In 1843, Sam Houston, president of the Republic of Texas, sent a commission to Bird’s Fort, on the frontier, to sign “a treaty of peace and friendship” with 10 Native American tribes. The fort and the frontier are long gone. Now that area is part of Arlington. Cowboys Stadium lies to the south, topless clubs to the north. To the west, just on the other side of North Collins Street, looms the Arlington city dump. Here, on 2,300 acres, the developer Huffines Communities is building Viridian. Soon enough, 4,100 residences will stand here, along with shops and restaurants and a community center.
The other day, Elvio Bruni drove a visitor around the property in his SUV. Bruni, a middle-aged man with a friendly face and a tough New York accent, is a senior vice president at Huffines. “The challenge on anything like this is the scale and scope of this project,” Bruni says. “It’s huge.”
Some streets and sidewalks have gone in already. A half-finished security gate waits to be covered with stone nearby. Faux gas lamp streetlights stand over construction debris and portable bathrooms. Sunflowers grow everywhere.
Bruni indicates a private island—now nothing more than a slight rise in elevation in what will eventually be a lake—where million-dollar homes will stand. He dreams of Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys living here, close to the stadia, perfect and private, and a short drive to anywhere.
Will they want to live across the street from a landfill? Bruni doesn’t duck the issue. “If you have a tract of land like this that hasn’t been developed inside a midcities area, there’s a reason for it,” he says. “This one was mainly the landfill and obviously there is reclamation work that needs to be done.”
Dirt will be moved around—more than 1 million yards of it in the first phase alone—to make the rivers and lakes look like the rivers and lakes in the brochure. Huffines constructed roads to divert landfill traffic. The city installed 17 methane collection wells. And Huffines will place houses a half mile away from the landfill, with a retail area acting as a buffer. Huffines is big enough to make it all work. The company has literally built cities, Savannah and Providence in Denton County, each with a population of more than 5,000 people. Viridian won’t be completely built out for another 10 to 15 years.
Bruni finishes the tour, turning onto Collins Street. Newly planted trees line the road, red cedars and live oaks. Alongside the road, the Viridian signage is large and enthusiastic. From the ground springs a 37-foot-tall aluminum “V,” the most ambitious letter in the alphabet.