Friday, December 8, 2023

Furst Ranch approved by Flower Mound Town Council

Flower Mound Town Council voted Monday night to approve a zoning request for Furst Ranch, a development that will drastically change western Flower Mound over the next 40 years.

The council approved an ordinance for rezoning over 1,000 acres of Flower Mound Ranch (aka Furst Ranch), a large proposed mixed-use development on all four corners of the Hwy 377/FM 1171 intersection, from Agricultural District and Interim Holding uses to Mixed Use District-2 uses, as well as some other exceptions, waivers and modifications to the Code of Ordinances. Council members Ann Martin, Jim Engel and Brian Taylor voted to approve, while Sandeep Sharma and Adam Schiestel voted against it.

Landowner Jack Furst and local design and engineering firm McAdams Co. presented a plan that includes thousands of homes and apartments, tons of commercial and office space, plus parks, trails, schools and possibly a resort hotel, corporate headquarters and a hospital. High rise buildings up to eight-stories would be allowed, but warehouses are no longer in the plan.

Council approved the development about 11:20 p.m. Monday, more than five hours after the meeting began and after about 60 residents spoke during the public hearing. The majority of them — including former mayors Jody Smith and Steve Dixon and local restaurateur Marty Bryan — were in favor of the development, as were most of the more than 40 written submissions from residents. Those who spoke in favor said they were eager to have the amenities the development will bring to western Flower Mound — including a large park, shops and restaurants — and they promoted the tax benefits to the town and the high quality of the development. Many pointed to the fact that Furst wants to call it Furst Ranch as assurance that he and his family will ensure the legacy project will be done well and will be a great place for people to live, work, eat and play without leaving Flower Mound.

Those who were opposed cited the density of the multi-family units and related concerns, such as traffic and infrastructure. Sharma said he shared those concerns, saying that the large number of apartments was not needed nor justified and that he didn’t think there was enough open space in the plan.

But the three other council members outnumbered him and Schiestel.

“This is going to be like Lakeside, but 10 times better,” Councilman Jim Engel said. “I think the residents are going to love this development Jack is going to build for us.”

The community has seen many iterations of Furst Ranch. During a Town Council/Planning & Zoning Commission work session in April 2021, town officials made it clear to Furst that they thought that version of Furst Ranch — with its 4,000 apartments and nearly 1,300 townhomes and condos — was “not a good fit” for the western entrance to Flower Mound and the town’s vision. Furst then pledged to go “back to the drawing board” to make a more amenable plan for the town.

Later on in 2021, with a new design firm, concept plan and name, a plan for Flower Mound Ranch went to Flower Mound in parts. This spring, the Town Council approved Furst’s request to rezone 544 acres in the north and west parts of the property to one-acre home lots. The remaining, larger section of the property remained designated Agricultural and Interim Holding, a temporary placeholder designation for annexed property, while the applicant negotiated with town leadership over the number of multi-family units. In an application last fall, the Flower Mound Ranch plan included more than 10,000 apartments, a number that Furst’s attorney Misty Ventura said was allowed by the property’s vested rights. However, after negotiations with the town, Furst’s revised, current concept plan calls for 6,000 apartments, with 1,000 of them being age-restricted for seniors. In addition, the apartments will be phased in based on Furst bringing in new commercial space.

“For the first 10 years, I can’t build any more than 2,750 apartments,” Furst said at a recent community meeting.

Along with multi-family housing, there will be 3,000 single-family homes.

The vision for Furst Ranch is to protect the natural scenic views and environmental features in western Flower Mound while providing an active lifestyle for the community. (Photo by Ken Vaughan Photography)

Furst set aside 50 acres for a new Argyle ISD elementary and middle school, and will donate 15 of those acres to the school district, with the district purchasing the remaining 35 acres.

Thirty percent of the land will be open space with 12 miles of trails, and Furst is donating 97 acres on the south side of the property to Flower Mound for a town park with ball fields.

Plans also show restaurants lining a boardwalk on the shore of Burger Lake in the middle of the property.

Furst is proposing a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to help finance the infrastructure of the development, which would need approval from the Flower Mound Town Council.

The project includes 6-8 million square feet of commercial uses along six miles of road frontage on FM 1171 and Hwy 377. Furst estimated the commercial tax base generated by the project at buildout will be in the $5 billion range.

“This is an opportunity for us to create the western gateway of Flower Mound,” Furst said at a recent community meeting. “We’re trying to create a quality development that has unbelievable tenants, both residential and commercial.”

As far as what stores would come, Furst said he is talking with H-E-B Grocery. As far as traffic goes, Hwy 377 will be widened with an overpass spanning FM 1171 and TxDOT is working on plans to widen Hwy 377 south into Roanoke.

The project will be built in phases gradually over the next 30-40 years, with the first residents possibly moving in by the end of 2026. At buildout, the development is expected to be home to more than 20,000 people.

Watch: NBC 5’s Ken Kalthoff talks with Furst about his plans.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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