When you think of hip, fun destinations to live, work, and play in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the city of Lewisville is not usually at the top of the list.
But city leaders in this northern suburb of almost 100,000 residents are changing that as redevelopment moves into full swing in the Old Town area. New houses, townhomes, restaurants, and retail shops are all in the works as developers and entrepreneurs take note of the changing atmosphere.
“Everybody has been hyper-focused on Collin County, but these changes in Lewisville will give people another option,” said David Maez, Broker and Co-Owner at VIVO Realty, which represents the developer Belleville Village, the builders of Uptown Village Lewisville townhomes near East Main Street and East Mill Street in Old Town. “It’s close to Lewisville Lake, close to the airport, close to I-35, which makes it easy to get to Dallas. These changes will make that area more appealing for buyers, especially younger professionals.” The Old Town historic district dates prior to the city’s incorporation in 1925, and used to be a vibrant part of the area’s culture. It fell on hard times over subsequent decades, though, as the residents aged and population shifted to the west and southwest.
Fifteen years ago, city leaders shifted into gear and decided that revitalization was a top priority. With public funding, they built a new City Hall in 2003, pedestrian amenities along Main Street and nearby areas, extensive streetscaping, and the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, which opened in 2011.
That same year, the Old Town station opened as a commuter rail stop with the Denton County Transportation Authority, connecting to DART in Carrollton. A 1.5-acre Old Town Park Plaza across from City Hall is scheduled for completion in April 2015 and will create an open space and community destination.
These public projects have improved the area and paved the way for private investment in Old Town.
“The city structured the public funding to leverage new, private funding to come on board, which is exactly what is happening,” said Nika Z. Reinecke, Director of Economic Development and Planning for Lewisville. “As a suburb, we are looking to reinvent ourselves—our plans are coming together and people are going to see a different Lewisville in the next 20 years. We want to add a lot more residential units, amenities, and create a more pedestrian-oriented environment, so people will want to come and hang out in Old Town.”
Earlier this year, Lewisville City Council adopted the Lewisville 2025 vision plan, which outlines a specific, comprehensive plan for the area. New dining, entertainment, and residential options in Old Town are a key focus.
To that end, three new restaurants area slated to open in 2015 in Old Town, Café Herrera, Cavalli Pizza, and Jason Boso’s hybrid of Truck Yard and Twisted Root Burger.
Retail options are also increasing, with five locations opening, expanding, or relocating to a larger space, Beasley’s Fine Jewelry, Lil’ Shop on the Plaza, Main Street Mercantile, the Old Town Meat Market, and a new hair salon on Main Street.
“Having these businesses invest in our historic downtown will draw customers from across the region as they each have outstanding regional reputations and will help us continue to make Old Town, and Lewisville as a whole, a great place to live, work and play,” said Lewisville Mayor Pro Tem TJ Gilmore.
In our Tuesday Two Hundred this week, I wrote about a listing in the Uptown Village Lewisville townhome development near East Main Street and East Mill Street in Old Town. Belleville Village developers are spearheading that project, which has sold out of its first phase of units.
Across the street, they are planning 45 high-end, single family, colonial-style houses, Maez said, starting in the $270s. The overall concept is approved by city council, but Reinecke said they are still discussing the details, including how to make the most mixed use of the strategic space. The plans should firm up in 2015.
Near the Old Town rail station, Reinecke said there’s strong interest from restaurants and single- and multi-family residential developers, and she compares possible future use of the space to that in Carrollton.
“A lot of cities are trying to create this look in development and we’re taking advantage of the assets we already have—an authentic downtown—and trying improve it as we can,” said Reinecke, noting the next public project is a comprehensive facelift for Mill Street running south from Main Street. It’s partially funded with a $3 million sustainability grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and will create a safer, more appealing street for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as an attractive and dynamic vehicular gateway into Old Town Lewisville from the south. Completion date is slated for the end of 2015.
This overall strategy for mixed-use development started nearby in Frisco, Maez said, and something similar in Lewisville will add vibrancy to that area.
“The Shops at Legacy were the pioneers of mixed-use development, with retail, food and dining and residential living on top. They were so successful, people around the country copied the model,” Maez said. “There’s development in Highland Village and Flower Mound, but not so much in Lewisville. Now, it will be a hip and cool place to go.”
That’s music to the ears of city planners in Lewisville, who would like nothing better than to turn the historic Old Town area once again into a thriving commercial core, entertainment district, and coveted residential location.
Reinecke summed it up in one sentence: “The more people realize what’s happening in Old Town Lewisville, the more they’ll want to live here, shop here, and work here.”