Rowlett sees development boom after 2015 tornado

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It will be two years this December that a tornado caused extensive damage in Rowlett.

But the devastation in the Rockwall County town is turning into development.

27-year-old Jimmy Chafin's house was once a part of the wreckage left behind by a destructive day after Christmas after a tornado outbreak in 2015. The previous homeowner took their insurance money and moved on, opening the door for a developer and near-complete remodel.

One reason Chafin, a new dad, is rolling the dice on Rowlett and leaving Dallas for the burbs is for the billion-dollar Crystal Lagoon waterpark on Lake Ray Hubbard. It’s been in the works for more than three years. Crews are now moving dirt and showing signs of progress, promising recreation and entertainment.

Leah Slaughter is with a real estate property investment firm and has a front row seat to the area's rapid change.

“Lake Ray Hubbard has never had what Lake Lewisville has, and this will completely change the dynamic here,” she said. “Personally, I had one investor who bought 40 homes here in Rowlett and renovated them and then wound up reselling them. So there was a lot of money pumping into Rowlett that drove prices up, too.”

Other factors upping Rowlett's game include the George Bush Turnpike expansion connecting to Interstate 30, giving easy access to housing-strapped Plano and Frisco.

Chafin says most residents applaud the recovery, but not everyone is thrilled.

“I see a lot of complaints of all the new things that are coming in town,” he said.

Still, Chafin is happy to be a part of Rowlett’s comeback.