Growth pours north out of Dallas, the city nicknamed “the Big D,” and one result has been a boom in the suburb of Frisco, which earned the title of the nation’s fastest-growing city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau as of May 2020.

Frisco’s stunning growth stats include this: 71 percent population growth between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2019.

North Texas has been surging, with job growth attributable to a steady stream of new jobs from corporations including Toyota, Charles Schwab, State Farm Insurance, and other major firms that have contributed thousands of newcomers to Dallas-area payrolls.

So, with the help of the Dallas North Tollway, people push into the northern suburbs, spreading three miles (5 km) northward from Frisco to Celina—a town that has mushroomed from a population of 6,100 in 2010 to roughly 44,000 today.

“As many of you know, the growth has very much gone north, fueled not only by the Dallas North Tollway, but it’s just been one of those natural paths of growth,” said Paige Shipp, director of development for Texas for the Avanta Residential, a Texas-based development firm, speaking at the 2022 ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas. “Everything has gone north and less so to the south.”

The panel discussion explored the spread of the growth and the north-of-Dallas communities that strive to create a job base and develop more than residential structures.

“Major employment drivers obviously are downtown Dallas, but you also have the airport [Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport]. So that’s all fueled the growth that we’ve seen in Frisco and are now seeing in Celina,” said Shipp.

Frisco has been deliberate in gaining other nonresidential development, such as the recent relocation of the newly constructed, 106,622-square-foot (9,905 sq m) $33.5 million PGA of America headquarters building. The PGA golf organization left southern Florida for the Frisco facility, which includes two new 18-hole championship courses, a 510-room Omni Resort, and a 30-acre (12 ha) practice facility.

The Frisco populace understands the importance of building a well-rounded economy, said George Purefoy, who retired as Frisco city manager this summer after a 34-year run of building the city.

“They wanted to be a full-service community and they didn’t want to be just a bedroom community,” he said.

During his tenure as city manager, Purefoy worked with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys organization to secure the Star, a 91-acre (37 ha) campus of the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility in Frisco. The company has also gained new office locations from telecom T-Mobile.

Meanwhile, Frisco’s population has jumped from 116,000 in 2010 to 217,000 today, Purefoy said.

Along the way, there have been points of concern in the Frisco City Hall, Purefoy said, such as when COVID-19 shut down hotels and retailing, key contributors of taxes to the city coffers.

“Hotel occupancy went from 70 percent occupancy to zero,” Purefoy said. But the city passed through the pandemic shutdown with only a modest hit in tax revenue.

In Celina, city leadership has been trying to absorb growth without losing its small-town feel and its historical roots as an agricultural community, said panelist Jason Laumer, the city manager of Celina.

Housing demand in Celina has been strong and home prices are far higher than starter-home buyers might expect to find some 50 miles (80 km) distant from downtown Dallas.

The typical price of a newly built home in Celina is over $600,000, said Laumer.

After the city completed extensive resident surveys and community meetings, the city leaders described the community’s future desire as one aiming to maintain Celina’s “hometown feel and charm, beautiful countryside, and wholesome faithful community.”

Settlers arrived in Celina in 1879, drawn by the newly constructed St. Louis, San Francisco, and Texas Railway.

Growth was slow for decades, but that era is over. From July 2020 to July 2021, Celina gained 9,213 in population. And the city’s growth will only accelerate in the future, Laumer said.

By 2034, he said, Celina is expecting the city’s population to hit 326,102.