New neon signs soon to light up McKinney’s cultural district


Three new neon signs will be installed in Historic Downtown McKinney starting this fall.

These signs are being installed to promote downtown, which received a Cultural District Designation from the Texas Commission on the Arts last year.

With this designation, McKinney is eligible for funding from the commission to enhance and promote downtown through signage. The McKinney Community Development Corp. has also approved grant funding for this project.

One sign stating “Historic Downtown McKinney Cultural District” will be placed on a pole near Mitchell Park, according to concept plans submitted to the city. This sign will be visible to traffic coming into downtown.

Another sign will be attached to the side of the new Chestnut Commons Parking Garage, located at 202 S. Chestnut St. This sign will be facing Chestnut, and will direct traffic into the garage for parking.

A third sign will be placed on the rooftop on the east side of the garage, facing SH 5.

“The sign would be angled to help capture a lot of traffic,” said Amy Rosenthal, McKinney Main Street program director, at a Sept. 3 City Council meeting. “There are 50,000 cars that travel on highway 5 each day, so [it is]really a visible sign to say, ‘Hey, we are open, and here we are.’”

The signs have been designed to fit the vintage feel of downtown McKinney, Rosenthal said. Inspiration for the signs was gathered from signage in other historic areas, such as those in downtown Austin, Deep Ellum and older signs in downtown McKinney.

“We wanted to honor our past; we wanted to [create a]sense of place; we wanted a photo op; and we wanted to show that we are open at night,” she said.

Prior to the Sept. 3 meeting, neon signs were prohibited in downtown McKinney, due to a city ordinance. However, the council made an exception to permit these signs and unanimously approved the request during the meeting.

Last year, a similar request for an electronic business sign was denied at an Aug. 21 City Council meeting. At the meeting, more than a dozen citizens voiced their opposition against the sign during a public hearing saying the sign would take away from the historic feel of downtown, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper coverage.

However, no one spoke in opposition of the new signs during the Sept. 3 meeting.

“These signs are not identifying a business; these signs are identifying a district,” Rosenthal said.

The new sign near Mitchell Park is expected to be complete by Nov. 25 in time for the Home For the Holidays event, which is set for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in downtown McKinney.

The other signs are expected to be complete at a later date.

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  1. I wish we could also clean up some of these shops on McDonald. The area has so much potential, but there’s a lot of riff-raff, low income, bilingual shops. How many dollar stores and Mexican delicatessens do we need on one street?

  2. Welcome to Vegas! Does anyone see the irony in neon signs announcing the Historic Cultural District?

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Emily Davis
Emily graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in multi-platform journalism and a minor in criminal justice in Spring 2018. During her studies, Emily worked as an editor and reporter at The Houstonian, SHSU's local newspaper. Upon graduation, she began an editorial internship at Community Impact Newspaper in DFW, where she was then hired as Community Impact's first McKinney reporter in August. Three fun facts about Emily: 1.) She is a lover of mystery novels, movies, TV shows and podcasts. 2.) She has an 11-year-old, 3-pound Pomeranian. 3.) She loves lacrosse, and was captain and then coach of her high school team.
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