05 May 2010

Fort Worth Fastest-Growing North Texas City in 2009


Bolstered by continued growth in the Alliance Corridor and in-fill housing completions in established areas like the Seventh Street district, Fort Worth was the fastest-growing city in North Texas last year.

But the lingering effects of the recession are still slowing down the regional housing market. The level of new single-family housing units and Fort Worth apartments was the lowest since 1989, according to figures released Thursday by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Fort Worth added 15,950 people for a total of 736,200, a sizeable step ahead of second-place Dallas, which added 10,000 people for a total of 1,316,350. Third on the list was Frisco at 6,250.

"The story is we are growing during a recession. It's very positive in this environment," said Tim Barbee, director of research and information services for the council.

For Fort Worth, "the story is the same as last year," when the city added 17,400 people, he said. "The growth has been surprisingly consistent, especially considering the downturn," Barbee said.

But the totals are slim compared with pre-recession numbers. In 2006, Fort Worth added 37,000 residents.

Tarrant County grew by 21,650 last year for a total of 1,829,400, an increase of 1.18 percent. At 2.87 percent, Crowley notched the fastest rate in the county, growing by 350 for a total of 12,550. By comparison, Arlington (370,650) was essentially flat, adding 200 people for a rate of 0.05 percent.

The 16-county North Texas region grew by 89,770 people to 6,729,400. In 2005, it was 6,075,000, up from 5,309,277 in 2000.

Among smaller cities in the region, Prosper in Collin County notched a one-year hike of 31.69 percent, adding 2,250 for a total of 9,350. In 1970, it had 501 residents. Roanoke in Denton County added 550 residents, an 8 percent increase to 7,500.

The council's population estimates are based on building permits, occupancy factors and household size factors.

For the first time in a decade, new single-family housing completions fell below 20,000, said Donna Coggeshall, research manager for the council. The region added 18,840 homes in 2009, compared with 27,300 in 2008. It's the lowest rate since 1989, when the region added 15,250 units, she said.

Despite the slowdown in new home construction, 2009 single-family occupancy rates were similar to 2008's, she said.

Fort Worth added 3,891 new single-family units and 3,452 multifamily completions.

"Compared to Dallas, Fort Worth still has room to grow," Coggeshall noted. "Most of that came in the Alliance Corridor, but there was also in-fill additions in areas like Seventh Street, where condos, town homes and apartments in Fort Worth were completed."

There was a small rebound in the number of new multifamily units (15,200) added to the regional housing stock, she said. In 2008, 13,400 multifamily units were completed.

"Multifamily developments that have been stalled by the economy are now being finished up in response to demand for rentals," she said. "Occupancy rates are up slightly this year."

Considering the economic climate across the country, Barbee said, North Texas is faring well.

"Other areas are flat or declining, and we're still growing. It has slowed down, but it is still happening. Compare that to places like Las Vegas," he said. "A lot of places would be happy to have these numbers."

By his own personal economic barometer, things appear to be looking up, Barbee said.

Two years ago, when the recession bared its teeth, the amount of traffic noticeably slowed on his commute to work at the council's office near Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

"In the past few months, it has picked back up," he said.

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