The western part of the city is getting a lot of attention for its urban growth, especially with a number of large corporations announcing their movement to the area. However, with recent agreements approved by the City Council, downtown Plano is preparing for its next phase of growth.
Earlier this week, development agreements were reached between the city and private developers to add a variety of housing stock to the downtown district: One, plans to add single family houses in Rice Field, near G Avenue and 18th Street; the other is to tear down Municipal Center South, which houses the Parks and Recreation Department offices in order to build mixed-use apartment developments. City staff hope the increase in residential opportunities will help drive more commercial and retail businesses to the area, aiding the growth of downtown.
“We feel like we are reaching the critical mass in residential ... in the downtown area to drive social activity and so on,” said Frank Turner, deputy city manager. “It’s just now getting to where space and rents and so on are balancing out, that it is attracting new people to downtown businesses.”
The Municipal Center South building, along with some nearby buildings will be removed to allow for a 2-acre apartment development. The two planned five-story apartment buildings will be developed similar to existing projects in the area, with retail, restaurant and live and work space on the first floor and residential on above floors. The development is with a subsidiary of Southern Land Company, which is responsible for the Junction 15 project that recently began opening to the south of Haggard Park.
According to the development agreement, the developer will build a minimum of 175 residential units, and at least two of the retail spaces will be developed for restaurant use. A parking garage will be constructed with additional public uses to accommodate for the loss of the existing parking lot to the west of Municipal Center South. The agreement also states that Southern Land must begin the project by September.
As part of the agreement, the city will convey the $1.7 million municipal center property to Southern Land. Plano will also reimburse the developer for a portion of the parking spots in the planned garage and for up to $200,000 for the demolition of the existing property. Southern Land Company will be eligible for up to $1.25 million in public improvements to the property from the city.
“Part of the property ... [is] within the downtown Plano Heritage District – they will have to acquire a certificate of appropriateness for the development that will be on that part of the property,” said Phyllis Jarrell, Plano director of special projects, at a City Council meeting Monday.
According to the development agreement for the 5.2-acre Rice Field development, a minimum of 60 single family-detached houses will be built on the property. The city plans to reimburse the developer for up to $250,000 in public improvement costs. Turner said the development will add to the full range of housing stock in the downtown area, allowing residents from all walks of life to find living space in the area.
Construction on Rice Field is expected to begin in July.
“We want to be cautions in not over expanding the commercial in downtown,” Turner said. “We definitely see the growth of downtown going south towards 14th [Street]. ... The core portion of downtown is highly developed, and now we’re looking south.”
Master plans of the downtown area, approved in 2013, show the district moving south, especially as the CityLine development in Richardson begins to open in Richardson, near the Plano border. The city is also planning to open a station near 12th Street for the future Cotton Belt corridor train that would connect Plano with Fort Worth.
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