Housing booms on TEXRail commuter line in Dallas-Fort Worth
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS
Matthew Ward leaves his two bedroom townhouse looking sharp in his dark blue pilot’s uniform and with his luggage in tow.
He walks seven minutes to TEXRail Iron Horse Station in North Richland Hills and buys a one-way ticket for $ 2.50 to DFW Airport, where in a few hours he will be at the controls of an Embraer 175 plane heading for Albuquerque .
Ward is one of a growing number of people who not only use the young TEXRail line to get to work, but also make the decision to take a short walk or bike ride to the routes. He bought a neighborhood house last year knowing it would give him an easy, hassle-free commute to work.
Although the number of drivers has only increased gradually since TEXRail opened in 2019 – and the COVID pandemic has kept many passengers out for much of the past year – officials in cities along the line like Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and beyond say Grapevine that they want to build in the long term. Transit-oriented districts around the train stations are still in full swing.
“I think TEXRail was kind of a hidden gem for a while,” said Ward. “I think there are a lot of people who don’t use it, who definitely could.”
Iron Horse & Smithfield stations
The two stations in North Richland Hills in particular are met with great interest from developers. The residents devour the houses and townhouses for sale and pre-rent the well-equipped apartments that are under construction nearby.
The city’s leadership began working on transition-based development concepts in the early 2000s, knowing that it would take decades of effort to complete the projects, said Mayor Oscar Trevino.
“These stations are not built for today. They are built for 10 to 15 years, ”Trevino said at a recent presentation to the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition.
At the city’s Iron Horse Station, in a former industrial and warehouse district north of Loop 820, 158 acres of transit-oriented development is underway.
A development called the Iron Horse Commons involves the construction of 49 single family homes and 115 townhouses built by CB Jeni. The prices for the homes, which are every five to ten minutes’ walk from the train station, range from $ 275,000 to $ 400,000, and the area is 85% expanded.
Across the street from TEXRail, there is a four-story, 300-unit apartment complex known as Cavelli under construction at Iron Horse Station. It will feature amenities like a resort-style pool and dog park and is expected to open later this year.
Later this year, construction of another four-story apartment complex is to begin next to the TEXRail station and is called Iron Horse Villas. It will include 291 units and 11,000 square meters of commercial space in which shops can serve the needs of TEXRail passengers.
North Richland Hills is also promoting the development of 260 acres around Smithfield Station. Four builders are selling homes in the $ 260,000- $ 400,000 range in Urban Trails, a new neighborhood on Mid-Cities Boulevard just a short walk from the train station. A new Keyworth brewery is also expected to open a few blocks from the train station on almost Davis Boulevard, and the Birdville School District is building a new Smithfield Elementary School, slated to open in August.
With TEXRail expected to connect to Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s new Silver Line in three years’ time, TEXRail drivers will have easy access to jobs and entertainment in Dallas and Collin counties, according to Trevino. The agency that operates TEXRail, Trinity Metro, recently reached an agreement with DART to link the two rail lines at a common station outside of DFW Airport Terminal B.
“Many people who come to this area will most likely use this station to get to DFW Airport, Grapevine, and Addison. We created opportunities for people going to Richardson, Plano, ”he said. “This is a start. This is not the end project. “
When TEXRail opened in 2019, the Trinity Metro agency, which operates the rail line, found that it wasn’t just attracting drivers during normal weekday rush hours. One of the busiest driving lessons of each week was a Saturday, and the most popular destination for many travelers was Grapevine Main Station.
The city at the north end of DFW Airport has been a tourist attraction for decades with its historic Main Street shopping district and many resorts like Gaylord Texan and Great Wolf Lodge. However, the opening of the TEXRail station in the city center triggered a new wave of development.
“We conducted some interception surveys and found that a good number of people who ride the trains are from Tarrant County but have never been to Grapevine before,” said PW McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, during a meeting of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition. He added that it is also common for travelers with a long stay at DFW Airport to take the short train ride to Grapevine for a few hours, and that these visitors can often be seen in shops and restaurants with their luggage in tow.
This week, the city is celebrating the grand opening of the Hauptbahnhof, a multi-million dollar development that includes a European-style harvest hall with seven kitchens, a 150-foot observation tower, and a 38,000-square-foot Peace Plaza.
Hotel Vin is also located next to the train station. The six-story Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel opened late last year.
McCallum said Grapevine is also promoting TEXRail as an option for Congressmen to get into his city.
“In today’s world, people want to reduce their carbon footprint when promoting events,” he said. “With the idea that you can fly into DFW and then drive from DFW to Grapevine TEXRail, you can let your attendees and delegates know that you were responsible.”
Further development on the way
The word gets around how easy it is to use TEXRail, especially among those who work in the aviation industry and need quick access to DFW airport.
As Ward boarded the train at Iron Horse Station one early afternoon, a woman in a flight attendant uniform arrived at the station too. Seconds later, a woman in a TSA uniform arrived, probably also on her way to work.
Neither of them seemed to know each other, but they all bought tickets for the same train at 1:07 pm.
“I know a few pilots and flight attendants who live here and do the same,” said Ward, who is originally from Nebraska and moved to North Richland Hills a little over a year ago.
He plans to stay for at least five years and is excited to see how the area develops with more business. He would also like a more frequent service on TEXRail, which runs every half hour during peak mornings and afternoons, but only every hour at lunchtime and at night.
“I see all of these townhouse developments everywhere. It’s like they’re taking every little piece of land they can and building it either for apartments, student housing or townhouses, or for such developments, ”he said. “I can definitely see a lot more of it.”
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Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1997. He’s excited about the hard news coverage. His beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, and business trends. Originally from El Paso, he loves food, football and long car trips.