Sixty years ago, Angus Wynne envisioned what was to be the nation's largest master-planned business Park. Wynne along with his staff planned and implemented a set of standards that developers throughout the country would soon envy and model after. Stringent deed restrictions, designated sign criteria, architectural review committees and ongoing control of these issues by a concerned property owners association known as the Great Southwest Association helped to assure major corporations that the Great Southwest Industrial Park would set the standard for industrial development. From the first deals in the late 1950s to the current developments, the Great Southwest Industrial area has been an unqualified success. The Great Southwest Association proved to be the lynchpin in the development plan for Great Southwest. By uniting property owners under one banner with a common goal, the association impacted change politically and economically. The cities of Grand Prairie and Arlington worked closely with the fledgling association and provided it with the necessary momentum to be successful. By controlling virtually every aspect of the Great Southwest Industrial Park, the owners and Great Southwest Corporation made GSW the premier industrial development in the nation.
Coming to a Standstill
Unfortunately as development of the Park proceeded, eventually the Great Southwest Corporation relinquished control over the development, participation in the Great Southwest Association lost its luster and the association began a downhill slide. While not dead, the association had little or no impact on what went on politically or economically within the boundaries of the Park. As a result, standards for property maintenance declined, as did the esthetics of the Park. Vantage Cos., Trammell Crow and other independent and institutional owners worked through the middle to late 1980's to resuscitate the Great Southwest Association. These major developers controlled the bulk of the property in the Park through investor partnerships or direct ownership and thus were able to instill and maintain some semblance of control on the development activity. But their world changed abruptly in 1986 when governmental legislation altered the face of the real estate market by revamping the tax laws governing real estate investments. Over the next three years, developers and institutional ownership became fragmented as partnerships dissolved or became insolvent ushering in a new tier of owners who had no long-term focus other than mere survival. Because of this lack of focus and no development leadership, the Great Southwest Association died from apathy. The early 1990's were tough times for the Great Southwest industrial area. Rental rates reached all time lows, property values declined and the national economy provided little hope of rebound. Infrastructure within GSW began to show significant degradation and because the municipalities were often as cash short as property owners, few efforts were instituted to rectify problems and more importantly, plan the future of GSW.
Tough times tend to strengthen those who can see them through or adapt to the changes necessary to survive. The GSW industrial area was too important to the tax base of both Grand Prairie and Arlington. Both cities implemented economic development strategies characteristic of the early to mid 1990s, and began a reassessment of the preservation and propagation of the Great Southwest as a great place to conduct business. What both parties concluded was that the Park was still an extremely viable and productive location wit the necessary infrastructure to accommodate new growth. They also concluded the central region of the Park needed substantial reinvestment of tax dollars to give the area a much needed face lift. At about the same time, a core group of veteran real estate players and owners, in conjunction with the economic development departments of the two cities, began to circulate the idea of bringing back the Great Southwest Association to help facilitate GSW's revitalization. The thought behind the Great Southwest Association was if it could be reborn and the membership could be built back up to measurable standards, it would provide an invaluable tool in the effort to preserve the value and marketability of GSW.
By involving the owners, tenants, investors and others whose livelihood depended on the success of GSW, the Association would attempt to reestablish the standards that were so integral to the original success of the Park. With this in mind, the move to form a new Great Southwest Association began to take place in early 1998. This core group of leaders has now begun to develop a vision for this reorganization. A board of directors for the new organization has been selected, and various committees have been formed. All agree the municipalities have much to gain from the efforts of this new organization, and officials with the cities of Grand Prairie and Arlington are giving generously of their time and municipal resources to the Association. Economic development, beautification and infrastructure committees were the first formed in order to provide the momentum and backbone for the new organization. Each of these committees has a common goal: To attain the wholesale involvement of each tenant, owner, investor and service provider in the GSW Association.