What began with Alliance Airport in 1989 has grown into a 26,000-acre master-planned development led by industrial, commercial and residential real estate developer Hillwood.
AllianceTexas is now home to 61,000 employees and 525 companies. The development had an additional $10.5 billion of capital investment underway at the end of 2019, according to the AllianceTexas 2019 Economic Impact Report.
“AllianceTexas’ success can be attributed to the continued collaborative relationship between public and private sectors, with a shared vision and goal for community and growth,” Hillwood President Mike Berry said in a company news release in January.
The development now has key partnerships with BNSF Railway, Amazon, FedEX and other industry leaders, he said, and through those partnerships, AllianceTexas has become a unique testbed for new technologies.
“We have tried to go to the next level with our strategy,” Berry said. “We’re all about transportation and mobility, and everything we do at Alliance extends across the region.”
Hillwood has taken a proactive approach with the AllianceTexas development by establishing utilities, easements, transmission lines and other vital infrastructure on land that might not see development for years, Hillwood Executive Vice President Bill Burton said.
“It’s very unique to have a property owner ... who has a commitment to the long-term vision,” Burton said. “It’s really about quality in planning and creating something that’s unique.”
After adding 800 acres of new land in 2019, AllianceTexas remains around 50% developed. The development currently has more than 50 million square feet of completed development, which is the equivalent of around 800 football fields.
“You’re going to see development velocity continue to increase,” Burton said.
The AllianceTexas region as a whole has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, more than doubling its lifetime economic impact since 2010.
“It’s night and day,” said Jackie Pierce, owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More at Alliance Town Center. “It’s fun to navigate these waters and see what’s happening in the area. For the better part of 15 years, nothing happened here. Now, it’s like ‘Wow!’”
“There are company operations and activities we never thought of or heard of,” added Burton. “It’s clearly not just aviation. The airport was the anchor, but it’s far broader and more impacted.”
With the addition of an Amazon E-Fulfillment center and a Facebook data center, the economic impact of AllianceTexas on the region accelerated in 2015.
“Anytime they have success, it helps us,” Roanoke City Manager Scott Campbell said. “Whether it’s a retail, industrial or manufacturing component, people come into the area and ultimately make their way to Roanoke.”
The addition of major facilities, such as an Amazon Air regional hub at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, a Mercedes-Benz business operations center near I-35W and Charles Schwab headquarters, anchor of the Front 44 mixed-use development at Circle T Ranch, have only increased growth, Burton said.
“It’s a pretty significant number [of workers], and it has an impact on the service industries: hotels, restaurants and shops,” he said. “It has a significant impact beyond just the borders of our property.”
Industrial development is the bread and butter, Burton said, but AllianceTexas has helped to grow neighboring communities by spurring residential and school growth.
The economic impact of the development is more than $83 billion since 1989.
AllianceTexas properties have also paid more than $2.3 billion in taxes to cities, counties and school districts.
“When we started, you had virtually no business and industry in Northeast Tarrant County,” Burton said. “Now, you have the commercial base, and as people come, you need the amenities.”
Hillwood’s partnership with AllianceTexas-based companies led to the creation last spring of a Mobility Innovation Zone. It is centered around Alliance Airport and the BNSF Railway Intermodal facility.
“How do we take advantage of all this capital and all this knowledge?” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price asked at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in January. “We have to be there to facilitate and bring the right people to the table. Our goal is to look at that big picture ... to facilitate and grow this region.”
The goal of the Mobility Innovation Zone is to develop, test and commercialize new surface and air transportation technology, Berry said.
The Mobility Innovation Zone fosters partnerships with Bell, BNSF, Uber, AT&T, Verizon and others.
Companies are encouraged to develop emerging technologies, such as autonomous lift vehicles, autonomous container and product capabilities, an air taxi service and 5G infrastructure, he said.
“The next evolution in mobility is the mobility of people and product,” Burton added.
“I remember when we didn’t have cell phones,” he said. “Things have come a long way, and more is coming, and we need to be prepared. We want to do something bigger and bolder. We’re focused on the here and now, but we’re also focused on the future.”