Work finally under way on massive Arlington development

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 17 at 7:29 PM

ARLINGTON — Progress took decades, but one of the last large undeveloped tracts of land in Tarrant County is on the verge of changing.

The Viridian development in Arlington is finally taking shape, and if all goes as planned, thousands of people will call it home some day — and local governments will see a lot more tax dollars.

Dinosaurs roamed the far north Arlington site along the Trinity River 95 million years ago. To the City of Arlington, it might have seemed it would take that long to develop this last large piece of raw land in the city.

Mayor Robert Cluck recalls the frustration. "We've had three different attempts to develop this property; none of them worked," he said. "This one will work."

Developer Huffines Communities broke ground on the 2,300-acre site it will build out with private money over the next 10 to 15 years. About 15,000 people will live at the Viridian development when finished, roughly bordered by Trinity Boulevard on the north; Highway 360 on the east; Green Oaks Boulevard on the south; and North Collins Street to the west.

Huffines plans a mix of offices, retail and housing with homes running from $250,000 to $2 million.

The first of 3,600 single-family homes will start going in next spring, and developer Robert Kembel believes they'll be in demand because of location.

"Here's a site that every major employment corridor in the Metroplex, we can get to a 30-minute commute," he said, adding: "That's unheard of."

Huffines will also add apartments and condos to the housing mix.

Although the site is on a flood plain, specially-built lakes and higher excavation are designed to keep homes and buildings dry.

The city, county and HEB school district formed a tax reinvestment zone to funnel money back into the development to cover infrastructure costs as taxes rise from higher values.

The site is already going up in value. In 2008, it appraised at $18 million on the tax rolls. Now it's at $60 million, and forecast to hit $200 million in 2014 at completion of the first building phase — and that doesn't include commercial construction.

Mayor Cluck calls it a way to develop a win for all.

"Lots of residential, lots of commercial... just what we need," he said.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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