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Southlake Style

Southlake at the Speed of Business

Oct 28, 2013 10:58AM ● By tina

Flashback: A race car flies down S.H. 114 during ribbon cutting ceremony in 2004.

City View by John Terrell, Mayor of Southlake 

The news lately about some great American cities has been sobering. Detroit declared bankruptcy, and both Chicago and Houston are facing very tough budgeting choices — all because of commitments made in previous years. Parts of those stories are different — such as geography, size and who is owed what — but it doesn't change the bottom line: These cities are in debt to the tune of millions of dollars. They make for clear and sobering reminders that the need for smart, well-planned economic development and strong budgeting has never been greater.

Since 2012, more than 90 new businesses have opened in Southlake. The owners recognize that our city offers a magical combination of elements: a master plan for development, a solid tax base and a city whose elected leaders and residents are committed to quality development. Look around Southlake, and you will find what can happen when economic development is taken seriously. You can also see what happens when a city uses private and public partnerships to leverage resources for the common good. 

In the late ’90s, an innovative vision of building a unique downtown came alive, and now we have Southlake Town Square, a mix of retail, office, residential and public components. Every year, it gets better; we see new additions, and the vision for Town Square becomes even more refined. New stores and businesses are finding homes within the square, and I know that in the coming months and years, we will see many more additions that will help make it complete.

One of the things that have helped make Town Square successful is S.H. 114. I remember when it opened on an extremely cold day back in 2004. The land around the new roadway was still mostly undeveloped, but you could see the potential. Gateway Church has become a cornerstone of our stretch of highway, with thousands of people coming to worship each week. Forest Park Medical Center has opened its doors for business, and Carillon Southlake is offering new residential opportunities alongside Children’s Medical Center. Slowly, and with an eye towards quality, the highway and surrounding area are growing up. And with the completion of the DFW Connector project, S.H. 114 and the opportunity that it represents have become even more important.

Drivers using the Connector roads and frontage roads will also soon be able to use a Texas Turnaround from west S.H. 114 to the north entrances of Town Square. The Southlake Texas 114 Turnaround represents a great example of what can happen when public and private entities get together for the common good. This particular group is made up of the City of Southlake, Gateway Church, Cooper and Stebbins, Inc. (the developer of Southlake Town Square), Tarrant County and TxDOT. All have contributed to the financing of the project. Construction is set to start later this year and should be complete in the spring. I am looking forward to the day it opens to traffic.

Economic development also needs strong investments into public infrastructure. Southlake has done that with a premier park system, strategically placed police and fire stations and a capital improvement plan that is based on a carefully structured master plan. 

Great cities don't just happen overnight. They take careful investment and considerable and consistent planning. In the future, I think you will see a shift in the way cities do business, moving toward sustainable economic development, balanced retail, excellent schools and a sensible mix of new businesses, both large and small. It’s what we are striving for, and I hope that you are as excited as I am about our future.

See you in Southlake. 

John Terrell, vice president of commercial development for DFW Airport, has spent countless volunteer hours in service to the City of Southlake.  He served two terms on the city council prior to becoming elected Southlake's Mayor in 2009 and again in 2012.  Married to wife Joanne and father to two Dragons, the 2012 Southlake Citizen of the Year has called Southlake home for more than 15 years.