For the last 20 years, Jim Meara has been planning a project at Kingsfort that has the potential to significantly increase single-family housing opportunities in Kaufman. And now, over the last eight weeks, progress has begun to finally bring his vision to life.
It has been a long process and there are a number of different parties involved including George Schuler and Schuler Development who helped Meara’s plan progress through the development stage and Bloomfield builders, the company that will be handling the building and selling of the houses once they’re completed. With all of the prep work finalized, Bloomfield has begun work breaking ground for the first phase of Meara’s Georgetown project: 59 houses of the total 305 that will be completed by the end of what will be a multi-year undertaking. They have a lot of work to do; Meara hopes that all 59 houses will be finished by August if Bloomfield is able to stick to their projected pace of four to six houses each month. But even once the 59 are completed, the process will really only just be beginning.
“We think we’re really just scratching the surface,” Meara said. “We think it will start a process that Kaufman desperately needs.”
Though 59 new houses will be added to Kaufman this year, Meara is not under the illusion that they will all be filled by newcomers to the town. He predicts that a significant portion of the buyers will be current Kaufman residents. Even so, he thinks this will bring about its own positive outcomes for the town.
“Not only will you have 59 new houses immediately,” Mears said, “we think that some of those buyers will come from existing houses in Kaufman. So you’ll have a turnover inventory which would be positive for the market because a lot of people have lived in their house for a long time and they’d rather have a new house than spend $50,000 fixing up their other house. When a new person comes to town, the first thing they’re going to do is fix up that older house. So it’s going to lift values across the board. We’re excited. We think the 59 houses will sell very quickly.”
Once Phase I is completed this year, Meara’s plans call for Bloomfield to begin work on Phase II 18 months later which will add even more single-family dwellings. This will be followed by several other phases, which will result in 305 homes, three single-family complexes and one 15-acre park being added to Kaufman over the first part of the next decade. Meara’s optimistic projections put the total project’s completion around August 2023, but he admits that it could stretch as far as the Spring of 2025. He also predicts, however, that this project may spur similar ventures in the future as more planners, developers and builders come to view Kaufman as a viable market in large part thanks to Bloomfield’s name value.
“Bloomfield, we think, will put a stamp of good approval on the market and will attract other builders to Kaufman,” Meara said.
One of the key reasons Meara is so excited about bringing in new homes, and eventually new people, to Kaufman is to help feed the retail activity in the town. Meara and his company have been major players in lining Kingsfort with new businesses, and nearly all of them are success stories.
“We have done well in Kaufman,” Meara said. “Of everything we’ve built, most of the tenets, with an exception of one, remain in business. But we need more people to help grow that business.”
In order to further aid this, Meara has introduced plans for a trail system that will go from the new houses in Georgetown to the businesses at Kingsfort allowing for homeowners and families to easily walk to eat and shop. Over time, he predicts the area will see a lot more foot traffic than it does now. He even suggests that the trail could tie into a potential elementary school that would be built along the eastern side of the commercial area.
But Meara isn’t interested in merely bolstering Kaufman’s current businesses; he’s constantly eyeing other companies that could help boost the town’s tax base and offer new avenues to its residents. In particular, Meara is interested in getting a hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot to come to Kaufman, though he admits that it has been a challenge so far.
“A Home Depot or Lowes would go a long way,” Meara said. “We’re still in discussions with them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they have not built a lot of stores anywhere in the country in the last seven or eight years. We’re starting to see that change and we think that we have a better-than-decent chance of bringing a Lowes or Home Depot to Kaufman.”
Meara argues that the implementation of these types of stories would significantly grow Kaufman’s tax base, keeping Kaufman shoppers invested in the town rather than traveling elsewhere like Terrell, Forney or Dallas. Meara used the town’s acquisition of its Walmart four years ago as a prime example of the effect such openings can have.
“When you recapture those tax dollars, it has a tremendous impact on the economy,” Meara said.
Meara is also optimistic that Crossroads at Terrell, the new shopping center opening up off of Highway 148 across from Buc-ees, will have a positive effect on Kaufman’s market viability. Crossroads will include a Marshall’s and a Ross, two stores that will be expanding their business for the first time in the area to the east of Mesquite. Crossroads is scheduled to open toward the end of the summer, around the same time as the scheduled completion of Phase I of the Georgetown project.
“If Marshall’s and Ross and Burke’s and Hobby Lobby open up real well, that would be good for us,” Meara said. “I’m anxious to see how that does.”
Regardless, Meara is exceedingly optimistic about the progress he and his partners have made so far and eager to see what the future holds for Georgetown, Kingsfort and Kaufman as a whole.
“We’re pleased with how things have gone,” Meara said. “We appreciate all of the support from the city. Kaufman is a great place to be. We think it will only get better.”