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Let’s start with the numbers.
More than 70,000 people a year are moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Most of them are coming to North Texas to take the thousands of new jobs being created here each year.
The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that more than 130,000 jobs were added in D-FW in the 12 months ended in April. Most of the migrants are young folks in their 20s and early 30s. Most of them want to rent apartments, not buy homes.
So we need apartments — lots and lots of apartments.
Builders are on board with that plan. They are constructing more apartments here than anyplace in the country.
More than 30,000 apartments are currently being developed in the D-FW area — most near employment centers in the central city and the northern suburbs. Developers want to build even more, but communities are increasingly pushing back against that plan.
Stop by any suburban city planning commission meeting where there’s an apartment project on the agenda, and you’re likely to see ranks of sour-faced residents there to make their pitch against more rental units.
We’ve heard it all before — more traffic, more crime, more everything that’s bad for the community.
Never mind that we have to figure out a way to house thousands and thousands of people moving here to take new jobs.
Never mind that homeownership is increasingly out of the reach of young workers burdened with student debt.
Recently I sat in on a Frisco planning commission meeting where property owners were seeking to rezone land on the Bush Turnpike right across the street from Toyota’s huge North American headquarters.
Apartments were just one part of their proposal for a mixed-use development. But that’s what triggered the most critics of the deal on one of our area’s busiest freeways.
Developer Sam Ware, who’s rebuilding the old J.C. Penney headquarters complex in Plano’s Legacy business park, sought zoning for apartments as part of his mixed-use redevelopment. Ware is turning the old Penney offices into a multitenant business center. And he wants to build additional offices, retail, hotel rooms and apartments on the surrounding land.
The Penney headquarters is smack in the middle of one of North Texas’ biggest employment centers with more than 20,000 new jobs being added to the area. Employers who are moving to these new business campuses all say the same thing — they want new apartments, retail and restaurants nearby.
They call it "work, live and play," and it’s the driver for developments like the $3 billion Legacy West and the huge CityLine complex in Richardson with 10,000 State Farm Insurance workers.
Legacy West, which surrounds the Penney headquarters, already has retail and hundreds of apartments to serve workers flooding the area for Toyota, Liberty Mutual Insurance, FedEx Office, JPMorgan Chase and others.
But Ware got so much pushback from Plano residents about adding luxury apartments to his project that at the last minute he pulled the zoning request — the original plan was to add some 1,000 apartments.
Ware said his project "is one of the few places in D-FW where we can have work, play, live.
"Why it is not fully embraced is shocking and disappointing."
It’s also going to increasingly be a problem in a metro area where the population is expected to top 10 million by 2030. That’s more than 2 million more people who will need a place to live.
More than 40 percent of residents in the D-FW area are renters. So we’ll need rental units for almost 800,000 people.
Where are we going to put the apartments?
"Not in my backyard" is not an answer.