Little Towns With Big Appeal: Little Elm
With more miles of shoreline (close to 70) than any other North Texas city, the real estate opportunities in Little Elm can hold water.
And though the town’s 35,000 residents are largely commuters working in nearby Frisco or Denton, the city’s EDC is working to develop enough retail and entertainment to make this lake town a year-round destination.
The Army Corps of Engineers completed a dam creating Lewisville Lake in 1954, but it wasn't until Little Elm’s population surge in the early 2000s that many developers took notice of the real estate potential of the land adjacent to the lake.
The city’s biggest development is a three-phase mixed-use project owned by the city and the EDC. The first phase of the Lakefront District (sitting on Lewisville Lake where it runs parallel to Eldorado Parkway) is open with Hula Hut restaurant (below), Hydrous Wake Park, Towers Tap House and more.
The second phase of the project will be developed by Palladium Development on the northwest corner of Eldorado Parkway and Main Street. It will have 6k SF of retail (including a rooftop bar overlooking the water) and 242 units of multifamily.
The final phase of 20 acres was just awarded to Palladium in an RFQ and will have up to 400 multifamily units, 40k SF of retail and a hotel. This last phase is a four-year build-out plan, EDC executive director Jennette Killingsworth said.
With Cottonwood Creek Marina and Beard Park, the development already has strong ties to water entertainment, but Killingsworth wants Little Elm to offer off-season entertainment too. “We want to make sure we’re capitalizing on the lake and its opportunity as a destination, but we need to draw people in during the winter with other entertainment options,” she told us.
Unlike towns such as Addison that swell during business hours and shrink on evenings and weekends, Little Elm’s population hops on the Tollway every morning to drive to work. A commuter population can make daytime business for restaurants and services tough to capture, Killingsworth said.
But opening one-of-a-kind concepts helps draw in retail dollars from residents and out-of-towners, Little Elm director of development services Jason Laumer said. Businesses like Belfour Spirits distillery and Flix Brewhouse (above) will encourage just that.
Update: Jan. 6, 4:45 CT: The top image has been replaced with a more updated plan for Little Elm's Lakefront District.