Reporting Joel Thomas
CLEBURNE (CBSDFW.COM) - Just north of Cleburne you can see where Toll way 121 — or the Chisholm Trail Parkway — will end in Cleburne. There is a bridge crossing State Highway 174 and ending in a field where bulldozers are flattening a path for the road. You might see an empty field. But Cleburne’s mayor sees far more.
“Where we’re standing right now is going to be a massive retail development,” said Mayor Scott Cain as he surveyed the site. “We already have people who are very excited!”
The toll road is expected to feed a boom for Cleburne. And Mayor Cain is bracing for the same kind of explosive growth he saw years ago when he lived in Frisco.
“It’s not that we want a Frisco or Plano,” Cain said. “We’re trying to be Cleburne. But with the growth projections — we’re anticipating growth from 30,000 to 65,000 to 75,000 over the next 10 to 14 years.”
So, Cleburne is marketing itself to take advantage of that growth. A slickly produced video was shown to more than three dozen retailers and developers during a huge convention in Las Vegas last month.
“This is where our new tollway will enter the city of Cleburne,” the mayor said in the video as he stood in front the bridge under construction. A narrator continued the sales pitch over video of the area: “Providing an instant gateway from the Fort Worth – Dallas Metroplex that means businesses will have the chance to be part of a major boom.”
The videos make a point to highlight the city’s preserved history, its growing infrastructure, amenities such as a lake and golf course and to businesses already springing up or expanding in the path of the new toll road, especially restaurants.
“There’s going to be a lot of people going through,” said Amanda San Miguel, a restaurant worker and life-long resident of Cleburne. “Everyone is excited that Fort Worth is only going to be 20 minutes away so we’re going to have a lot of traffic going through here, a lot of business.”
The message Cleburne sends is it’s a small-town ready for big time development and Texas’ best kept secret.
“Cleburne is ready for this growth,” the mayor concludes at the end of one video. “Give us a call or come see us!”
And they’re hoping a lot of new developers will come see them when the toll way is finished next year.
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