Frisco leverages data to shape future development

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Frisco has results from the second year of a three-year study that tracks where visitors spend their time in town and where residents go when they venture beyond the city limits.

Visit Frisco, the official destination marketing organization for the city, commissioned the study to find out where residents and visitors are spending their money. The results are expected to shape spending and development decisions for years to come.

“Everything that gets built here that we haven’t had before helps retain more of that dollar in Frisco,” Visit Frisco Executive Director Marla Roe said.

The study highlights the demand for food halls, breweries, a performing arts center, walkable areas and other entertainment venues.

“The last 10 years has been about  Frisco building up its sports presence,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said. “The next 10 years is going to be Frisco rounding out the arts and entertainment and becoming known for that.”

Visit Frisco and city officials said new developments underway could bring more of the amenities residents want.

To track residents and visitors, Buxton, a data analytics company, created virtual boundaries at hotels and key  attractions in Frisco to track GPS alerts from mobile devices.

Buxton identified residents and visitors from repeated behavioral patterns and households within Frisco’s city limits.

What residents want

Legacy West along with Legacy Hall, The Shops at Legacy and The Boardwalk at Granite Park all rank among the top five locations for residents leaving Frisco. Nebraska Furniture Mart and WinStar World Casino are the other two.

“To know that we’re losing residential business to Plano probably is kind of a little jab,” said Jake Sillavan, the digital marketing research manager for Visit Frisco.

Each of the Plano locations offers pedestrian-friendly areas, which Sillavan and Roe said are highly sought after by consumers in general.

“Before we had The Star [in Frisco], one of the things we were missing the most before Legacy West happened was that walkability factor,” Roe said.

And though The Star added more walkability to Frisco, the city is reinforcing the trend by placing pedestrian-friendly spaces at the heart of every current and future development, Cheney said.

“We’re planning everything around that,” Cheney said.

In the Rail District in downtown Frisco, current sidewalk widening renovations are meant to increase walkability near retail and dining and into nearby neighborhoods, he said. This is in addition to the 10% in open space required for every development.

In addition to walkability, a historic downtown feel is an important element for consumers, Roe said.

“That’s why downtown McKinney rises up,” Roe said. “Because it’s that old, historic feel versus the new and shiny like The Star and Legacy West.”

Downtown McKinney ranks No. 7 among the places where residents go when leaving Frisco. The average resident spent about 1 1/2 hours in downtown McKinney, according to the report.

That insight struck a chord with Cheney and reinforced the city’s efforts in revitalizing downtown Frisco’s historic district, he said.

“[We spoke at the City Council work session on June 27] about the importance of our downtown and building a strong presence in our historical downtown and Rail District,” Cheney said. “We’ve made that one of our top priorities to invest money down there.”

In coming years, the firm Nack Development will bring four projects to the area: The Tower at The Rail, The Calaboose, the Nack Theater and The Patios at the Rail. These projects will offer luxury townhouses, retail, dining and a theater.

Before renovations and additions begin, Visit Frisco will collect similar GPS data in downtown Frisco to see what present areas residents and visitors frequent.

Arts and entertainment

Entertainment venues, such as the American Airlines Center, AT&T Stadium and WinStar World Casino made it on residents’ top out-of-town destinations as well.

“Many of our residents are looking for unique experiences; they’re looking for entertainment,” Cheney said. “They’re looking for destinations, and that falls in line with what we’ve been trying to create as a city.”

One of the most recent projects in Frisco includes Music Street Frisco, a $40 million entertainment complex on Dallas Parkway, which Cheney said is going to enhance the city’s arts and live music presence. The complex is slated to be complete in early 2020, he said to Community Impact Newspaper at the groundbreaking.

Music Street could be a recurring destination for groups—unlike other city destinations, which Sillavan said visitors and residents tend to visit a few times and lose interest.

“This just kind of shows [that]people go to these places more often on a regular basis than what we have implanted right now in Frisco,” Sillavan said.

A performing arts center is on Frisco’s horizon as well. In 2015, voters approved $10 million in bonds for a performing arts center. Frisco ISD voters approved a $43 million bond measure for a fine arts center in 2018.

City and school district officials have discussed partnering together on a project, but no plans have been made.

A performing arts center has been a topic of high interest in Frisco for years. Cheney said it is at the top of his to-do list as mayor.

More on the way

For Frisco to think bigger, Cheney said pulling these elements into large, mixed-use developments is the city’s next step.

Grand Park will be a “next level” project for Frisco, he said. The 350-acre regional park has been on hold for more than a decade. However, construction could begin in 2022, according to a city presentation at a June council work session.

The project is expected to combine commercial, retail and parks projects all in one, which Cheney said has not been done very often in Frisco. The city is also considering an amphitheater in the park, he said.

“We feel like we’re setting Frisco up to fill the needs of our residents, but [also]for the region as well who want to experience Frisco in different ways,” Cheney said.

Another mixed-use development in northwest Frisco will combine elements residents and visitors want. A portion of the 2,500-acre Fields development will hold the PGA headquarters, an Omni resort hotel, retail, dining and thousands of homes.

The development will add even more walkability, retail and dining Frisco residents currently seek, Roe said, adding onto success the city has seen with The Star’s entertainment district.

Just south of Frisco Square, a piece of land called Frisco Junction may hold a development that could rival Legacy Hall.

Ron Patterson, the president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp., said at the June council work session that a developer may be interested in a food hall concept.

Roe said a food hall would be successful in Frisco.

“When you look at those big food courts, people like to go into a facility like that and have options,” Roe said.

The FEDC is unable to share details about the Frisco Junction project, said Leigh Lyons, the director of marketing and communications, in an email. But Cheney said the idea is a “very high priority” for the city.

Moving forward, a brewery or winery could be the city’s next step. Communications Manager Wesley Lucas said Visit Frisco’s most common questions from residents are about the possibility of a brewery or winery.

“We need that signature add on of a brewery or a winery,” Lucas said.

Frisco did not have this opportunity until August 2018, when Frisco City Council amended a zoning ordinance to allow brewpubs within city limits.

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