In the midst of a global pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment, Allen-based developer JaRyCo is moving forward with construction on The Farm in Allen, a new 135-acre mixed-use development in an area of North Texas booming with them.
Located in Allen, 10 minutes from Plano’s Legacy area, the Farm will offer 142,000 square feet of retail, a 150-key hotel, 60,000 square feet of restaurants and town homes, and 2,400 urban residential units, according to the developer’s July 15 press release. They are also offering several outdoor amenities, including about a three-acre lake and two miles of hiking and biking trails.
The Farm in Allen is one of several developments projected to change the face of Allen and help the population reach 117,000 citizens by 2023. Those other developments include Watters Creek District, an ever-evolving development since 2008, and Monarch City, a 261-acre master-planned/mixed-use development, according to a July 2019 Bisnow report.
“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with the Johnson family and transform their treasured farm into a world-class mixed-use project that will check all of the boxes for what the citizens of Allen need,” said Bruce Heller, the president of JaRyCo.
Except for that rural feel that some of Allen’s longtime residents tend to favor. One resident asked council members to refrain from "drink(ing) the Kool-Aide on dense, urban development."
The town of Allen used to be a place of “miles and miles of waving grass that even in the early spring reached the stirrups of a saddle,” where “wild waterfowl rose out of the water-filled buffalo wallows by the thousands,” R.W. Carpenter told his grandchildren in the mid 1800s, according to Gwen Pettit, a longtime Allen resident who wrote weekly newspaper columns between 1986 and 1992 for the Allen Leader and Allen American.
Today, it’s difficult to tell where Allen begins and Plano and McKinney end.
The story of the Johnson farm, the soon-to-be location of The Farm in Allen, is by now a familiar one. Bob Johnson, Sr., and his wife Doris Johnson purchased the family farm from another farmer in the 1960s. They raised cattle and grew wheat, corn, and hay.
“As a family that has owned the property across four generations, we are excited to begin transferring this special family legacy to future generations in Allen,” a family spokesperson said in a statement.
The Johnson family partnered with JaRyCo to develop the land. JaRyCo has completed 14 projects in Allen. They point out that the new development has been designed as a “family-friendly, family-focused, small town environment with unique features and businesses that will attract repeat visitors.”
It's similar, in fact, to the development enveloping Plano's Lavon Farms, which is part of the Envision Oak Point development plan that launched in 2018. It's another long-term project that promises affordable housing for Collin College students, single-family housing, a rustic shopping center, bike paths, and a rural preserve, where a small piece of Lavon Farms can continue its operations as a working dairy farm.
Allen Mayor Debbie Stout supports the new development. Not many small town local officials in places like Aubrey, Celina, or even as far away as New Fairview and Rhome in Wise County, have been saying no to them and the economic boosts they offer.
“The Farm in Allen is a unique mixed-used development that really captures the story of Allen’s continued growth,” the mayor said in the developer’s press release. “Just as farmland served generations of families before us, it will transform into a modern urban center to serve many generations to follow.”
In the developer’s press release, Daniel Bowman, Allen’s Economic Development Corporation executive director, stressed how the Farm in Allen will be different from other developments: “Embracing the natural beauty of the property and creating an outdoor entertainment district will set this project apart from nearby developments.”
Construction on The Farm begins in late 2020.