After the jump, the electronic age sixty years after Collins Radio.
Perhaps you saw the news that Rackspace US Inc. signed a 15-year lease, valued at $134 million, for 58,000 square feet of raised floor space in Digital Realty Trust Datacenter Park. A data center houses racks of compute servers, file servers, data communication links, all protected by redundant power supplies, environmental controls and physical and electronic security. When you do business over the Internet, whether it's through Google, Amazon, your bank or your insurance company, your transaction gets routed through data centers like the ones growing up in Richardson.
Coincidentally, on January 9, the Richardson City Council reviewed the status of Richardson's use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to promote public/private financing for development and redevelopment. Richardson's TIF zones comprise only 6.7% of Richardson's total area and less than that in its property tax base, but they are key to Richardson reinventing itself.
Datacenter Park is part of a TIF zone. Here is a table from the city council's work session, showing the results of some of Richardson's key development projects:
|Area||2006 Tax Value||2011 Tax Value|
Note that Eastside is not part of a TIF zone. That it, too, has become a big asset to Richardson indicates that TIF financing is not essential for all redevelopment. Sometimes, real estate has enough going for it to attract developers without government partnership. [Update: Eastside is in a TIF zone, but was not identified as a "TIF-supported sub-area" in the work session presentation. I don't know why. Thanks, Andrew, for the correction.]
But neither the Collins Technology Park nor Brick Row areas seemed to be going anywhere before the establishment of the TIF zone in 2006. Since then, both have shown significant increases in appraised value and neither one is yet fully built-out or occupied. The West Spring Valley Reinvestment Strategy is focused on turning that neighborhood around, too.
That's the good news. The bad news is that there are plenty of properties in that 2006 TIF zone that continue to struggle. Overall, property appraisals in the TIF zone are barely even over five years. But the outlook would be worse without the continual reinvention that projects like Datacenter Park exemplify.