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Flood Of ‘Parasitic’ Retail Growth Could Flow Into Collin County As Rooftops Multiply

Retail construction is once again at record-low levels across the Metroplex, though four high-growth suburbs could buck that trend in the coming years.

New builds will flourish in Celina, Anna, Princeton and Prosper as retailers rush to meet the needs of rapidly growing communities, Weitzman’s just-released midyear report says. Already, major brands like H-E-B and Costco have set their sights on the northern suburbs of Collin County as residential growth rates surge into the double and triple digits.

Celina will soon be home to several new retail developments.

“Collin County has no doubt been the leader of rooftops, retail, corporate headquarters and entertainment hubs,” Weitzman Executive Managing Director Bob Young said. “Prosper, Anna, Celina and Princeton are inheriting the growth legacy that the Planos and McKinneys have been the beneficiaries of.” 

Collin County’s population increased by 100,000 residents between 2016 and 2021, making it the fastest-growing county in North Texas, per Local Profile. Much of that growth has been concentrated in its peripheral cities, such as Celina, which saw a population increase of 104% between 2020 and 2022, according to the Census Bureau.

There are about 41,000 people living in Celina, which is about 42 miles north of Downtown Dallas. The city was home to 6,000 people in 2010.

The Creeks at Celina is under construction next to The Creeks of Legacy, a residential project that is slated to include 1,000 new homes at full build-out, per Weitzman. The retail project offers four multitenant buildings spanning 36K SF.

Another mixed-use project, the 100-acre Crossing at Moore Farm, will be anchored by Lowe’s Home Improvement and is set to debut in Celina in late 2024. 

“The equation can be translated into simple math,” Young said of Celina’s success. “Retail is parasitic to rooftops.”

A focus on small businesses has been advantageous for Celina as consumers evolve to favor smaller-format tenants over massive corporate brands like the ill-fated Tuesday Morning and Bed Bath & Beyond.

“We love small businesses and we love entrepreneurs — ultimately that is what makes us slightly different from other cities,” former City Manager Jason Laumer told Bisnow in a previous interview. “Nothing against national tenant retail — we like them — but they don’t really make you different.”

The growth of retail in cities like Celina has been profound, but Young said the northern suburbs aren’t immune to the tight debt market and rising costs that are impacting the acceleration of supply. If those factors were removed, construction would be even heartier, Young said.

“Rooftops are the heartbeat of the retail that follows,” he said. “The difference now is that the rooftops are happening so quickly, and then you take the capital markets [factors] we can’t control, and certain new development products are not penciling out.”

But the northern suburbs are outliers when examining DFW as a whole. For the third year in a row, construction across the Metroplex fell below the 1M SF mark as elevated land and material costs keep developers from building new space.

Weitzman expects 641K SF of new retail space to be delivered this year, which is more than the 538.7K SF added to the market in 2022 but still a far cry from the 4M SF constructed in 2017. 

A dearth of new space is driving up rents at available storefronts and keeping market occupancy at an all-time high of 94.5%, per Weitzman. 

Young said he doesn’t expect much to change between now and next year. There is a lag when it comes to analyzing retail data since it takes so long to get new projects up and running, he said. That, paired with next year’s presidential election, should keep the firm’s development outlook conservative for the foreseeable future.

“You’ll see the same song — just another verse,” he said.