After 27 years, the final piece of the Twin Creeks vision is coming into focus as the Allen City Council unanimously approved plans last week for Gateway Allen on SH 121.
The mixed-use project – adjacent to the Twin Creeks neighborhood, the Allen ISD STEAM Center and the Collin College Technical Campus – is designed to attract office tenants, urban residences, retailers and restaurants. The development will feature 16 acres of open space, including a common plaza for live music, festivals and events and more than six and a half acres of trails and natural amenities dubbed Gateway Forest, according to a city release.
The topography of the property was a key feature in the plans for the property, according to developer David Hicks, who said Twin Creeks wanted to be “good stewards” of the land and maintain its character.
“Many of the areas that we’ve seen developed in Allen have been former cotton fields,” he said. “This is a very unique area with topography with water flowing through it.”
That flowing water – No Name Creek, the moniker itself a unique feature – offers a serene backdrop that developers hope to enhance with benches, shade structures and trails throughout the heavily wooded area.
Director of Community Development Marc Kurbansade described the creek as the “jewel of the property.”
“When we were out there on that property and viewing that site, we absolutely said ‘you have to have units that walk out onto this’,” he told council members. “It has to be open to everybody to be able to get to this portion of the property because it really is a special open space.”
Three zones will comprise the new development: Ridgeview / Exchange, which will be urban residential; Exchange Parkway with a hotel and retail space; and Tollway East, which could house corporate space.
Hicks said the urban residential space on the southwest corner was designed with the existing Twin Creeks residents in mind. He said the space between developments is two-thirds the length of a football field across Ridgeview Drive, and rather than constructing a traditional masonry wall, the area will be heavily landscaped.
“Being the ones who initially developed Twin Creeks, we have not forgotten about our residents down here,” he said.
“I think we’ve been good corporate citizens for the last 27 years here in Allen. I think we’ve delivered a great project in Twin Creeks. This is one of the final phases of Twin Creeks, and frankly we’ve saved the best for last.”
Among the planned construction is Cope Equities’ multi-use building, planned to be the tallest in Allen at 12 stories. Plans call for 150,000 square feet of office space, approximately 60 luxury residential condominiums, retail and restaurant space at the corner of the tollway area along 121. Additionally, near the Gateway Forest area, Dallas-based Plush Suites plans to build an upscale extended-stay hotel, the company’s second location in DFW. Its first all-suite hotel is under construction north of Galleria Dallas.
Council Member Chris Schulmeister said Gateway Allen is the type of project Allen needs to build the city’s commercial tax base in order to bring tax relief to residents, and the space is good fit for urban residential, or multifamily, housing. Council Member Lauren Doherty agreed.
“As I’m sure several people here know, I’ve voted against some things that have been proposed over the course of my tenure on this body, but mostly it’s because we are tasked with deciding whether that use is the highest and best use for the property, and as Mr. Schulmeister said, this kind of use is what is going to bring us the tax relief to our residents that, for me, is the definition of the highest and best use,” Doherty said.
Both staff and the Allen Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the project.