As the city’s $5 Billion Mile continues to build along the Dallas North Tollway corridor, city planners are working to make sure the development is about more than glass, concrete and steel.
For years the city has been plotting a trail system that would provide connections throughout major commercial and residential developments in Frisco and to the surrounding cities.
Having a trail system and open space through developments help businesses by sustaining an environment that is desirable for employers and employees as well as the city’s residents, said John Lettelleir, the city’s director of development services.
“The trail system is an important part and always has been for the future development of Frisco,” Lettelleir said. “Trails, open space and even parks add value to properties, and that’s very important for the long term, and it’s important we keep that as stable as possible.”
When Frisco Station and The Gate were announced, Lettelleir said city leaders and staff recognized opportunities to connect developments using trails.
Lettelleir said the hike and bike trails within Frisco’s overall system will run through the $5 Billion Mile, lead up to the Starwood neighborhood and connect to future Grand Park, a planned 350-acre regional park that will spread out northeast from the corner of Legacy Drive and Stonebrook Parkway to the Dallas North Tollway. The trail will also eventually link to the Frisco Discovery Center.
The city of Frisco’s hike and bike master plan was established in 2002, said Rick Wieland, Frisco’s director of parks and recreation.
Wieland said the master plan is a living document, which is currently being revised.
Wieland said the goal of the master plan is connectivity providing linkages to schools, businesses, parks and open space.
There is no set date of completion of the trail system, Wieland said.[totalpoll id="200201"]
“It’s like a puzzle, and it takes a lot of forethought, and some of these developments don’t actually connect for years,” he said. “It’s just been working with developers to make the trail system a reality.”
However because of the city’s effort to plan for the hike and bike trail, Wieland said it has created an environment for people to want to come live and work.
“Ten years ago, this puzzle was not in place; Frisco was very disconnected and there was a lot frustrations,” he said. “But if you look at it today, we have miles of connectivity where back then we didn’t. There’s a huge difference.”
The master plan identifies trail types, including on-street and off-street routes.
Wieland said the most aesthetically pleasing trails are green way trails, which focus on the city’s existing topography.
As commercial and residential development takes place throughout the city, trails are built in the major creek corridors such as Rowlett Creek and Stewart Creek. Most of these trails follow the natural progression of the creeks.
The city also works with private developers to ensure the hike and bike master plan is implemented.
“People are a lot more active than what they were 10 or 15 years ago and they’re wanting these trails and open spaces to hike, bike, walk or run,” said Bill Woodard, Frisco City Council member and former Planning and Zoning Commission chairman. “That’s why it’s so important to have access to those areas within neighborhoods and commercial development.”
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children broke ground Oct. 19 on its new ambulatory care center located north of Wade Park.
The development will include large areas of trails and open space.
Don Katz, vice president of facilities and process design for the hospital, said green space and trails are crucial to becoming part of the Frisco community because it promotes family time and wellness.
Katz said tying the hospital campus to other parts of Frisco would be of interest because it encourages a family-friendly atmosphere the hospital strives for.
Having trails and open space in commercial developments is not new to Frisco.
Craig Hall, developer and owner of Hall Park, kicked off construction on the first office building in Frisco in 1997.
Now, Hall Park has 16 buildings with the 17th under construction to be completed by December 2017, creating a total of 2.5 million square feet of space in the office park.
The office park uses green space and walking trails. Along the office park’s trails, there are also lakes, ponds and landscaping.
“Recruiting and retaining employees is what we’re all about, and we want to help our tenants grow, and part of that is having an environment that is more than just an office space but something that provides a change of pace,” Hall said.
Jim Breitenfeld, an associate with commercial real estate firm Henry S. Miller, said efficient use of open space and trails within an office park is a major attractor for potential tenants.
“When an office park offers meaningful open spaces, it differentiates itself from other locations that may not offer that,” Breitenfeld said. “It provides a different experience and adds to the user experience, whether it’s an employee or resident.”
Hall said he is working with the city to help connect Hall Park to future developments within the $5 Billion Mile.
“Connectivity is critical for the city, and we are working with our neighbors to see how we can work together to connect our developments,” Hall said.
A larger plan
The city of Frisco is part of a Six Cities Trail plan established in 1999. The plan evolved into the Collin County Regional Trail master plan and was adopted in 2012.
Area city officials saw a need to work together to establish a joint plan that would link the trail systems in each city, Lettelleir said.
According to the plan, the trail system will go throughout Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Plano, Richardson and Garland once complete.
Lettelleir said it will be years before the regional trail is complete. The focus is to ensure that Frisco’s planned trails are defined and provide walkability for the residents as well as businesses, he said.
“People have a choice where they want to live or have their business; they can come to Frisco or someplace else, but it’s how we distinguish ourselves from other cities that will be the factor,” Lettelleir said.