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3 Big Developments Set To Change The Face Of Allen, Texas

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Incorporated as a town in the early 1950s, the Dallas suburb of Allen gives off a vibe of suburban newness as it continually adds to its population of 104,000 residents.

The city has changed rapidly, doubling from its 2000 population of 45,000 residents, and is expected to grow to 117,000 citizens by 2023, according to the Allen Economic Development Corp

And Allen, whose history is said to include time spent as home to Native American Indians hundreds of years ago, is about to be transformed again. 

3 Big Developments Set To Change The Face Of Allen, Texas
Incorporated as a town in the early 1950s, Allen has doubled its population in the past 20 years.

This new chapter will open doors to rapid commercial development, bringing in thousands of new jobs and residents to a city that sits 26 miles north of Dallas. 

The blueprint for this next chapter is already dry with the agents of this change already picked. The Allen EDC and developers working in and around the 121 Corridor will be discussing these transformations at Bisnow's What's Going On Along The 121 event Aug. 15.

Based on impact, job and residential growth and the ability to change the look and vibe of the city, these are three developments expected to alter the face of Allen the most over the next decade. 

One Bethany East at Watters Creek
One Bethany East at Watters Creek

Watters Creek District

The Watters Creek District has grown over the course of the past decade, and remains a key driver for the city of Allen. Offering mixed-use residential, retail, office and hotel development along the 75 Corridor, Watters Creek has been a definite agent of change. 

“Of the developments we see as probably the most significant, probably first and foremost, the Watters Creek District, which is more than just a mixed-use center built back in 2008,” Allen Economic Development Corp. CEO Dan Bowman said. “It has really expanded to encompass the whole area, including the 1M SF Class-A office park on the north side.” 

Bowman said while Watters Creek has been around in some form since 2008, the office component is just now coming into full fruition. 

Developer Kaizen Development Partners broke ground on One Bethany West at Watters Creek this year. The project will add high-quality office product designed by BOKA Powell and built by general contractor Balfour Beatty to the district's offerings. 

"We have two additional office sites up there on the northern side, and when those are built, you are going to have over 1M SF of Class-A office space and easily you may have 4,000-plus employees working there,” Bowman said. 

“This mixed-use development is going to continue to grow. You are going to potentially see more office growth and hotel growth on the south side of that development.”

3 Big Developments Set To Change The Face Of Allen, Texas
Rendering of Howard Hughes' Monarch City

Monarch City 

The Howard Hughes Corp.’s Monarch City master-planned mixed-use development is transforming Allen from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

The 261-acre development at the epicenter of Highways 121 and 75 is flying in the next generation of live, work and play. From residential space to office, retail, entertainment, a central park and the preservation of natural green space, Monarch City is one of The Howard Hughes Corp.’s most ambitious Texas projects. 

“At full build-out, our vision is to create approximately 10M SF of office, residential, retail, restaurant and hospitality space housing roughly 30,000 workers and residents,” Howard Hughes Senior Vice President of Development Mark Bulmash said. “Within the framework, our form-based zoning gives us the advantage to adapt and evolve over time, adjusting our plans to suit market demands and community needs.”

The goal of Monarch City is to offer residential and retail offerings that attract all types of people onto the campus. 

“We know from developments across our portfolio that communities like Monarch City attract a wide-ranging demographic, from empty nesters seeking a quality of life rich in amenities, to millennials looking for a vibrant combination of walkable urbanism in a suburban setting,” Bulmash said. 

“As Allen and the surrounding areas continue to grow and be recognized for providing an outstanding quality of life, there is an increasing need for sought-after jobs,” Howard Hughes Senior Vice President of Development Jim McCaffrey said. “Monarch City will offer a solution for current and future Allen residents to be able to work in the same city where they live alongside terrific, public green space. When people live, work and play in the same area, it minimizes the number of cars it puts on the road.”

The massive development recently cleared a major hurdle that will allow construction to begin within the next year or two. 

“The recent, unanimous approval for Monarch City’s form-based zoning is a key milestone which puts us within reach of kicking off an initial phase,” McCaffrey said. “While we are still formulating a definitive timeline, we could break ground as early as next year, with opening for the first phase following approximately 18 to 24 months after.”

3 Big Developments Set To Change The Face Of Allen, Texas
Rendering of Monarch City in Allen

The goal will be adding modern amenities and lifestyles into Allen without diminishing its picturesque country setting. The green space is expected to be a key component in that.

“The signature feature will be the 20-acre central public park, a key focus of the planning from the very beginning, which will integrate with a network of pocket parks and trails throughout the development,” McCaffrey said. 

Bowman sees the Monarch City park as a game changer for the city. 

“It’s going to be one of the most significant parks, and it’s clearly a differentiator because other mixed-use developments have not [been] taking the park component as seriously … so we are going to do that at a different level,” he said. 

So why did The Howard Hughes Corp. choose Allen for its next large-scale site? For one, the DFW area keeps growing, requiring cities to offer more to their residents, particularly those who want to live and work within a parameter of 10 miles. 

“Dallas-Fort Worth has seen 1 million new jobs or a 33% increase in job creation over the last nine years, which speaks to the demand for a community like Monarch City,” Bulmash said. “In 2018 alone, the region saw the biggest population growth among all U.S. cities, according to Census Bureau data.”

3 Big Developments Set To Change The Face Of Allen, Texas
When developed, The Strand mixed-use development will border State Highway 121 in Allen.

The Strand 

Bowman has his eye on one development that is already planned, but is somewhat in a transitional state, as possibly transformational to Allen.

The Strand, which was begun by Hines, is 135 acres off Alma with zoning in place for 1.5M SF of office and a vibrant mixed-use development, Bowman said. Hines is not currently associated with the project.

Bowman said developers interested in taking the project over have reached out to the Allen EDC. He envisions Class-A office space with visibility from State Highway 121, and there are plans for the mixed-use campus to incorporate a greenbelt with trail connections throughout the rest of Allen. 

“I would say The Strand is certainly one to watch, although it's in transition, so we will wait and kind of see where it winds up,” Bowman said. 

Learn more about activity in Allen and other Highway 121 hot spots Aug. 15.