CLEBURNE, Texas — The mayor of this city about a half-hour south of Fort Worth predicts the population is on track to double as developers build 1,000 new homes.
“Frisco planned for the growth really well, but they didn’t figure out how to maintain that small-town feel," said Mayor Scott Cain. "My hope is in 10 years we still have that small-town feel but with that growth that is inevitably coming."
Cleburne is experiencing a renaissance.
“There are five [new houses] there–excuse me, six there–and then this one over here,” said Grady Easdon, Cleburne's economic development manager, as he looked out on a new development called Belle Lagos on the city’s southwest side.
Cleburne is planning 1,000 new homes in the next two years. More than 300 are already under construction.
The city offered incentives to developers to spur the new subdivisions, and for the first time, got national homebuilders like D.R. Horton to come to town.
One-thousand new houses in Cleburne is a game changer, Easdon said.
“With 1,000 new rooftops, and you figure three plus people per household, that’s going to add a lot to our population and of course our tax base,” he said.
“Just a little over year ago, maybe right at a year ago, this was just pasture land,” Easdon said while at Cross Creek Estates, another subdivision a mile or so away. "Bare dirt."
D.R. Horton built 68 new homes, and all but one has sold.
But why Cleburne? And why now?
“Before the tollway came it was over an hour to get to downtown Fort Worth," Cain said. "Now it’s 25 minutes. So, it’s a game changer for Cleburne and all of Johnson County."
The Chisolm Trail Parkway stretches 27 miles, beginning in Fort Worth and ending in Cleburne.
“We’re still just rural enough that you get out of the metroplex just a touch," said Greg Patterson, co-owner of Raintree Homes, Inc. "Our prices have been traditionally just a little less than the Metroplex so you still get good value for your house down here."
That local development company is expanding its Belle Meadows subdivision. On a street that was once in a cow pasture, 34 new houses are weeks away from being built. Patterson and his brother, Jeff, are putting places on both sides of the street and they have room on this parcel for 200 more.
It's just one of several big developments underway in this city right now.
“As many as we can build we can sell and everybody asks us to build more so we do what we can,” said Jeff Patterson.