In the past year, downtown has gained businesses, including Summer Moon Coffee, Countdown 2 Escape, The Heritage Table and Frisco Rail Yard.
A larger project planned for downtown is Patios at The Rail, a three-story building that will include two rooftop patios, a rooftop park, restaurants and an event center, as well as retail and office space. The project will include a parking garage.
“We want to make historical downtown a destination and we are looking for different areas where parking would be appropriate for the project and the public,” said Donny Churchman, president of Nack Development, which is developing Patios at the Rail. “The goal is to create a pedestrian experience, where people can find a place to park and spend all day [in downtown Frisco].”
Nack Development also plans to present another downtown project, called The Tower at The Rail, to the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission this summer. Churchman said he is planning a two-story building with retail on the bottom floor and restaurants on the top floor. The project also calls for eight luxury town houses that would surround the building and share open space with it.
“Downtown Frisco has grown the 100-plus years that it has been here, and we’ve had a parking problem in general,” said Mark Piper, president of the Downtown Merchants Association. “We have grown here recently very rapidly with the addition of [new businesses] so we’re bringing in a lot more people into downtown. As a result, we have conflicts with the residential neighbors.”
Piper, who owns Patti Ann’s Flowers on Main Street, said the main problem with parking is that people who are visiting the businesses and restaurants downtown are parking in front of residential homes on side streets rather than in designated city parking lots.
Piper said many people do not know where the public parking lots are and want to park as close as possible to the restaurants and businesses.
Matt Calloway, a local real estate agent who lives downtown and focuses his business in the downtown area, said he understands the parking issues from a resident and business perspective.
“The issue is that there’s no curb [along some of the residential streets], so people are parking up in [residents’] front yards or even parking on both sides of the streets that are already narrow, making it difficult for any car to pass through,” Calloway said.
Frisco Development Services Director John said the issue is not a lack of parking; rather it is getting people to realize where the public parking is.
He said though signage is available to direct drivers to parking lots, the signs are hard to see—an issue the city is working to improve.
“We need to work on being able to direct people where public parking is located, because once you start steering people in the right direction, it can solve the issue,” Lettelleir said. “As downtown develops, the city will work with developers to plan for parking so there is no parking shortage as new businesses come in.”
Solutions in Progress
Main Street business owners and city officials have been working on initiatives to help guide people to parking lots and provide additional parking.
Lettelleir said the city has already improved parking throughout the years, such as paving areas to provide more parking lots.
The city also keeps track of how much public parking is needed as new businesses move in, he said.
The city has developed a map and distributed it to business owners to inform customers about available parking.
Jessica Knoblock, eight|11 place owner, said she has discussed parking issues with the city, but she needed to solve the issue immediately for her customers and residents surrounding the restaurant.
Her solution was to have eight|11 place offer complimentary valet for its customers.
“[The valet parking] really has made a drastic difference in the parking situation as far as having happier residents near us,” Knoblock said.
Knoblock’s restaurant leases out the parking lot at Patti Ann’s for overflow parking.
“[As we’ve become] a booming business in downtown Frisco, we did realize that there is a major need for parking down here,” Knoblock said.
Education and Dialogue
Calloway, who also sits on the city’s downtown advisory board, said businesses, developers and the city will have to work together to solve the parking issue as downtown continues to grow.
“We have all this great stuff happening and so many more people want to come down here to experience the restaurants, and now the residents are going to be experiencing some growing pains,” Calloway said. “We can manage that now by educating people to park in city lots, working with business owners and having an open dialogue with the neighbors.”
One of the City Council’s top 10 goals for this year is to update the downtown master plan, which includes addressing parking, Lettelleir said.
“We want to make sure to put parking in the right space to maximize its use,” Lettelleir said. “We also want to make sure that parking is in a convenient location where people feel comfortable using it.”
Parking garages will likely be the best method for parking to enhance walkability in downtown, Lettelleir said. Parking garages offer the most parking and take up less space than surface parking. Lettelleir said the garages would have to meet certain standards to be built in downtown Frisco.
“It’s very important to have [the garages] blend in architecturally, and there’s a lot of good designs that have been done in other cities that most people wouldn’t know it was a parking garage,” Lettelleir said.
Calloway said he hopes future plans can show off the historic architecture while providing parking solutions.
“It’s important for us to find parking solutions as we continue to grow, because this growth is not going to stop anytime soon,” Calloway said.