McKinney’s population is on the cusp of breaking the 200,000 mark, showing a 49% increase in residents over the last 10 years.
“What I find most interesting is, and it’s probably the most relevant to us as staff, is the demographic change,” McKinney City Manager Paul Grimes said.
The city has grown across all different ethnic groups, with the largest increase in population coming with a 356% increase in the city’s Asian residents, Grimes said. This was followed by the Black or African American population, which grew by 85%, with white and Hispanic resident growth trailing in comparison, per data from the census.
“We are becoming a magnet for people from all over the world,” Grimes said. “People from all heritages and cultures come here because the jobs are here. This is where the work is, the quality of life is very good, [and] it’s a great place to raise a family.”
As McKinney grows, city staff are planning for the increased demand for public services. The new data will also help with its upcoming redistricting process. This will redraw the boundaries for areas that certain members of City Council represent so there is a more even distribution of the population.
“It’s really important to ... know how many folks we have in our community for purposes of political representation, among other things,” Grimes said.
Redistricting in McKinney
McKinney has four districts, which must be divided into approximately equal populations, the city manager said. The goal is to maintain minority voting strength within districts to ensure these voices are not diluted among the rest of the voting population, said Justin Beller, who represents District 1 on the McKinney City Council.
“District 1 was created for that purpose, and so there is a lot of value ... and there’s a need to maintain that political power,” Beller said.
The local redistricting process must take place shortly after the decennial census, Grimes said. The city has authorized a legal firm to start work on that. A presentation is expected this winter or spring with the proposed new districts, he said.
The district boundaries were last drawn in 2011 to include roughly 35,000 people in each district. District 1, where less than 50% of residents were white in 2011, was identified as a minority-majority at that time.
Estimates show that each district will soon have about 50,000 people to account for McKinney’s population of nearly 200,000, Grimes said.
“We don’t do gerrymandering here, fortunately,” he said. “It’s really making just a cogent approach to balancing the population and making sure that we have fair representation.”
Growing with a plan
While McKinney’s population has certainly grown in the last 10 years, it has more than tripled in the last 20 years, increasing from about 54,300 to just over 198,000, data shows.
The growing city has attracted several projects, including new entertainment areas off SH 121, a more than 1,000-acre housing community and east side redevelopment.
This development happens with a plan, said McKinney Planning Manager Aaron Bloxham. His department creates zoning codes and development regulations, and it walks potential projects through the process of development. Every 10 years, the planning department updates its comprehensive plan, with amendments made in the interim. The most recent plan was adopted in 2018 and outlines areas of growth and where future development is appropriate.
“We’re tasked with, especially through our comprehensive plan, trying to provide for orderly growth,” he said. “So making sure that we can provide services—police service, fire service, all of that.”
For instance, the city had planned the SH 121 corridor to be an area for mixed-use and entertainment places, because the tollway could help the denser development that comes with it, Bloxham said. Developers have seen that information and used it to help judge where to put their products within the city, he said.
It is a necessary document, as estimates show the city will continue to grow, Bloxham said. McKinney is expected to have about 284,000 residents by 2040, reports show, an increase of more than 80,000 people. About 29% of land in the city is undeveloped. At buildout, the city is estimated to be home to 350,000 to 400,000 people.
“There’s not an end in sight,” he said. “There’s a lot of undeveloped land within the city still. And so there’s plenty of room to grow.”
Adapting to change
While a growing population does involve some pains, overall, it is a positive thing, Grimes said. Benefits include the schools getting more students, which means more revenue locally, as well as increased opportunities for the city to explore grants and funding.
McKinney’s population is also young, with a median age of 37.2, which signals the city will continue to have a productive workforce. This helps with local economic development opportunities, Grimes said.
But the city is going to have to change as it continues to grow, Beller said, calling it a “daunting” challenge. Many McKinney residents want the city to stay the same as it was when they first came, but about a third of the population only arrived in the last 10 years, Beller said.
“It makes for a pretty tall task for us as representatives to ensure that we are holding to what McKinney has been for so many, but also building what McKinney can be for so many others that will continue to move here,” he said.
Parts of the city are still in flux, making planning for the city’s growth a challenge, Bloxham said. This includes the upcoming US 380 alignment and what the Texas Department of Transportation will do as it looks at creating a bypass around the highway. This project has the potential to change some of the land uses in the area, Bloxham said.
Additionally, the city is also trying to tackle the issue of adding more diversified housing, Grimes said. McKinney had commissioned a study to examine options for affordable housing, and in September, Mayor George Fuller suggested holding a workshop to look at strategies to add more housing options to the city. The growth and population only come when housing is provided for everyone, Grimes said.
The city has to examine all its offerings as it diversifies, he said.
“When you have a more diverse population, that means folks from some communities or some age groups or whatever are going to have different needs and have different desires than where it was in the last decade. And so we have to adapt to that,” he said.
According to the 2020 census data, almost 93,000 people in McKinney identify as a race other than white.
The number of McKinney residents who identify as two or more races more than tripled from 2,631 in 2010 to 8,985 in 2020. According to the bureau, the percentage of people nationwide who reported multiple races changed more than all of the other race groups alone in 2020.
The bureau expects this increase is due to changes in the way the census asks respondents to identify themselves. Improvements to the design of two separate questions for race and ethnicity, data process, and coding enabled a more “thorough and accurate description of how people prefer to self-identify,” the bureau stated.
Increased diversity benefits the city as a whole, said Thana Trepetch, who owns the Spoon + Fork Thai restaurant in McKinney.
“A lot of customers never tried any Asian food, any Thai food at all, and then when we opened the restaurant, it was like a passport for them to try another cuisine,” she said. “Giving the community as a whole more diverse options, in terms of business, in terms of culture and in terms of cuisine, I think, is a good idea.”
She is part of Facebook groups where members of the Asian population discuss where to live in Texas. She said while having a diverse community is an important factor for some, finding a community with affordable homes and good schools continues to be a driving force for many people.
“People are going to continue coming into Texas as a whole,” she said. “Where they’re going to go depends on what the city has to offer.”
Erick Pirayesh contributed to this report.