FORNEY, Texas — Approved, incentivized, and proposed; with their first apartment zoning approval in nearly 12 years, and others to be considered in the near future, takes a look at the City of Forney's apartment development forecast since our last review two years ago.

In brief, unrestricted apartment units in Meadow Ridge Farm and The Emerson at Forney Marketplace represent approximately 1,302 apartment units most recently developed and leasing in the City of Forney. That on-the-ground footprint could nearly double with 1,225 more apartment units either recently approved or up for consideration by the Forney City Council. These numbers also do not reflect approximately 2,000 more multi-family units previously approved for development under the Meadow Ridge Farm agreement.

Meadow Ridge Farm and the Gateway Development

A lion's share of the apartment development forecast in Forney lies within Meadow Ridge Farm, more commonly referred to as the Gateway development, located along Gateway Boulevard on the north side of U.S. Highway 80. There, the Gateway Oaks, Gateway Cedars, and Gateway Pines represent 982 apartment units and the Preserve at Gateway, a 55+ age restricted community for active adults, accounts for another 329 units.

Under a 2009 agreement, Meadow Ridge Farm was approved to build 5,000 residential units — among the uses are multi-family apartments, duplexes, triplexes, single-family detached, single-family industrialized homes, single-family townhomes, single-family zero-lot line patio-style homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, nursing homes, and live-work style units or lofts as permitted in the mixed-use tracts.

Amid a debate of the permissible multi-family units and densities in Meadow Ridge Farm, the City of Forney and the Gateway developers came to a new agreement to lower the permissible multi-family units included in the 5,000 total residential dwellings to a maximum of 3,250 multi-family residential dwellings. With a new ordinance now in place, the Gateway development was also limited to 650 multi-family units with a two-year period to assure, according to council's agenda report, that all the residential growth did not occur together at one time.

Approximately 1,980 multi-family units remain undeveloped in Meadow Ridge Farm.

The Emerson at Forney Marketplace

The Emerson at Forney Marketplace, located on Trailhouse Lane behind Kroger Marketplace, was originally approved in early 2009 under the Villas at Mustang Place Planned Development. In 2013, the developers returned to the Forney City Council seeking a zoning change request to remove a portion of the previosuly approved multi-family to subsitute in additional single-family lots. Another zoning change in 2017 lowered the density of the single-family portion of the development and lowered the total lot count from 171 lots to 117 lots and increased the lot sizes from 3,2500-square foot minimums to lot sizes between 6,000- and 6,600-square feet.

It wasn't until February 2018 that the developer of The Emerson at Forney Marketplace requested approvel of their preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan from the Forney City Council to develop 320 apartment units and began construction.

Trailhouse Park Planned Development

The Trailhouse Park Planned Development is the most recently approved development with a multi-family component and also represents the first time in nearly 12 years the Forney City Council has granted a zoning change request to allow for the additional development of apartments within the city limits.

Trailhouse Park is located located northwest of the U.S. Highway 80 frontage road and Trailhouse Lane, and just south of The Emerson at Forney Marketplace.

In August 2020, the Forney City Council approved a development agreement which rezoned the 38.526 acres of commercial and general retail district to a planned development overlay district with base zoning districts for commercial and multi-family.

The Trailhouse Park Planned Development proposes 325 apartment units in six buildings and 60 townhomes.

In approving Trailhouse Park, the Forney City Council also approved a $2.25 million reimbursable grant for the developer on qualified expenditures related to the infrastructure at the site. The multi-family components are proposed to be built in the first phase of the development which also proposes a hotel and commercial components.

According to the development agreement, the City of Forney shall not issue a certificate of occupancy (CO) on the third apartment structure until the developer has initiated the construction of a minimum of 10,000-square feet of commercial space on the property. Additionally, the City of Forney shall not issue the CO on the sixth apartment building until the developer has initiated the construction of additional commercial space, which, when aggregated with the 10,000-square feet of previously construction commercial space, shall total a minimum of 25,000-square feet of commercial space.

Commercial use includes retail, office, hotel, medical, entertainment, or restaurant uses.

Two newly proposed developments with multi-family components to go before P&Z, City Council

On the southside of U.S. Highway 80, two separate developments propose multi-family and high-density components.

The Forney City Council will discuss one of those in a closed-door executive session during their November 17, 2020, regularly scheduled meeting. The developer is seeking to rezone land at the northwest corner of Farm-to-Market (FM) 548 and FM 741 for a mixed use development. During early negotiations with the City of Forney several months ago, the developer proposed a Tom Thumb grocery store, retail, and approximately 300 apartments. Recent discussions could push the developer to a mix of apartments and townhomes, although those details have not been made public.

Just southeast of this development, south of FM 741 and Monitor Boulevard, The Bellagio development is proposing what could be the city's largest single-product multi-family component.

The Bellagio was presented to the Forney City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission during a joint-meeting on September 22, 2020. There, the developer outlined plans for 600 multi-family units, which include short-term or overnight rental units; several restaurants and bars; and a 2-acre crystal lagoon, which would be open to residents and by admission for non-residents of the development.

Additionally, The Bellagio development proposes 1,100 single-family residential units in a high-density configuration, both on the west and east side of FM 741, with varying lot sizes. The single-family residential units would likely include a variation of small-lot "garden-" and "patio-style" homes, which were described by the developer as "beach-style homes."

The developer formally submitted plans with the City of Forney this week and could be put before the Planning and Zoning and Forney City Council as early as next month. The development would also require a Public Improvement District (PID), according to the developer.

Forney City Council in favor of diversified residential offerings

Over the past several months, the Forney City Council has expressed, during public comments reviewing and considering a number of zoning variances, their desire to see more diversified residential offerings — specifically the smaller lot, lower maintenance, garden- and patio-style homes and townhomes.

In November 2019, the Forney City Council voted 6-1 to approve a rezoning request for 88.4 acres of property located west of Ranch Road and north of the Brookville Estates Planned Development. The property, referred to as the Adams Ranch Planned Development, was originally approved in December 2003 for 249 lots with a 25-foot front-yard setbacks, an average lot size of 10,560 square foot, and a home size ranging between 1,500 and 2,200 square-feet.

The developer requested and received approval to reduce the lot size of 89 lots to a minimum 6,800-square-foot lot area, 203 lots to 5,750-square-foot lot area,  110 townhome units on 2,250-square-foot lots and alleys, and that all structures would have an 1,800 square-foot minimum dwelling area.

In October 2020, the Forney City Council granted the Oak Creek Planned Development a zoning variance which reduced the lot widths from 60 feet to 45 feet and reduced the minimum lot size from 8,000 square feet to 4,950 square feet. The 38.7-acre development, located on FM 548 across from Chestnut Meadows, proposes 117 garden- and patio-style homes.

In October 2019, the Forney City Council approved the preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan for Avilla at Oakridge — a 209 lot cottage-style residential rental development located on 18.4 acres just southwest of Reeder Road and Reeder Lane. The development did not require a zoning change and fell under the permissible multi-family uses in the Meadow Ridge Farm development.

A similar 12.239-acre single-family cottage rental development is proposed north of the intersection of FM 741 and Monitor Boulevard in the Fox Hollow PID. The development was originally scheduled for a public hearing on November 5, 2020, and was rescheduled for the December 3, 2020 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

Denied or changed plans

In September 2020, just two weeks after approving the Trailhouse Park Planned Development, the Forney City Council denied, with prejudice, a developer's request to rezone 53.49 acres of light industrial just south of Steve Silver Company on FM 548 to a mixed-use planned development district with base zonings for commercial, retail, office space, townhomes, and apartments.

The project called for 111,000-square feet of office space, 52,600-square feet of retail, 13,900-square feet of restaurant space, approximately 100 townhomes, and approximately 400 apartments. The more than $100 million development also included the eastern extension of Ridgecrest Road and an easement for Steve Silver Company to allow their 18-wheeler traffic access to FM 548 via a four-way traffic control signal at FM 548 and the Ridgecrest extension.

Among the reasons for denial cited by the Forney City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission was the lack of a traffic impact analysis study, which would have been required under city ordinance had the development been approved, and due to the multi-family apartment component and considerations for the rate at which land was being developed in the same zoning classification in The Emerson, the Gateway development, and the Trailhouse Park planned development.

On August 18, 2020, the Wellington Ridge Planned Development withdrew their plans for 259 multi-family lots and 308 single-family lots on 108.2 acres south of U.S. Highway 80 at FM 460. The developer sought and received approval for a zoning change to light industrial and general retail, neighborhood services, and office uses.

This analysis tracked the most recent developments and does not take into account the Pinson Road Apartments, multi-family rentals on West Trinity Street, the Eastgate Village Apartments on Cedar Street, or the Forney Senior Citizen Apartments on North McGraw Street.