The current concept plan calls for 6,000 apartments – 1,000 of which are age-restricted for seniors – as well as 3,000 single-family homes, 6-8 million square feet of commercial space, a resort hotel, grocery store, corporate headquarters, hospitals, parks and schools.
Forrest, 63, envisions the 30- to 40-year-old development as a place where residents can live, work, eat, shop and play, all without leaving Forrest’s farm.
Forest and Flower Mound City Manager James Childers said the Forest and Flower Mound team are working together on the agreements. A consultant has been appointed by the city and a feasibility study is being conducted to see if TIRZ would be a good idea.
Forrest said that if/when those agreements are approved, the focus will then shift to adding and improving facilities and infrastructure in the area. The property “will develop naturally from west to east.” The Town and Furst will also commence recruitment of commercial tenants and corporate transition into the development.
Roads, water and sanitation will be brought in or developed in time to meet demand and keep pace with development. Forrest said he will be patient to make sure all the infrastructure is done right before any building starts.
This land has no debts. Therefore, there is no reason to rush this important part of the project. “Slow is fast,” Forrest said.
In terms of future stores, Forrest knows the community would love to have HEB. “We sat with them and they loved our site.” However, he couldn’t make any promises about landing the HEB but said, “We’ll get a good grocer.” Forrest added, “When that starts to converge, we’ll start thinking about what we want to do on the residential side.”
Thirty percent of the land will be open space with 12 miles of trails. “When you have this much land, it’s a new canvas that paints exactly what you want in terms of quality development, open space and facilities,” he said. “We have to get every square inch of it right.”
The development is entirely located within the rapidly growing Argyle ISD and Furst has set aside 50 acres for a new Primary and Middle School.
Councilman Jim Engel, who voted in favor of the rezoning application, said Forest Ranch “will provide some much-needed services to residents who live in West Flower Mound.”
Many of the residents’ concerns about the project revolve around traffic and infrastructure, but Engel believes that the expansion of Interstate 377 and the future expansion of I-35W will alleviate some of the traffic issues, and there will be plenty of time for the city to address other similar issues, even before they arise. “This project will not come overnight,” Engel said. “The infrastructure will be there.”
Many residents opposed the apartments, but Forrest said they were important to attracting commercial development, and Engel noted that they were essential when trying to set corporate headquarters to move to Forest Ranch.
“Jack Forrest is moving towards large corporate relocations, and when you compete for those relocations, you must have benefits or existing multi-family housing within 3-5 miles,” Engel said. “Unless you have these apartments, you don’t even think about it. It would be nice if the city had a corporate headquarters in Forest Ranch.”
The apartments will be phased in on a forrest basis to introduce new commercial space. The zoning law says that Forest has 100,000 square feet of commercial space before he can build the first 1,700 apartments. After that, he can earn one apartment for every 1,000 square feet of commercial space added, up to a maximum of 5,000 apartments.
Upon construction, Forrest estimated that the business tax base for the project would be in the $5 billion range. It is also estimated that Forest Ranch is expected to be home to more than 20,000 people over the next 40 years.
Read more about Jack Furst and the history of Furst Ranch at www.crosstimbersgazette.com/tag/furst-ranch.