My First Experience With Celina, Texas
I remember one of my first nights on patrol in Celina back in 1993, there was a pick up with some local boys in it, both in the cab and the bed. The boys in the bed had a lasso and were chasing some other boys around the square practicing roping. Having come from Dallas, I had never seen anything like this other than in the movies, but one thing was for sure: this was small-town America, and I loved it!
For the next three years, I worked as a Celina police officer after having spent five years in real estate. Of course, I never gave up real estate, but I did focus on serving the community as an officer. One thing I learned back then that still holds today is that Celina has some of the best, down to earth people as it’s residents. I used to love having everyone wave at you as you drove slowly pst them on the street. Even to this day, this still happens. To me, it validates my belief that Celina, Texas, is a great place to live.
Celina, Texas History
Celina, Texas was founded in 1876 just a little bit south of where the current downtown area of Celina is located today. As history has it, Celina’s first postmaster John T. Mulkey named the town Celina after Celina, Tennessee which happened to be his hometown. By 1884, Celina had a robust population of 150 people, one church and a mill along with a couple of general merchandise stores.
In 1902 the St. Louis, San Francisco, and Texas Railway reached the Celina area. Because of this, Celina citizens moved the town’s main street east toward the train tracks to where the town square is today. Five years later, in 1907, Celina became incorporated. One fascinating fact about Celina is that it had the first dedicated road in Collin County built exclusively for cars to be driven on called the Celina Pike. The little town of Celina started growing after World War II and has never really stopped. (https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjc06)
Celina Texas Growth
These days, Celina, Texas is one of those little Texas towns that is quickly becoming a hotspot for people who are moving in from out of state. Being located in what is called the “growth corridor” of North Texas, has undoubtedly helped Celina get on the map, but there is more to this little city that makes it so appealing to people. What is it about Celina that makes it so attractive? Stay tuned, and you will find out.
Being the little sibling of the bigger city of Frisco, Texas has helped many people find Celina as they do searches for “Celina TX homes for sale” or maybe “Celina TX weather.” You see, the bigger city of Frisco has made the fastest growing city in the United States list many times over the years. Frisco was the fastest-growing city in the United States in 2017, and also the fastest-growing city in the nation from 2000 to 2009. Being a very close neighbor to Frisco, Celina has a big future ahead of it as well.
Celina By The Numbers
The recent population numbers of Celina show that it is still a “small town,” but you can’t let those population numbers fool you. One might say that the growth is right around the corner. I remember when I first moved to the area in 1993, the population of Frisco was well under 20k and the population of Celina was about 1900. Today, the Celina, Texas population is estimated between 19 and 20k people with the average household at 3.2 people. The current projections for the population of Celina are about 130k people by 2030 and full buildout to be a total of about 350K residents who will call Celina their home.
But numbers are boring, and you want to know more about Celina, right? I don’t blame you. I came to Celina in 1993 as a police officer. And, I have to admit, not too many people knew where Celina is located. Immediately I was drawn in by the small, traditional downtown square with a sense of charm that I had not experienced in Dallas from where I had moved. Small, wood-framed homes lined the streets, there was nothing open after about 8 pm, and most of the police officers and all of the firemen were volunteers.
Modern Day Celina
Fast forward to today, and you will find that the small frame homes are still there, but they are surrounded by communities full of expansive, brick homes that range from 2500 to 5000 square feet on average. The giant ranch known as the Punk Carter Ranch for Quarterhorses is now a significant development called Carter Ranch (where I happen to live today.) And the vast areas of open pasture are slowly but surely getting filled in with retail centers, more housing developments, and new streets.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of small-town Celina here, and there will be for some time. Many acres of open farmland and pastures still exist, and the sunsets are always a fantastic thing to see. There are no large malls, no massive movie theaters and yet only a handful of schools, but that will change down the road. Perhaps being in a city like Celina in this phase of its growth is a good thing. One thing is for sure, buying a home in Celina right now is probably a fantastic thing to do based on the likely property values as the population booms.
Proof of the Celina still being a small town is the fact that even though . the total land area is over 70 square miles, the Celina zip code is still just 75009 for the entire city. And what about the weather in Celina? Well, it’s typical North Texas: hot in the summer and cool to cold in the winter. One thing for sure though is that just like Texas weather all over the state if you don’t like it right now, wait a few minutes and it will change.
Interestingly, the community turnout for city-related events is high in Celina. It seems that people just like me love the small town feel that Celina still offers. Some of the events that are held in the town each year include: CajunFest, Parkfest, Fri- day Night Farmer’s Markets, Movies on the Square, Splash and Blast 4th of July Celebration, Trick or Treat on the Square and Christmas on the Square and others. There has even been a Star Wars Day for the last few years, attended by tons of kids, including me!
These days, we have quite a few more Celina restaurants than we did back in the early ’90s when I first moved here. Celina is now home to the Tender Smokehouse (https://tendersmokehousebbq.com) has been rated the second best place to eat in the country according to -Yelp. Not only does Celina have better restaurants, but there are also more retail centers and service options as well. But don’t worry that corporate giants are running into Celina, Texas today; that just isn’t happening yet. You still see lots of open land, cows, and gorgeous skies.
Some of the favorite restaurants in Celina include:
Lucy’s on the Square
Rice & Noodle
Celina Star Cafe
Hairy Gorilla Snowballs
Celina Roads & Highways
There was a time, not too long ago, that the only way to get to Celina quickly was to travel up State Highway 289, or what is now known as Preston Road. These days if you ask for Celina directions, someone could tell you to take Preston Road or to go north on the North Dallas Tollway. It also helps to have US Highway 380 very close by running east and west between US 75 in McKinney and I-35 in Denton. No matter where you are coming from, or more importantly, going to, you have significant highways and roads leading to and from Celina. If you commute into Dallas, choose your route, stop in at Terry’s Donuts (http://terrysdonut.com) on the square and grab a cup of coffee and a donut for the road.
Celina Real Estate
Celina real estate has changed dramatically over the years as well. These days Celina is home to Carter Ranch Estates, Mustang Lakes, Bluewood, Light Farms, The Homestead at Ownsby Farms, Parkside, Lilyana, and others. Many builders choose to build in Celina as well including DR Horton, Highland Homes, David Weekley, Megatel Homes, American Legend, First Texas Homes, K. Hovnanian, Pulte, Matie Custom Homes, Drees, Britton, Paramount, MainVue Homes, and others. Celina’s average home value today is $429,705, quite a step up from just a decade ago. However, there are still plenty of options available in Celina for around 250K and at times, options available down to 150k. (https://www.celina-tx.gov/1183/About-us)
Along with all of the new construction options available, there are many historic or mid-century homes available as well. So, if you love the older, charming homes that are a part of the fabric of small-town America, the city of Celina certainly has some attractive real estate options like that as well. A quick drive around the downtown square will provide a real feel for the types of historic homes that Celina has to offer.
When people consider moving to any new area, they tend to concern themselves with things such as the property tax rate and schools. Currently, Celina enjoys a property tax rate of .645 per $100 of valuation for a combined total of 1.91% (which includes city, county, ISD, and community college taxes) -This is on the lower end of the spectrum for cities in Collin County.
The Celina ISD is considered a “destination” ISD as it serves students in Celina and several surrounding communities. Celina ISD has a scaled score of 90 and an A rating by the Texas Education Agency. Currently, there are two elementary schools (Celina Elementary and O’Dell Elementary), a 6th-grade center, a middle school (Celina Junior High) and one high school (Celina High School) in the district.
Sports in Celina, Texas
The Celina High School football team has achieved eight state titles and held a record 68-game winning streak. The Celina Bobcats were the subject of the documentary The Power, Passion and Glory. Celina won state football championships in 1974, 1995, 1998–2001, 2005, and 2007. Indeed, Celina football has been the stuff that movies are made about.
If you want to experience small-town America at it’s finest, get involved in Celina football. Go to a game, buy an orange Bobcats t-shirt, and cheer the team on. It’s an experience that you will always remember. Unfortunately, its something that is getting harder and harder to find anymore. The good news? It’s alive and well in Celina, Texas.
To me, living in Celina, Texas, and working each day on Celina real estate is a huge blessing. I have never regretted coming to this once tiny town of just 1900 people and watching it grow to where it is today. And just where is it today? It’s a fast-growing community of really great people that has a rich history and a bright future.
If you want to live in a place that has a small town feel but is located close to major highways and roads that can take you quickly into Dallas or another surrounding community, Celina is a great option. Do you love sports? Check out Celina high school football. Want a family-friendly event to attend on a Friday night? The chances are that Celina has something going on for you.
One of the lower effective property tax rates and some great schools make Celina a “top of the list” option to consider for a new home. Speaking of homes, the Celina real estate market is pretty hot -if you have a Celina Realtor that knows what they are doing. Of course, I am always happy to help people move to my town, the one I call home, Celina. I know that in short order, you will be very proud to call Celina, Texas your home too.
I’ll see you on the square soon!