East-West Line thru Plano, Richardson, North Dallas, Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, Cypress Waters, DFW Airport
Completion Date – December 22, 2022
Trains every 20 minutes
The final approved DART Cotton Belt Line from Plano to DFW Airport
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit board on Tuesday approved $872 million to build its first east-west commuter rail line — the Cotton Belt — even though it doesn't have the actual cash quite yet. DART leaders met with the Build America Bureau in Washington, D.C., last week to confirm that the federal loan that will finance a 26-mile route connecting Plano, Richardson, Addison, North Dallas and DFW International Airport is expected to close Dec. 20. Within the next few weeks, DART expects to be issued a notice to move forward on the project with its design-build partner, Archer Western Herzog 4.0, which was unanimously awarded an $815 million contract Tuesday night, contingent on the federal loan. The contract will run through Dec. 28, 2022, the anticipated completion date.
It also kept the door open for the board to decide next month whether to spend an additional $90 million to $120 million to add a second track along the line, something the board listed as a preference. "We've discussed the double-track subject for a couple of years," board member Paul Wageman said. "We're going to have significant savings over what we thought the finance costs were on this." Cotton Belt was budgeted as a $1.1 billion project.
About half of the project, including the nine rail stations, is double-tracked as currently bid. Though plans are for Cotton Belt to debut as an every-30-minute service, the contract also calls for three more miles to be double-tracked. That would enable enough two-way passing opportunities to allow runs every 20 minutes. If it doesn't fully double-track the line, the board also has the option to spend $27 million to add a second track to a three-mile area of Far North Dallas, where grade levels and four bridge crossings pose a challenge.
The contract already includes $32 million in "betterments" for neighborhoods lining the route, providing for sound walls, rubber chips to minimize track vibration and other amenities. The first six to eight months, according to staff presentations, will focus on design of the project. The first signs of progress on the ground will be utility relocation and foundation work for bridges.
The Cotton Belt will also connect to DART's existing light rail system at stops in Carrollton, Plano and Richardson. But it will be a commuter rail line, similar to the Trinity River Express, which DART co-owns with Fort Worth's Trinity Metro and connects downtown Dallas and Fort Worth.
It's no secret that Dallas' home market has a winter chill.Home sales have slowed, along with the rate of home price increase in North Texas.The market changes have put Dallas on Realtor.com's list of the 10 cities hit hardest by a housing slowdown."In the last few months, the real estate market has actually begun slowing down. including in some of the big cities that have been leading the go-go post-recession housing boom," according to a report on the website. "To be clear, prices aren't always dropping in these places, which are predominantly located on the West Coast."Mostly, they're decelerating, coming back down to earth."
Realtor.com based its rankings on a year-over-year rise in home price markdowns, increases in listings and changes in overall list prices."There's a rebalancing that needs to happen," Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, told Realtor.com. "Prices have risen so high in some of these markets that it's very tough from an affordability perspective [for buyers]. ... It's not surprising to me that we're seeing a little bit of a leveling off."
Median home prices in North Texas are still up about 5 percent compared with 2017 levels. But that's a much smaller number than the double-digit annual gains seen in recent years. Home list prices in the Dallas area are down 1.4 percent from a year ago, and the number of listings has grown 15 percent year over year, according to Realtor.com
The declines in D-FW home sales and slower price appreciation are having a bigger impact on consumers' attitudes than their pocketbooks, analysts said. "I am more concerned about the psychological impact of not-so-rosy housing news than I am about the actual underlying fundamentals of the housing market in the Dallas-Fort Worth market," said Daren Blomquist, top economist with Attom Data Solutions. "Certainly the data shows that the market has gotten somewhat overheated and is due for a slowdown, but that slowdown should just be a chance for the market to catch its breath rather than a trigger a panic attack. "Jobs and people are still moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in large numbers, which ultimately should keep demand for housing solid," Blomquist said. "But the psychology of the market is more of a wild card and could result in a bigger slowdown or correction."
North Texas home sales would be higher if there were more moderately priced properties up for grabs, Paige Shipp of housing analyst Metrostudy Inc. said. "I believe the 1 percent decrease in sales this year is due to the lack of homes on the market below $200,000, not a lack of buyers," Shipp said. "D-FW has strong job and population growth, which equates to demand for homes. "However, the increasing interest rates have exposed the fact that D-FW buyers cannot all afford homes priced above $400,000, she said.
Not so fast with the gloomy forecasts for Dallas' housing economy. Yes, the local home market appears to be cooling after years of scorching hot sales. And some analysts have suggested there's a Dallas home price bubble getting ready to burst. But a new forecast by Zillow says the market is likely to outperform the rest of the country in 2019 when it comes to home price gains and housing market health.
Zillow surveyed more than 100 real estate economists and investment experts for their take on the U.S. housing market and future home value growth. According to Zillow's research, markets in Denver; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Dallas; Las Vegas; Phoenix; and San Jose, Calif., are likely to outperform the rest of America in 2019. The economists on Zillow's panel said they expected U.S. home value to grow an average of 3.8 percent in 2019.
North Texas home prices are about 5 percent higher in 2018 after several years of double-digit annual appreciation. D-FW home prices were forecast to grow 4.3 percent next year in a recent Realtor.com report. Local analysts don't expect declines in home values in 2019. Instead, they say the rate of home price gains and overall home sales are likely to moderate.
International telecom firm Nokia is bringing more than 2,000 workers to the Cypress Waters development. Nokia will relocate its North American headquarters and workers from Las Colinas and Plano to the development north of LBJ Freeway near Belt Line Road. "They've leased 350,000 square feet in two buildings," said Cypress Waters developer Lucy Billingsley. "They are taking one whole building with 250,000 square feet and 100,000 square feet in another." Nokia's new office will be the biggest job center in the 1,000-acre Cypress Waters, which is one of the Dallas-Fort Worth area's most successful developments. "They will be moving into the 100,000 square feet in January and the next 250,000 square feet in June," Billingsley said. The new buildings at 3100 and 3201 Olympus Boulevard are on the south shore of North Lake in a mixed-use project called The Sound.
McKesson Corp., the nation's largest pharmaceutical distributor, announced last week that it will relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Las Colinas in April. The company, which delivers prescription drugs and medical supplies, has more than 75,000 employees globally and had revenue of $208 billion last year. It ranks sixth on the Fortune 500 list, behind only Walmart, Exxon Mobil, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple and UnitedHealth Group. With its move, McKesson will become the second-largest company by revenue to be based in North Texas, surpassing AT&T Inc. The largest, Exxon Mobil, is also headquartered in Las Colinas. Dallas-Fort Worth had 22 Fortune 500 company headquarters this year. That'll grow next year with the addition of McKesson and another California transplant, San Francisco-based Core-Mark Holding Co., which is relocating to Westlake.
The PGA plans to move from its longtime home in Florida to a newly built campus at the northern edge of Frisco in a deal that could cost more than $500 million, three sources familiar with the project told The Dallas Morning News Friday. The project would include a new 500-room resort by Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, the new 100,000-square-foot headquarters building, two championship-level golf courses and a 9-hole practice course. It will also include a guarantee that two PGA Championships, two Women's PGA Championships and multiple men's Senior PGA Championships will be played in Frisco, sources said. The PGA land is located "south of US 380, north of Panther Creek Parkway, east of Teel Parkway and west of Preston Road."