The Prime Opportunity Zone No One Is Talking About In Grand Prairie
Of 628 census tracts designated as opportunity zones across Texas, one 4,000-acre tract in Grand Prairie has garnered little fanfare despite its potential to launch a development boom in the Mid-Cities region of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Even before the opportunity designation reached the city, Grand Prairie already possessed the qualities of a destination suburb, although its potential remained somewhat hidden.
"I think it's definitely one of those markets flying under the radar; it's starting to pick up attention with residential development, and I know multifamily developers are starting to take interest in Grand Prairie and Mansfield and some of those southern Mid-Cities," Transwestern Research Manager Andrew Matheny said.
Matheny started paying attention to Grand Prairie when Ikea chose the suburb for its second DFW location years after placing its only North Texas store in the growing suburb of Frisco. The location of the store, which opened in December 2017, showed the real estate community that the mega-retailer saw something in Grand Prairie to ensure future sales activity.
With a population of roughly 191,000 and an average household income of $64K, Grand Prairie has the workforce, households and prominent location near major shipping thoroughfares to become a prime landing pad for industrial, retail, office and even residential development.
Adding more fuel to Grand Prairie's fire is the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The act brought opportunity zones into being by allowing states to designate tracts of land in low-income areas; and in exchange for pushing funds into qualified zones, real estate investors receive capital gains tax cuts after they meet applicable investment standards.
Several South Dallas and urban DFW OZs have received a lot of buzz in the last few years, but the 6.5-square-mile OZ tract in Grand Prairie has escaped public attention despite its potential to spawn billions of dollars of development.
The sole designated OZ entirely in Grand Prairie (a city of Dallas OZ includes a small part of the southeastern part of the city) includes the well-known horse-racing destination, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, and the suburb's entertainment district, Grand Prairie Director of Economic Development Marty Wieder told Bisnow.
The zone is nestled between busy thoroughfares, with the tract sitting somewhat north of Interstate 30 (or Tom Landry Freeway) and east of State Highway 161 (or the President George Bush Turnpike Western Extension).
The city started hearing about the creation of opportunity zones when one of the major players in Grand Prairie, Global Gaming LSP — which operates Lone Star Park — brought the program to its attention, Wieder said.
"There is a recognition that a large portion of the ... developable acreage is controlled by one particular entity, Global Gaming Solutions," Wieder said.
Though the entire tract is more than 4,100 acres, about a quarter of that is under the spotlight for commercial development past and future. About 890 acres in the OZ is owned by Crow Holdings, 285.4 acres is owned by the city's Sports Facilities Development Corp. for the Lone Star Park site, while another 79.7 acres is owned by Twin Eagles Development. The Grand Prairie Facilities Development Corp. owns an additional 27.6 acres where the Theatre at Grand Prairie and AirHogs Stadium lie and Lone Star Park's operator, Global Gaming Solutions, owns about 5.9 acres south of Lone Star Boulevard.
Global Gaming Solutions and Grand Prairie were already trying to develop around the energy of Lone Star Park, and the OZ added additional fuel for the city and park to push forward with their long-term vision of building out quality hotels, entertainment destinations, restaurants and other commercial venues around the racetrack, Wieder said.
Right now, the primary focus of the zone's developable acreage involves the Lone Star Park area and infill areas surrounding it. However, attention could shift next to about 200 acres of Crow Holdings' land north of where Hunter Ferrell Road transitions into Wildlife Parkway in Grand Prairie, according to Wieder.
The area owned by Crow Holdings will become prime real estate for commercial real estate development when Wildlife Parkway is fully extended to intersect directly with the George Bush Turnpike, said Stewart McGregor, a business manager for the city of Grand Prairie. The 200 acres already houses some corporate space, manufacturing, industrial distribution and office showroom sites.
"We've had some other [developers] show interest that may want to take a look at something more entertainment-related," Wieder said of Crow's land.
The OZ in Grand Prairie also serves as a gateway for additional commercial growth south of Interstate 30, where a wide swath of acreage for commercial development remains.
"The opportunity zone up there will help spur more cohesive development between that corridor of the entertainment district and along Belt Line and I-30, spreading down a mile further south into Downtown [Grand Prairie]. We have a good opportunity there to play off all of that," McGregor said.
When going farther south in Grand Prairie toward Joe Pool lake near Texas State Highway 360, another 30 to 50 acres of developable commercial land remains beyond the opportunity zone, McGregor added.
The OZ provides Grand Prairie with one more balm for future development deals at a time when the city is slowly emerging as a player in the commercial development world.
"What's been interesting over the last 10 to 15 years is Grand Prairie has evolved," Matheny said. "You see that with all of the retail development that is going on and the housing development. There also is still land available in Grand Prairie where you can building housing that really attracts people who aren't looking to pay the prices you see in Collin County and who want to stay close to Dallas."