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A hotel boom is underway in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

According to a new report published by hospitality data provider Lodging Econometrics, as of the second quarter of 2022, the Fort Worth-Arlington area ranks 15th nationally for the number of hotels in the pipeline — 65 projects with 8,005 rooms.

In the Dallas area, 173 hotel projects with 20,707 guest rooms are in the planning or development stages.

Dallas leads all U.S. regions based on the number of hotel projects in the pipeline, followed by Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, and Nashville, the report says. Dallas has led all U.S. locations in hotel development for four consecutive quarters.

“While some might expect Miami or New York City to lead the U.S. in terms of the number of hotel projects underway, that distinction actually belongs to Dallas … ,” says The Points Guy travel blog.

Among Fort Worth's highly anticipated properties is a luxe boutique hotel with a chef-driven restaurant coming to the Cultural District. A boutique hotel designed for those seeking outdoors activities is coming to Arlington.

In Dallas, the most hotly anticipated hotels include the JW Marriott Dallas Arts District, set to open in 2023, and the Four Seasons Dallas, on track to debut in 2025.

Brian Hughes, managing director of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, tells The Points Guy that “a heavy trend of corporate and population migration to Texas” has lifted hotel performance in North Texas as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Another plus, it says, is Texas’ business-friendly tax structure. This draws companies to the state, which then feeds demand for hotel rooms to accommodate business travelers.

Elsewhere in Texas:

  • Houston ties for seventh place, with 94 projects featuring 10,247 guest rooms
  • Austin ranks 10th, with 80 projects featuring 10,306 guest rooms
  • San Antonio ranks 21st, with 46 projects featuring 5,116 guest rooms
“Encouraged by 2022’s upward trend in hotel performance, owners, management groups, developers, and investors are moving forward with development plans as evidenced by increasing counts at every stage of construction,” Lodging Econometrics says.
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This national survey says Texas is a great state for business

Business climate check

As Dallas and the rest of Texas continue to welcome out-of-state businesses, there’s some affirming news from a new poll. More than half of non-Texans believe the Lone Star State is a good place to launch a business.

The survey, conducted this summer by Austin-based Crosswinds Media & Public Relations and Asbury Park, New Jersey-based Rasmussen Reports, a conservative-leaning polling company, found 53 percent of non-Texans had a positive perception of Texas as a place to do business. Only 23 percent of adults outside Texas had a “bad” or “very bad” view of the state’s business environment, while 24 percent said they were unsure.

The survey questioned 845 American adults who don’t live in Texas.

Thomas Graham, president and CEO of Crosswinds, says the survey results demonstrate that “the brand of the Lone Star State remains strong.”

In recent years, a number of out-of-state companies have been lured by that brand, as well as the business climate in major metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston. High-profile examples include Tesla, whose Austin factory is already planning expansion; and Amazon, which is in expansion mode across DFW and other parts of Texas.

The poll from Crosswinds and Rasmussen was completed around the same time that CNBC released its ranking of the best states for doing business. Texas landed in fifth place, down one notch from its perch in CNBC’s 2021 study. A day later, CNBC put out a list of the worst states to live, with Texas appearing at No. 2 behind Arizona.

CNBC notes that skilled workers are flooding Texas, even though the quality of life here raises questions. The new arrivals “are finding limited childcare options, a stressed health care system with the highest rate of uninsured, new curbs on voting rights, and few protections against discrimination,” the cable TV network declares.

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A version of this story originally appeared on our sister site InnovationMap.com.

Texas tourist hot spot unearths astounding $104 million in visitor spending, says report

Mission possible

Back in the 1700s, no one could have imagined that a handful of Central Texas missions would someday be a massive economic force.

A new report from the National Park Service shows visitors to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park spent $104 million in the park’s vicinity last year. That’s the first time the yearly spending figure has exceeded $100 million.

Even more impressive: San Antonio Missions accounts for than more than one-fourth of the estimated $371 million in spending last year at the state’s 14 national parks. That makes the San Antonio site the biggest money producer among the 14 parks.

Overall, the $104 million in spending by last year’s 1.3 million visitors to San Antonio Missions generated an economic impact of $165 million, the National Park Service says.

Statewide, national parks attracted 5.9 million visitors in 2021 and triggered an economic impact of $579 million.

The 475-acre San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, comprises four of San Antonio’s five Spanish Colonial missions. The fifth mission is the state-run Alamo. Congress established the national park in 1978.

San Antonio’s five missions date back to the 1700s.

Around the U.S. last year, 297 million visitors spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, generating an economic impact of $42.5 billion.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and community in America, as well as to the local economies of gateway communities that support our national parks,” says Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose agency oversees the national parks.

“As we continue to welcome families to our parks and public lands across the country,” Haaland adds, “the Interior Department is committed to making investments in our lands and waters that will support tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment, and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation.”

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North Texas population explodes past 8 million — and counting, new report says

Boom!

Here’s an astounding growth milestone for North Texas: The region’s population now exceeds the population of the state of Washington.

New data from the North Central Texas Council of Governments indicates that as of January 1, an estimated 8,097,170 people lived in the 16-county region. The region comprises the 12 counties of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, as well four adjacent counties: Erath, Navarro, Palo Pinto, and Somervell.

The council’s tally shows North Texas added 157,570 residents last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In vaulting over the 8 million mark, North Texas can boast that it’s home to more residents than the state of Washington (around 7.8 million).

“Since 1990, the region has almost doubled in population,” the council says.

According to the data, 21 cities in North Texas grew by at least 10 percent last year. Caddo Mills led the way, at 64.7 percent, followed by Aubrey (34.6 percent) and Haslet (34.5 percent).

As for the city that added the most people last year, that title goes to Fort Worth, which grew by 22,710 residents. It was followed by Lewisville (19,000, attributed largely to the annexation of Castle Hills) and Dallas (16,870).

On a percentage basis, the biggest population gainers among North Texas counties were Rockwall, 6.2 percent; Ellis and Johnson, 4.3 percent each; and Collin, 3.8 percent. From a numerical standpoint, Collin County added the most people (41,150), followed by Dallas County (30,660) and Tarrant County (26,220).

Only four North Texas cities lost population last year: Highland Park, 0.5 percent; Aledo and Lake Worth, 0.2 percent each; and Richland Hills, 0.1 percent.

These new figures demonstrate DFW’s continuing allure for people and businesses. This spring, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that DFW saw the biggest population gain among U.S. metros from July 2020 to July 2021. During that period, DFW picked up 97,290 more residents.

“Demographers project that DFW will reach 10 million people sometime in the 2030s, surpassing Chicago to become America’s third-largest metro area,” according to Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

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First-time buyers need this much more income to afford a home in Texas right now

The price is not right

The hurdles are raised for first-time homebuyers in Texas yet again, as rising interest rates demand an overall higher income for mortgage approval.

The Texas Real Estate Research Center released findings in its new Texas Housing Affordability Outlook that Texans buying their first homes need $10,000 more in income than at the beginning of last year to be approved for a $229,000 house.

Purchasing power, the center explains, and mortgage interest rates are indirectly related. Higher interest means higher monthly payments; it takes a higher income to keep up. “... As long as the rise in home prices continues to outpace the increase in income, purchase affordability, or the ability of a household to buy a home, will continue to diminish,” explains the report.

The $229,000 figure represents the first-quartile home price in Texas in Q1 2022, described as "the highest home price among those lowest-priced 25 percent of homes sold" in the state. The state's median home price for the first quarter of 2022 was $319,000. Year-over-year growth was slightly higher for the median figure (18.4 percent) than first-quartile figure (17.5 percent), but both are at their highest rates since the beginning of the chart in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, the Austin-Round Rock area is driving a large part of this growth, with a 29.2 percent change in first-quartile prices since Q1 2021. That figure in Austin now sits at $420,000, almost double the state's first-quartile home price. Dallas-Fort Worth’s numbers are slightly above the state average, San Antonio’s nearly exactly match, and Houston’s are slightly below.

Unfortunately for many Texans currently renting, only 37.4 percent of them are making the qualifying income ($61,652) to buy one of those first-quartile homes with a 3.4 percent interest rate (that was the national interest rate at the beginning of the year; by mid-May the interest rate had risen to 5.25 percent).

Charming Texas Gulf Coast community named one of the most affordable beach towns in U.S.

shore thing

Here's some welcome news for North Texans in search of a beach house that won't break the bank: A new report from Realtor.com says a popular Texas coastal town is among the most affordable in the country.

Rockport, Texas, a coastal community about 375 miles from Fort Worth, lands at No. 7 on Realtor.com’s new list of most affordable beach towns in the country. The charming Gulf Coast town’s average home list price is $435,112.

Rockport is popular for its “clean beaches, fantastic fishing, and world-class birdwatching,” the report says.

Rockport offers 10 different sites on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, which boasts the planet’s sole migrating flock of over 265 whooping cranes, which passes through the Aransas Wildlife Refuge every winter.

In Rockport, waterfront homes start in the mid $400,000s, the report notes, with standouts including a $449,000 two-bedroom townhouse with lovely views of the Aransas Bay and a three-story, two-bedroom house on Mustang Island on the market for $599,900.

To generate the list, Realtor.com’s team surveyed the median home list prices of more than 1,300 towns located across America’s coastlines from May 2021 through April 2022. These areas had at least 30 homes for sale in April (not including pending transactions), the report adds.

Properties must actually be on the water and not just nearby to qualify for the list, and be “more than just a strip of sand and surf” and have diverse entertainment. Rockport is 18 miles from Port Aransas and 30 miles from Corpus Christi.

“The U.S. has over 95,000 miles of shorelines,” George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com, noted in the list. “But most people, when they think of beach towns, they focus on a few dozen destinations. However, there are a lot of hidden gems, which offer all the benefits of seaside living at a much lower price.”

America’s cheapest beach town, according to Realtor.com, is Atlantic City, New Jersey, with a median list price of $161,754. Tiverton, Rhode Island is the priciest of the cheap deals, with a median home price of $480,262.

Here’s the full list, per Realtor.com.

1. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Median list price: $161,754

2. Deerfield Beach, Florida
Median list price: $230,071

3. New London, Connecticut
Median list price: $242,392

4. Mastic Beach, New York
Median list price: $334,907

5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Median list price: $347,875

6. Seal Beach, California
Median list price: $400,338

7. Rockport, Texas
Median list price: $435,112

8. Lynn, Massachusetts
Median list price: $449,626

9. Morehead City, North Carolina
Median list price: $464,842

10. Tiverton, Rhode Island
Median list price: $480,262

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Lightscape' shines bright in this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

2. Hoffbrau Steak fires up the grill for new location in Grapevine. A longtime steakhouse is coming to Grapevine: Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House, a small family-owned and -operated chain that's been in Dallas-Fort Worth for more than 40 years, will open a location November 28 at 700 W. State Hwy 114, previously home to a Brick House Tavern & Tap, which closed during the pandemic.

3. Yellowstone and 1883 stars cowboy up at Fort Worth gala honoring Taylor Sheridan. Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala - held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards - leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."

4. Divine doughnuts and tempting tamales top this Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth has tidbits about doughnuts, Cajun food, vegan tamales, and gourmet ice cream, culled from press releases, social media, and the occasional hot tip. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season. After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season. The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

Texas parks beckon throughout 2022 holidays with festive events and peaceful escapes

If roasting ‘smores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Avoid the Black Friday madness with the 15th annual “Walk-off the Bird” Bird Walk, a 2.1-mile walk by the lakeshore at 9 am November 25. Bring your binoculars to relax and enjoy the bird life of the East Texas Pineywoods. At 2 pm the same day, enjoy a Fall in the Savannah fall foliage hike. Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive from November 25 to December 19. Come back December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 a.m. December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Walk off your Thanksgiving Day meal and explore nature in the cool fall air during the three-mile Thanksgiving Nature Walk 7:30-9 a.m. November 26. Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm. December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
The park’s annual Gobble Till You Wobble hike November 25 has been canceled due to predicted rains. However, you can still follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 a.m. to noon December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Attend Deck the Halls, 10 am. to 3 pm November 26 to explore how early Texans at the Sauer-Beckmann Farm got ready for the holidays by stringing popcorn and decorating cookies to hang on their Christmas tree; learn how to make wreaths out of local cedar and dip candles as the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am to 2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
Take a Giving Thanks Guided Hike and learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 3-4 pm November 26. On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 p.m. December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm. December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2 to 5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Livingston State Park
Learn about your favorite Thanksgiving food (the turkey) during Campfire Turkey Talk on November 26. Rangers will cover the history of Thanksgiving, the habits and behaviors of wild turkeys, and share interesting facts about turkeys, including how it nearly became our national bird.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
Pack your Thanksgiving leftovers and hike 1.5 miles up to Aztec Caves during the park’s Turkey Trot at 11 am November 25. On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park 6-8 pm December 10.

Affluent Fort Worth neighbor leads list of lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Flower Mound as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Flower Mound is $3,531 per person, the third highest in the nation.

The town's 2021 population of 77,243 (per the U.S. Census) boasts a median income $139,703 and earlier this year was named by Ventured.com as the richest city in Texas.

In spite of an increase over last year's gift list totals, Flower Mound dropped to the third spot after being ranked No. 1 last year with a budget of $3,427. Newton, Massachusetts (budget $4,233) and Palo Alto, California (budget $3,920) edged out the Texas city this year.

Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, but there's plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the report, and not just for Flower Mound Santa fans.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

This could be good news if your Christmas wishes are on local shopping lists. Eight other North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Fort Worth landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890, while Dallas landed at No. 401 out of 558 cities with an average holiday budget of $845.

Elsewhere in Texas, spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Santa's bag could be a mixed bag in the Houston area with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.