RED OAK — The sights and sounds of growth are taking place throughout Red Oak as space for new structures is cleared almost daily. Builders are hard at work creating new homes and buildings for retail and commercial businesses to inhabit.
“I guess, to put in perspective, five to seven years ago if we had one prospect for a business that was a big deal. We were consistently focused on that to make that happen. There was not a lot of housing happening at all,” Red Oak Mayor Alan Hugley said. “Now this is becoming the place to be and developers, businesses, and retailers have figured it out. It was not the best-kept secret because we were trying hard not to keep it a secret. It seems like they have figured it out.”
Hugley said the city has taken several steps to prepare for the future development. This work includes upgrading infrastructure, widening roads to accommodate the additional traffic, addressing several existing city ordinances, and organizing city staff to handle the growth when if it were to arrive. The city staff also continues its efforts to market the community to potential retailers and businesses looking for a new place to call home.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, the City of Red Oak had a population of 12,522 as of July 1, 2016. The city’s population was estimated at 10,762 on April 1, 2010. The census bureau also estimates that the median value of owner-occupied housing units from 2011-15 at $132,900. Housing units in the city totaled 3,987 in 2010.
“In January, I spoke to the chamber and what I said then was that our permits are way, way down, which surprised everyone because we are growing everywhere. I said, 'why do you think that is?' I answered them and said, 'because everything out there that was available to build on is being built on.' It was time for us to work with developers,” Hugley explained. “To that end, in January we had about five significant subdivisions or significant expansions or phases of the ones that have been planned upon. When I talk to them in the first of next year, we are going to be talking about those plus four or five that we were not talking about yet.”
Fuller stated that the city currently has five subdivisions with active construction. Three other subdivisions have been approved but not broken ground at this time. There are also three additional subdivisions that are on the drawing board but have not been by either the planning and zoning commission or city council.
“I pulled into a subdivision, the Woods of Red Oak, that is right off of Methodist Street because I noticed that they just started to put the front masonry wall up,” Hugley stated. “I went in there and counted and there are already 34 houses going up in that subdivision. A lot of them were just the framing, and they already have 'sold' signs in the yard.”
Hugley added that the Camden Park development on Ovilla Road would contain about 165 homes. Along with the houses, there is a senior care facility, bungalows for independent senior living, and a facility for senior memory care.
Hugley stated that city staff has worked hard to bring new retail into the community. City staff has accomplished this objective by making connections with businesses and keeping the city’s name at the forefront of developer minds by attending retail conferences.
One the developments under construction is a retail center located near Ovilla Road and Interstate Highway 35E. The Red Oak City Council approved a multi-tenant building for the development at its Nov. 13 meeting.
The building will be 13,000 square feet and will contain eight to 10 units with construction on the project set to take place within 90 days.
Some of the businesses that will make up the development include Starbucks, AT&T, and Chick-fil-A. The Prosperity Bank Building in the development is currently under construction at this time.
The city will also see a new La Quinta Inn and Suites – Del Sol to be located off of I-35E. The hotel will feature 70 rooms.
According to the La Quinta website, the De Sol model is four stories tall, has attractive landscape and hardscape around the property, pool and courtyard areas, has a roof design that hides solar panels from guest views, and has modern contemporary architecture.
Fuller shared that the city did had not seen an increase in commercial permits, but when the economic downturn hit in 2008, there was never really a significant drop off that some city experienced to substantial degrees. He noted that Red Oak has the advantage of being an emerging market, which is appealing to developers.
In addition to working to create opportunity in Red Oak, city staff has also assessed how the county as a whole can benefit in the long run.
“One of the things that I see for the future and it is not just for Red Oak is for Ellis County. In working with the other communities in trying to provide that access to and from. It has been difficult,” Fuller stated. “The Texas Department of Transportation has been working with us, Waxahachie, and Ennis in trying to create some opportunities to take traffic back and forth between the cities without always having to go U.S. Highway 287 and I-35."