Mound a AAA rating with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
“We’re giving something back we never had to incentivize the company to come here,” Dixon said. “I treat the money on council like it was my money and I would not give my money away.”
Hayden agrees: “It [development] allows us to support what’s happening in town.”