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The New Horizon: Projects coming to Rockwall County in 2018

A drone’s eye view of Rockwall County. Photo by Danny Siminiuk, SulpoVAR, LLC.

(ROCKWALL, TX — January 5, 2018) Rockwall County continues to be among the fastest growing counties not only in the state of Texas, but across the nation. And why not? Rockwall bolsters a top-notch school district, unique places to shop and eat, and a vast open space system featuring 990 total acres of park land with 20 developed parks and seven greenbelts. As the new year approaches, folks can expect to see even more exciting developments popping up in and around the county. Here’s a look at some of those big projects making headway in 2018.

City of Rockwall
Dirt continues to be turned in areas all around Rockwall, bringing even more places to eat, shop, work and play to the community. Currently under construction is a 7,420-square-foot Texas Roadhouse located adjacent to the new Rooms to Go on the I-30 Frontage Road. The restaurant will seat approximately 280 patrons with 162 parking spaces. On Dec. 12, the Rockwall Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the site plan for a new drive through only Chick-fil-A restaurant at the corner of Yellow Jacket Lane and State Highway 205 where the old EZ Mart and Pizza Hut buildings sit. The 2,200 square-foot restaurant would have no inside seating available, with the applicant proposing a walk-up window with around five tables on the patio to accommodate seating for 20 people. The proposed drive through would be able to queue 19 total vehicles, with exits available on both Yellow Jacket and 205.

More condos and residential units are currently in the works for The Harbor, including the new Harbor Urban Center Apartments – a four-story luxury community with 228 total units located on a 2.14-acre tract on the southeast corner of Summer Lee Drive and Horizon Road. According to a recent article in Dallas Business Journal, amenities to the community include a rooftop garden with views of Lake Ray Hubbard, a fitness center, business center with an internet café and coffee bar, a couple of courtyards with outdoor kitchens, and cabana-style seating with fire pits and televisions. Construction is slated to begin at the end of December, with an estimated completion in October 2019.

Cinemark 12 located at The Harbor will break ground this year on their 7,340-square-foot expansion, which will include additional screens, XD Digital Cinema, and a lobby bar and lounge. The existing theaters will also get a facelift: leather reclining seats. Photo by BRN Media.

The Cinemark 12 Rockwall at The Harbor is also slated for an expansion of 7,430 square feet to accommodate two additional screens, including the new XD Digital Cinema. A new lobby bar and lounge area are also in the works, along with a remodel of the existing theaters to include leather recliner-type seating.

With the substantial population and tax base growth the city has seen in the last decade, Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt said the challenge will be in continuing to bring in new commercial businesses to Rockwall to lessen the tax burden on citizens.

“The city collected more than $16 million in sales tax last year because Rockwall citizens pride themselves in shopping at home, as well as gaining support from neighboring communities,” Pruitt said. “Rockwall offers unique experiences that appeal to a variety of customers. Those who shop locally help build our sales tax base, which allows the city to provide quality services and amenities. The City of Rockwall will continuously endeavor to keep taxes low and increase revenue through smart financial policies.”

For a complete list of site plans for current projects in Rockwall visit sites.google.com/site/rockwallplanning/site-plans/2017.

Rockwall Technology Park
The Rockwall EDC continues to strive to meet the goals lined out in its strategic plan of attracting high quality, sustainable industries that have the capital expenditure to help diversify the tax base and bring in more jobs.

One of the largest buildings in Rockwall is expected to break ground in the spring of 2018 – the massive 650,000-square-foot Lollicup USA manufacturing plant located on 35 acres in the Rockwall Technology Park. Lollicup USA manufactures and distributes Karat® paper and plastic disposable foodservice packaging products. It also supplies Tea Zone® beverage products for thousands of retail business accounts, including several Fortune 500 restaurant franchises. The $50 million project will bring 200 jobs and is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Pegasus Foods, a major manufacturer of frozen foods for restaurant brands and supermarkets, continues renovations on its 125,000-square-foot facility located at 1635 Innovation Drive in the Technology Park. The project is estimated to be completed within the first quarter of the new year and in the long term will more than 300 jobs to Rockwall.

The Rockwall EDC saw a great turnout at its first annual Job Fair on Dec. 1, a free event featuring 10 companies looking to hire within the city of Rockwall. Local companies in healthcare, manufacturing, packaging and logistics took applications and conducted candidate screenings and interviews with a total of 450 job seekers during the successful event.

Rockwall ISD
The school district will see the completion and grand opening of two major bond projects in the fall of 2018 – the new Dobbs Elementary School and the Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy.

The oldest elementary school in Rockwall will open the doors to its new two-story, 92,000-square-foot building to 765 students. The layout of the new Dobbs Elementary has a similar look to that of the old Dobbs building, and will even incorporate some of the salvaged material from the old school building into the new design.

Beginning in August 2018, high school students from Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath will have the opportunity to explore career options and professional certifications with the opening of the Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy. Located off of John King Boulevard between highways 205 and 276, the academy will offer programs of study for students in a wide variety of career fields, including architecture; health services; finance; business management; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); marketing; audio/video technology; law; hospitality; culinary arts; and technology applications.

Click here for a complete list of bond projects by facility within Rockwall ISD.

City of Heath
The year 2018 looks to be an exciting one for the City of Heath development wise, with a plethora of shopping, retail, and office space being planned for the area.

Coming to the intersection of FM 740 and Laurence Drive across from the Shell Station will be a Tom Thumb grocery store surrounded by 21,000 square feet of retail space. The store will encompass 55,000 square feet, and also include a 1,200-square-foot gas station. The city estimates dirt to start turning on the project in early spring of 2018.

This concept art illustrates the plans for the Heath Hub, a new dining and entertainment venue that will be located on 2.5 acres of the retail-zoned site at the northwest corner of FM 740 and FM 1140. Photo courtesy of the City of Heath.

Infrastructure is currently being installed on the highly-anticipated Heath Hub development, a new dining and entertainment venue that will be located on 2.5 acres of the retail-zoned site at the northwest corner of FM 740 and FM 1140. The owners of Heath Hub are Gus Antos, Elias Pope and Neville Govender, who also own and operate HG Sply Co. in Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as Standard Service, which recently opened in Rockwall. The project will center around a full-service signature restaurant with an outdoor gathering space of approximately 5,000 square feet used for covered dining, live music and special events. An additional 30,000 square feet of office space is designated for the area directly behind the CVS.

Projected Timeline:
*Infrastructure Ground Breaking – by December 30, 2017
*Restaurant/Hub Ground Breaking – four months after infrastructure ground breaking
*Pre-Opening Job Training – 10 months after restaurant/Hub ground breaking
*Grand Opening – 12 months after restaurant/Hub ground breaking

A recent news report on the City of Heath website stated that TxDOT will begin work on their FM 550 and FM 549 shoulder and overlay project on Jan. 2, 2018. The project also includes a new traffic signal at Country Club Drive and FM 3097 (Horizon Road). The report states that the FM 549 and FM 550 improvements will go from the FM 549/FM 550/FM 740 intersection to State Highway 205, and that shoulder and overlay work will be installed in mile sections to minimize the impact on traffic. Estimated completion date for both roads and the Country Club Drive traffic signal is February 2020, with the signal being installed in the early portion of the project.

The report also stated a similar project on FM-1140 (Smirl Drive), from the FM 1140/Hubbard Drive/FM 740 intersection to FM 740 near the CVS, has a scheduled start date in the summer of 2018. As for the widening of FM 740, TxDOT notified the city that due to rain, the switching of the traffic to all four lanes has been rescheduled for Jan. 4, according to the report. Weather permitting, the work to perform the switch will begin after Amy Parks-Heath Elementary School and Rockwall-Heath High School students have arrived in the morning and are in class.

City of Fate
Visitors to downtown Fate will begin to see major changes as we move through 2018. The Fate city council developed a plan to create quality vertical mixed use developments to make a walkable gathering place for residents to live, work and play that includes boutique store fronts and restaurants, while also making financially productive economic development. Another unique planned development in the works is Montarra, located off of FM 3549 just west of the Woodcreek subdivision. The development will be designed with homes valued at more than $300k, as well as townhomes and a community garden with a full-time farmer.

The city council also approved a $6.8-million-dollar investment on road repairs and construction during their meeting on Dec. 4. Several projects included are the reconstruction of the railroad crossing at Riding Club Road, Ben Payne Road and at the FM 551/HWY 66 intersection. Read more about the road projects here: blueribbonnews.com/2017/12/6-8-million-dollars-approved-for-fate-roads/.

Fate Mayor Lorne Megyesi said it might surprise people to know that for every $100 collected in property tax, the school district receives $57*, Municipal Utility District taxes receive $18* and Rockwall County receives $14*. The City of Fate receives the least, at just $11* on every $100 of property tax collected (*comparison for Woodcreek, Rockwall ISD, MUD 1).

“This is why citizens of Fate together with city council and staff developed smart practices in the 2015 Comprehensive Plan. Property tax dollars on single family homes are not adequate for maintaining roads and infrastructure to the standard in which Fate residents would like to live. Instead, we need to maximize the tax base by building mixed use development. These goals will be executed with the development in the new downtown, neighborhoods like Montarra, and the development of the Interstate 30 corridor,” Megyesi said.

Royse City
Royse City continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in the county, with 17 new businesses opening within the past year and a projected 18 new businesses planned for the Fiscal Year 2018.

In October 2017, Clarence Jorif came before the Royse City CDC to present his plans for a 60,000-square-foot elite tactical training facility he plans to build in the city called The Compound at Royse City. According to the minutes from the meeting, the complex will accommodate civilians and law enforcement, and include a retail area, fingerprinting services, virtual tactical simulation theatres, 25-yard firing lanes and six 100-yard firing lanes, a mat room, classrooms, locker rooms and a café lounge.

A proposed $12-million baseball stadium will be home to the new Royse City Griffins of the Southwest League of Professional Baseball. The Ballpark at Royse City will be located across from I-30 near Royse City High School and will have a maximum seating capacity of 4,000. Former Texas Rangers infielder Elliot “Bump” Wills was named the manager of the Griffins in August 2017. The Southwest League recently announced that it has pushed back the opening date for its inaugural season one year to April 2019. The league had previously announced that it would start the inaugural season in April 2018 with six member cities. The Southwest League will play a 112-game schedule – 56 home games and 56 road games.

The city will welcome a beautiful master planned community in Mira Vista, with features including an elegant entrance, classic landscaping, a koi pond, and 29 treed lots surrounding a lake at the focal point of the neighborhood. Currently 16 of the 29 lots are in the planning stages for the community.

The Sonoma Verde development recently welcomed two new home builders in CastleRock Homes and Highland Homes. Phase II of the development will add 213 lots to the master planned community featuring wide open spaces, man-made catch and release lakes with fountains, and a large amenities center which includes a community pool, kids park, sand volleyball court, basketball court, tennis court and fishing pond, with more amenities to come.

Steadfast Growth
The county saw tremendous growth in each of its municipalities this past year, with more growth anticipated over the course of the new year as folks continue to choose Rockwall as their place to live, work and play. Rooftops drive retail, and according to County Judge David Sweet, that’s the primary reason for the healthy economic development seen in Rockwall over the past couple of years.

“Rockwall continues to be a destination location,” Sweet said. “The county population is expected to reach nearly 100,000 people over this next year, and that’s not by accident. People are choosing to live, work and play in Rockwall County. One thing that separates us from all the other counties is that each one of the cities in our county continues to experience substantial growth in all areas, and that’s a big deal.”

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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