In 1999, the Shops at Legacy ushered in a new brand of development that put Plano on the map along an undeveloped stretch of the Dallas North Tollway.
The shops are part of Legacy Town Center, a 168-acre master-planned development of urban-style homes, boutiques and restaurants that has since created a domino effect of interest from developers looking at vacant land to the north, according to real estate brokers and developers. As earth is being turned nearby at the future site of Legacy West, other transactions are being made along the nearly 8-mile stretch of SH 121, a corridor that has remained relatively dormant in the years since the Shops at Legacy was built.
“The creation of [Legacy] Town Center represents the first instance of the town center concept to an existing business development [in Plano],” said Sally Bane, Plano Economic Development executive director. “The ‘new urbanism’ principles applied in the original Town Center will be equally successfully applied to its extension, Legacy West.”
Regional commerce attraction
The neighboring cities of Frisco and The Colony have seen their respective stretches of SH 121 become landing zones for major development as well.
The Colony’s Grandscape mixed-use development sits on more than 400 acres and includes Nebraska Furniture Mart, which is expected to bring in 8 million shoppers per year, said Keri Samford, economic development director with The Colony. As Legacy West is to Plano, Grandscape is expected to assist in The Colony’s growth, Samford said.
“It’s the front door to our community,” she said. “… [Grandscape] will be a real destination.”
At the same time, the largest Volkswagen dealership in the country—Hendrick Volkswagen Frisco—opened in April along SH 121. Nearby, Crest Auto Group is building three more dealerships—Cadillac, Infiniti and Volvo—on a 35-acre plot, which will include a car wash and collision repair center.
Hot spot for development
Interest from prospective new corporations at Legacy West has exceeded the expectations of FedEx Office and Toyota campus developer, KDC Vice President Colin Fitzgibbons said.
While he said he could not predict what kind of impact Legacy West will have on the area, KDC’s other large-scale projects have shown similar ripple effects in terms of spurring additional corporate development in the area.
“What I think will happen and what I’m hearing is that [when] these huge whales of companies [like Toyota and FedEx] put a location down … [we see] a lot of other companies that either already do business with them or are trying to do business with them starting to see what else is nearby,” Fitzgibbons said. “We also see smaller companies leasing up buildings that are already available nearby, and I think that will continue over the next few years.”
Heading northward from Preston to Custer roads, for sale signs dot the frontage road along SH 121 in Plano. Hundreds of acres are up for grabs to be turned into anything from office buildings and retail to townhomes and restaurants.
With construction of Plano Crossing, which is at Ohio Drive and SH 121, now complete, Scott Rogers, DuWest Realty vice president of leasing, is in the process of finding retailers for 30,000 square feet of retail at Ohio Drive. Tenants so far include Hard Knocks Laser Tag and Viceroy Indian Restaurant, both scheduled to open this fall.
“It is a very good location. There’s a lot going on along the [SH] 121 corridor,” Rogers said. “The only downside is that most [potential] tenants already have locations within a 1-mile radius. The challenge is finding new tenants that are coming to town and expanding those that are already within the Stonebriar Mall area.”
Attraction to the land along SH 121 has started to pick up, Duggan Realty President James Duggan said. He said his real estate brokerage firm has experienced increased interest from developers throughout the past four years.
In June, the company sold three pad sites—two for professional medical buildings and the other for a retail center—at Independence Parkway and SH 121. Duggan, a former Plano city councilmember, attributed this progress simply to favorable economic timing.
“We’re seeing quite a bit of activity out there recently. The whole [North Texas] region has had a lot of growth,” Duggan said. “It’s not just Nebraska Furniture Mart [and] it’s not just Legacy West. All of these [developments] are key factors but … timing is [also] a huge factor. We want to take advantage of the time that we have and be thankful for the next [few] years.”
Plano Tomorrow plan
The city’s working draft of the Plano Tomorrow comprehensive plan outlines the future for development and urban design for the next 20 years. Its land use map reveals potential for a mix of retail, office, restaurant, medical, hotel and technology-based uses from Rasor Boulevard to Custer Road.
Other employment centers like Granite Park at Legacy Drive and the Dallas North Tollway are expected to be built from Spring Creek Parkway to Preston Road and will provide corporate office campuses, medical centers and research facilities. Residential development is not considered appropriate within these centers, which will serve as the area’s primary role as an employment hub, according to the plan.
With 486 acres of undeveloped land left in Plano along SH 121, current city zoning encourages a range of commercial uses there, allowing the corridor to make a visible impact for the city for years to come, city Planning Director Christina Day said.
“We expect Toyota, FedEx and Liberty Mutual to inspire supporting companies to locate nearby within the next several years,” Day said.