Growth on US 380 to 'explode'

Residential expansion has garnered interest of developers

Drivers on US 380 will not see much lining the busy roadway today except for a few empty fields. But real estate signs sprinkled along the edges of the highway that borders Frisco and Prosper are a harbinger of things to come, city planners and real estate specialists said.

With development in Frisco pushing north and neighborhoods in Prosper popping up near the highway, US 380 will be the next major hotspot for development by the first quarter of 2015, Rex Real Estate owner Rex Glendenning said.

"It's just about maybe a year to 18 months away from exploding," he said.

Glendenning said he often works with Donald Godwin, a Dallas attorney and real estate investor, who owns more than 6,000 acres in North Texas, including about 400 acres on Dallas Parkway and US 380.

Godwin said US 380 will someday become the next SH 121.

"Rex and I have kind of coined the phrase that we think probably best defines that area," Godwin said. "It's called 'the epicenter of growth.'"

Developing interest

Two things have made US 380 attractive to potential developers, said John Lettelleir, Frisco's director of Development Services.

First, US 380 is one of the only major east-west thoroughfares north of SH 121, connecting Denton and McKinney and intersecting major north-south highways. Other thoroughfares, such as Eldorado Parkway, are blocked by Lake Lewisville to the west.

Second, neighborhood developments have grown the market in the area.

"[You've] got to have the people to have the retail," Lettelleir said.

Major residential developments in Prosper, such as Windsong Ranch off US 380, have brought people to the area who can support a retail market, Glendenning said.

"We were lacking those rooftops previously on the north side of US 380, but now we have those rooftops and the population that was needed to establish the retail developers and the mixed-use developers coming in and actually truly developing," he said.

Both Frisco and Prosper once had the borders of US 380 zoned for industrial use because mainly semitrailers drove on the roadway. Now that more commuters drive on US 380, the area has been rezoned for mostly commercial use.

"Hopefully a lot of the retail and businesses will capture the traffic that goes through there," said Hulon Webb, Prosper's executive director of Development and Community Services.

Webb said the town of Prosper has been a bedroom community for many years but is now seeking developers to bring in retail and offices. Several developments are in the works now.

Windsong Ranch, a 600-acre master-planned community, opened in Prosper this year. A mixed-use development south of the neighborhood was also announced.

On Sept. 23 the Prosper Town Council approved a Toyota dealership west of Dallas Parkway.

Farther east on US 380 at Dallas Parkway, Godwin plans to have a development with office buildings, a hotel and a shopping center.

At Preston Road, where Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones owns all four corners of the intersection, there are plans for big-box retail, including a Wal-Mart, Webb said.

On the Frisco side of US 380, the biggest planned development is the 320-acre mixed-use development at the southwest corner of the DNT and US 380. Cinemark Theatre committed to anchoring the project last year. Right now the city is working on extending utilities to the site.

Meanwhile, Godwin has plans to turn his 120-acre property on the southeast corner of US 380 and Dallas Parkway into another mixed-use development.

Jones' property at Preston Road in Frisco is currently zoned for retail use, and a Wal-Mart has submitted plans at the southeast corner of US 380 and FM 423.

Lettelleir said several types of developments have emerged, though the highway still has not been defined. Frisco is seeking the public's input on the roadway during its comprehensive plan update.

"You see a variety of uses [on US 380]," Lettelleir said. "It's not shouting, 'Hey, I want to be this.' That's one of the reasons we're relying on the public to have them provide us with input."

Supporting the growth

For developers to start building on the land off US 380, utilities such as water and sewer lines need to be in place. Godwin said Frisco has already made sure utilities are ready for development.

The town of Prosper has also been working to get utilities ready, Webb said. Before Windsong Ranch, the utilities stopped at Dallas Parkway. Now that the utilities have extended west on US 380, more developers have expressed interest in that land, he said. The town is now extending utilities to Preston Road as well, Webb said.

More development along US 380 means the potential for more traffic. It is one of the most traveled roads in the area, according to Frisco's traffic flow map. A 2012 study from the Texas Department of Transportation showed nearly 30,000 vehicles per day drive the highway.

Congestion may get heavier around major intersections, such as Preston Road or Dallas Parkway, where developers are concentrating their projects, Lettelleir said.

"Your major tenants want to be at major intersections for accessibility, for visibility," he said.

TxDOT has started work on US 380 to widen it to six lanes from Lovers Lane in Prosper east to Custer Road. From Lovers Lane west to CR 26, TxDOT plans to construct a freeway section with frontage roads with separated intersections. Both projects are expected to be complete between 2015 and 2016.

The future of US 380

With both Frisco and Prosper vying for developers, there is a lot of competition on either side of the highway, Lettelleir said. Once Prosper has developed more, its residents will not come south of US 380 as much, he said.

Webb said whatever companies come to Frisco and Prosper, the two sides of the highway need to complement each other.

"We don't want to do something that will be in direct competition with each other because you may lose out on some opportunities," he said.

Godwin, who said he has been investing in real estate for 35 years, said when land on 121 was the hotspot for development, prices tripled and sometimes quadrupled. He expects the same to happen along US 380.

"I believe, and have thought for many years, that that road is going to give landowners and ultimately the users of that property much more visibility than perhaps any other tract that has been developed south of there, other than perhaps [Lydon B. Johnson Freeway], in the last 30 years," he said.