Todd Interests acquired Texas’s Fairfield Lake on June 1. The Dallas-based developer plans to build a resort community on the 5,025-acre property. No financial terms were disclosed. Owned by Vistra Corp., the $110 million listing included a 2,400-acre private lake. Listing broker Cash McWhorter of Hortenstine Ranch Company raved about the one-of-a-kind water feature to The Land Report in 2022.
“The most overused phrase in real estate is ‘once-in-a-lifetime,’ but that’s the only way to describe this property,” McWhorter said.
Fairfield Lake State Park
According to Hortenstine Ranch Company marketing materials, Fairfield Lake ranked as the largest private water offering in Texas. Twenty-one miles of elevated shoreline surround the lake. Mature hardwoods abound. Two islands connect by bridge to the northern portion of the property. At the southern end, more than eight miles of two-lane, highway-grade blacktop crisscross 1,800-acre Fairfield Lake State Park.
Since 1971, Vistra leased the acreage to the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife for the park at a cost of a dollar a year. In 2018, however, the power-generation company decommissioned the Big Brown Power Plant that Fairfield Lake cooled. Following the plant’s closure, management decided to offload the asset.
After Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife passed on the opportunity to purchase the park, Vistra listed Fairfield Lake with Dallas-based Hortenstine Ranch Company.
Land Report readers first learned about Todd Interests founder Shawn Todd courtesy of Corinne Gaffner Garcia’s profile “There’s No Place Like Home Track.” Since founding his family-owned firm in 1990, Todd has been involved in the acquisition, development, redevelopment, and disposition of more than $1.5 billion of real estate. The $450 million redevelopment of The National in downtown Dallas stands out as a signature project.
According to its website, Todd Interests adheres to a very specific modus operandi: “We look for real estate anomalies, that one iteration others do not focus on or perhaps have never been aware of its existence. Therein is the opportunity.” At Fairfield Lake, Shawn Todd found that one iteration.
On April 21, 2022, Todd Interests submitted an offer to buy Fairfield Lake, and the property went to contract.
News of the pending sale quickly became a public relations nightmare for the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife. Not only had the agency’s decision to not buy Fairfield Lake cost the citizens of Texas a popular park, but 2023 marked the centennial of the state park system.
According to published reports, Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife Commission Chairman Arch Aplin made several unsuccessful overtures to both Vistra Corp. and Todd Interests after the property was under contract to buy the parkland or the entire listing. During the 2023 legislative session, several bills were filed in the Texas Legislature to condemn the property for use as a state park. None made it out of committee.
Such an outcome should come as no surprise in the Lone Star State. Following the Supreme Court’s calamitous 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London, the Texas Legislature passed the Property Rights Act to ensure the protection of private real property rights in Texas.