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Allen becoming 'much more central' with surge in new residential construction

Projects in northern suburbs are helping Allen become a destination for commuters.
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Substantial new Class A office space hitting the market in Allen is giving the city sites to offer corporate tenants that previously had no choices within the city, said Dan Bowman, executive director of the Allen Economic Development Corp.

Highlands Residential Mortgage recently announced a decision to relocate its headquarters from Dallas to Allen, where it will become the first tenant at One Bethany West at Watters Creek, bringing 115 jobs to the city. Allen has seen a 36 percent increase in financial services jobs over the past three years, according to the EDC.

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The Allen EDC recently announced that Allen has completed $500 million in new commercial projects in the past two years. There's more space in the pipeline, as Allen has 9 million square feet of Class A office space planned.

Allen’s One Bethany West is the third of five planned Class A office projects in the new complex. Two more build-to-suit development sites are available.

In the interview that follows, Bowman discusses movement in the North Texas market, the building environment in Allen and overall business growth in the city.

Does there seem to be more movement within the market overall?

Allen did not have a Class A corporate office base until we came up here and started building the NetScout building, OneBethany East, One Bethany West. Frankly, this product didn’t exist here around Watters Creek, where we now have all this mixed-use.

When you didn’t have the product, you physically were limited in that you could not see these companies that maybe otherwise would already have been in this area because this is where their workforce is. They couldn’t move because they didn’t have space.

Are more Dallas companies moving to the suburbs?

I don’t necessarily see a trend of it just being a Dallas-to-the-suburbs type thing. You’re seeing a lot of east-west migration between suburbs as companies that are already in suburban locations move from, say, this area over to the Tollway or from the Tollway this way. You see some north-and-south migration as well.

In the case of Highlands Residential, they were already located in far North Dallas and had a workforce that was located up in the Allen-McKinney area. Talent and workforce drive pretty much everything these days. So, when you do a scatter diagram of where their employees live, it just made sense for them to be up in the Allen area.

How is the surge of new residential construction to the north affecting corporations’ relocation decisions within the market?

With a lot of the new housing being built even further north than Allen in areas like Celina, Little Elm, Van Alstyne, Anna, you’re just seeing a lot of the population growth further to the north, which makes areas like Allen much more central.

You saw the same thing with the Legacy area (in Plano). Watters Creek is now becoming a destination where people who are now living even further north are commuting down into the big cities, and to some extent Allen is growing into that central area. We’ll continue to see that in the future.

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