City officials shift focus to east side

In the early 2000s city officials became concerned with the state of the aging SH 5 corridor and began looking at ways to encourage redevelopment. As part of this effort the city began its Town Center Study in 2006 and its offshoot, the SH 5 Corridor Study in 2013, both of which outline plans and designs that encourage revitalization of McKinney’s east side.

“Everything you see on Highway 5 as far as redevelopment and even into downtown and the downtown square reconstruction that happened back in 2008 is all the result of the Town Center Study,” said Planning Manager Jennifer Arnold. “It really sets the vision for what we are wanting that area to become.”

[polldaddy poll=8909161]

In May council members heard
proposals from two possible developers for the city’s 9-acre downtown plot, requested funding for a SH 5 revamp and approved the location and
preliminary design of a downtown parking garage.

New development

In February the city issued a request for qualifications from firms interested in redeveloping a 9-acre site that was once home to a county courthouse and annex building. Seven applications were received, three interviews were held and the final two firms—Columbus Realty Partners and Provident Realty Advisors—were asked to present their qualifications to City Council during the May 19 council meeting.

Both firms have experience in revitalizing older neighborhoods. Columbus is responsible for redevelopment of Uptown in Dallas as well as Plano’s Legacy West development.

“We wouldn’t have pursued this unless we were fundamentally optimistic,” said Columbus President Robert Shaw. “This project is market-oriented, and I think with 9 acres it can accommodate rental, sale, ground-floor retail and office space. Nine acres is a lot to work with, and it would be a lot of fun planning.”

Provident has experience in converting historic buildings into upscale lofts and apartments in Louisiana. Provident spokesman Matt Harris said the city’s plans were feasible, adding that his company could help bring those plans to reality and would even consider adding another possible parking garage on the 9-acre site.

The next step in the process includes selecting a firm and moving forward with the planning process, which could take place this summer.

According to city officials, the development must include 50,000 square feet of office space; 20,000 square feet of retail, restaurants or similar businesses; 300 residential units; and some element of public parking in order to adhere to the Town Center Study.

Roadway makeover

SH 5 was on the council’s radar May 5 as council approved preliminary design plans to expand the roadway, creating a boulevard with median and buffered bike lanes.

City officials say this reconstruction will help spur eventual redevelopment of the area and help it become the city’s town center.

The State Highway 5 Corridor Study was approved by City Council in June 2014, and since then the
city has been seeking funding that will allow reconstruction on certain segments of SH 5, beginning with
the downtown section from Hunt to Davis streets, Arnold said.

“The goal of the [Town Center Study and the Highway 5 Corridor Study] is to revitalize the authentic urban feel of downtown McKinney and
expand [downtown] east of SH 5 to the historic Flour Mill,” Arnold said. “Right next to the flour mill it is anticipated that we will eventually have a passenger light rail transit stop. So the reconstruction of
SH 5 is to further that town center goal. Everything we are doing downtown right now is to expand
that quality of life, feel and vibe of downtown further.”

The estimated cost of construction is $8.9 million. The city requested $3 million in TxDOT funding f
or the reconstruction, which could take another  one to two years to begin.

According to McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller, the SH 5 reconstruction will be a catalyst to new development near downtown.

“The residents, the developments and the city will all benefit from that reconstruction,” he said. “The potential for reinvestment is huge. A lot of the people who live in east McKinney have complaints that revolve around lack of services—grocery stores, businesses, banks. But as we improve the infrastructure, we should see more of those developments move in.”

The city has adopted new zoning standards that will apply to any new businesses being developed along the corridor. Those standards will maintain that any new buildings must adhere to design standards that complement the look and feel of the
downtown square.

City officials shift focus to east sideParking garage taking shape

While the city continues its efforts on the east and south sides of the square, city officials officially selected a site and preliminary design plan for a much-discussed parking garage at the May 5 council meeting.

Plans for the garage include six levels—one below ground and five above ground—with more than 400 parking spaces. Drivers will have access from both Louisiana and Virginia streets with two exit lanes onto Church Street that allow drivers traveling east and west to have access to and from the square.

The project is expected to cost roughly $12 million and will be paid for with $3 million from the 2010 bond election, and, if approved, the remaining dollars would be funded by this November’s
$160 million bond election. The project would be complete by 2017.

“I think it is going to bring a lot of looks downtown by [interested] developers both on and off the square,” Loughmiller said.