Wilmer, TX - The fence next to Hope Foley's home is a sign of the times in Wilmer. The small town 15 miles south of Dallas is undergoing some big changes that will transform the small-town country lifestyle many of its residents have come to love.
"It was nice and quiet. Now it's just right there," said Foley, standing just a few feet away from the active construction site next to her home on Goode Street.
A few weeks ago developers broke ground on phase one of a massive residential and retail project just off I-45 called Liberty Crossing. Nearly 450 apartment units will be spread across 20 buildings, bringing in nearly 1,000 new residents. Wilmer's current population is about 4,000 people.
"I prefer to be a little farther away from (the noise), but I think it's good because it will bring more people in, make more businesses come out here," Foley said. Foley is more excited about the new elementary school that's being built about a quarter-mile from her home. It will be the first Dallas ISD elementary school in Wilmer since the Wilmer-Hutchins ISD was dissolved in 2006. "It'll be wonderful, just wake you up and walk you to school," Foley said. "I'm hoping it will do them good. They'll have more friends, more people to hang out with."
In the last 6 years nearly 1,400 jobs have come to Wilmer, many of them in the industrial sector.Many of those laborers commute in and out of the city for work. Mayor Casey Burgess said the new development will make Wilmer a place where people can work and live.
Despite the recent economic activity, Burgess said Wilmer is still playing catch up to many of its neighboring cities to the north.
"We know we need to grow the city, grow the tax base. Our plan has been to really grow the industrial side and get the jobs here, thinking the residential will follow and then the retail will follow that. It seems to be falling into place," Burgess said.
Construction of phase two of Liberty Crossing is expected to begin this summer. Burgess said Dallas ISD also plans to build a middle school.
"People are finally discovering we're down here," he said.
Source: Wilmer EDC