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Construction to begin by April 2016 on Morningstar development west of Fort Worth

Developers Tim Fleet and Kim Gill say their timing couldn’t be better.

With most of the dirt work completed, and plans and plats all approved, the two will begin street construction in December on the $850 million Morningstar development in Fort Worth’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in Parker County.

Home builders are scheduled to start construction on about 80 houses by April, with plans to have those completed and ready for move-in by the time school starts next fall, they said. “This project is hitting the market at about as perfect a time in this cycle as you could,” Kim Gill said.

Morningstar is a 737-acre development about a mile north of Interstate 20 off Farm Road 3325, west of the well-known Walsh Ranch. In the next decade, 2,117 single-family homes will be built, along with 100 acres of parkland, including hike and bike trails along Mary’s Creek, which runs through the property, four lakes connected with cascading waterfalls, and an impressive amenities center.

Tens of thousands of homes are planned for the 7,200-acre Walsh Ranch, which straddles Interstates 20 and 30, over the next several decades. Plans there call for the first development on about 1,700 acres north of I-30 as well.

“We’re a couple years ahead of the Walsh. That helps,” Fleet said. Ted Wilson of the Dallas-based Residential Strategies consultants said the Morningstar and Walsh communities will complement each other. In the past 12 months, the Aledo market has seen about 326 home starts, triple the rate of just three years ago, he said.

“We are optimistic about the prospects for this development,” Wilson said of Morningstar. “With Northeast Tarrant County now building out, many consumers will be looking to the Aledo ISD as a market that is close to work centers with excellent schools. We've seen similar growth patterns in Argyle ISD to the north.”

Start of development

Fleet and Gill, who are developing their property as FG Aledo Development Llc., said the property was called Morningstar Ranch by a previous developer who owned the land a decade ago. That developer also planned a residential community, but sold the property in 2012 to the Wilks Brothers, the West Texas billionaire founders of Frac-Tech Services, now known as FTS International.

The Wilks sold the property to FG Aledo in May 2014, and FG Aledo has since sold 128 acres in the development to the U.S. operation of Wilbow Corp. in Dallas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wilbow Group Pty. Ltd. in Melbourne, Australia. Wilbow will develop 584 lots.

In the past year, the developers have spent millions on infrastructure work and negotiated community facility agreements with the city of Fort Worth for water and sewer lines to their properties. Those lines will run through easements on Walsh Ranch and will be large enough to serve both developments and beyond.

In September, the Fort Worth City Council agreed to help pay for those lines.

Councilman W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman says the agreements “signal the start of major development on the west side of Fort Worth.” Three to four other large residential projects are in the works, he said.

Zimmerman said the city needs to take a hard look at transportation needs to accommodate the growth to the west. Because all that property is mostly ranch land, few roads that run parallel, and perpendicular, to Interstates 20 and 30 exist. And that could become a problem before all the infrastructure is in place, he said.

Four builders selected

Fleet, president of Fort Worth-based Lackland Holdings, and Gill, president of Sable Development, have been developing together for more than 20 years. The two developed the 360-acre Parkwood Hill neighborhood in north Fort Worth in the late 1990s and several commercial projects. Gill serves as president of FG Aledo Development.

The Aledo school district owns about 100 acres adjacent to their property for a planned second high school, and Weatherford College owns 30 acres next to that, they said. About 35 acres in Morningstar has been set aside for an elementary school if the district needs the land, they said.

Fleet said four home builders have been selected, including D.R. Horton, Highland Homes, Rendition Homes and Impression Homes. About 370 homes will be built in the first phase of construction.

“They’re going to build them fast,” Kim Gill said. Homes will range in size from 1,800 square feet to 4,000 square feet, and $250,000 to $450,000 in price. Morningstar has 35 acres set aside for commercial development on six lots, and is donating 2.5 acres at the northeast corner of Farm Road 3325 and Old Weatherford Road to Parker County for a new subcourthouse.

“This is a real pretty piece of property,” Kim Gill said. “We’ll have the first master-planned community west of Fort Worth in the Aledo ISD. We’re spending a significant amount of money on the amenities, over $3.5 million. This is all being built to Fort Worth specs and inspected by the city of Fort Worth. Our plans are approved by the city of Fort Worth.”

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