Rapid growth occurring
By 09/18/2003 00:00:00
Midlothian, Red Oak areas expect to see population explosion
The Ellis County Press
MIDLOTHIAN - More people are moving to western Ellis County.
A lot more. The housing market in both Midlothian and the Red Oak areas, according to analysts, is still healthy, despite a sluggish economy and higher foreclosure rates.
And with lower mortgage rates and an increase in home resales, analysts predict population growth to increase yearly.
Because the resale conditions, home prices are also expected to decrease by 18 percent.
'We're seeing a positive curve upward [in population],' said Bob Templeton, a demographer
who briefed a newly created Growth Management Committee in the Midlothian Independent School District.
Templeton said 37,000 new home 'starts' have contributed $7.62 billion into the local economy, much of that being in Collin County near Plano and Frisco.
But, Templeton continued, the growth is coming south more than ever.
According to the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a regional governing body, the areas between Interstate Highway 35 in Red Oak to Highway 287 in Midlothian are expected to see a population explosion of 70,000 residents.
Midlothian, Templeton said, is poised for the highest growth rate, with 400-plus home starts last year.
'Midlothian is on pace to see 400-plus in 2003,' he said. 'That's a sign of a healthy market.'
So the question most often asked is, why are so many people moving here?
Two main reasons, according to Templeton and his firm's figures, are access to utilities and cheap, available land.
'National builders will gravitate to where the utilities are,' he said. 'There's quite a bit of land available for development [in western Ellis County].'
Choice Homes, a national homebuilder, currently holds a share of 40 percent of the overall housing construction market in the MISD; other cities vary, however.
The land prices are also cheaper compared to Far North Dallas and Plano/Frisco, Templeton said, which makes for a good combination for growth.
Currently, the MISD sees an average of 350 to 400 new students a year, but it could jump to 1,000 if the current growth projections are right.
'Midlothian is in a situation in which it can see a 17 percent growth rate,' Templeton said. 'That almost doubled overnight.'
Many of the homes under construction now are located near Ovilla and the unincorporated areas east of Midlothian - most houses are what Templeton called 'starter homes,' or 'entry-level' houses.
'If builders [of entry-level homes] pulled the trigger on 200 acres, it would take two years to make an impact,' he said. 'Price range is critical for age and families moving in.'
However, the job growth issue is the factor holding down overall economic growth, Templeton said.
'In order to maintain [economic growth], we have to see positive job growth. DFW led the nation in the late 90s with 120,000 jobs a year [average],' he said.
Typically, the unemployment rate is lower in Ellis County than the major cities; Dallas is currently at a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, with Ellis County hovering around 6 percent, Templeton said.
The Growth Management Committee was formed to give MISD residents a look into the future; after a failed $100 million bond election in March, school district officials needed something to convince people of what's about to take place.
'We've already known about this,' said Midlothian school board trustee Duke Burge. 'Basically, we use this [committee] to see what we did wrong.'
Trustee Ronnie Russell, who lives near the border of Ovilla and eastern Midlothian, said the presentations by the demographers were new to him, but the population expectancies were not.
'We're starting at ground level,' he said. 'This will show us where we need to go as far as bond elections go.'
Though the committee was formed separate from any bond election campaign group, the people appointed to the group are no strangers to supporting another bond election.
'You'll learn more here [committee meetings] than in the last bond,' said Trustee Dirk Younts. 'This is like a Who's Who list.'
Growth Management Committee
‘Who's Who List'
Midlothian ISD school board member said a Who's Who's list of people were selected for the district's Growth Management Committee; a sample of those community leaders are listed below.
Danny Rodgers, Citizens National Bank President, Midlothian branch
Maurice Osborn, former Midlothian mayor, current TXI official
Stewart Breyer, retired North Texas Cement official
Sid Kuykendall, local developer
Joe Crucia, TXI tax manager
Bill Turner, Ovilla mayor
Marvin Pender, former Midlothian planning and zoning commissioner