The development of Tivona Event Center, an event center project in McKinney, is moving forward.

McKinney City Council members unanimously approved a site plan for the project at an April 2 meeting, with council members Patrick Cloutier and Rick Franklin absent.

The specifics

The project is located on 14 acres at the southwest corner of Virginia Parkway and Lake Forest Drive.

The approved site plan included three total buildings situated adjacent to each other on the southeast corner of the site. The buildings each encompass just under 15,000 square feet, for a total of 44,784 square feet across all three buildings, with a building height of 35 feet tall.

The plan includes over 450 parking spaces distributed across the total site. The event center would also back up to homes in the Stone Brooke Crossing neighborhood.

Owner and developer Sanjay Joshi said the venue will be a “high-end property” and “very luxurious.” The venue, which will have a capacity of over 500 people, will be used to host events, such as weddings and graduations, he said.

“The building that we’re going to be developing, it is not like a Motel 6 kind of product,” Joshi said. “It’s going to be very high end, so ... McKinney residents can be proud.”

Construction on the project is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2025, Joshi said. The project is expected to result in the creation of over 100 jobs, he said.

“There will be a pretty good amount of sales tax which the city will be collecting from us, there will be a property tax, so we're going to be doing our part to support the community,” Joshi said.

How we got here

Rezoning requests for the project have been previously considered by the McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission and the McKinney City Council in 2020.

A prior rezoning request was withdrawn before being considered for action at a December 2020 council meeting. The rezoning would have allowed for the development of one large building, rather than three smaller buildings due to a stipulation in the existing zoning limiting any building on the site to 15,000 square feet, according to city documents.

The project was considered again in 2022 when a concept plan was submitted and received approval at a February 2022 council meeting.

A site plan for the project returned for consideration at a March 12 meeting of the planning and zoning commission, where it was tabled. It was later given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the commission at a March 26 meeting, prior to being considered by City Council members April 2.

The existing zoning allows for the development of an event center, and the current site plan complies with the existing zoning on the site, Director of Planning Jennifer Arnold said at the council meeting. Joshi said he pursued changes to the site plan to comply with the existing zoning after not receiving approvals for development in previous years. The new plan will be better for guests of events at the facility, Joshi said, but is more expensive to build.

Instead of a rezoning request, the item was most recently considered for an “administrative” approval, Arnold said. The need for the approval is due to the existing zoning on the property, which was implemented in 1997 and requires the approval from both the City Council and the planning and zoning commission, she said.

What they’re saying

Community members and residents of the adjacent neighborhood spoke about concerns related to the development at all of the recent meetings where the project was being considered.

Additionally, over 50 citizen comments and letters of opposition were submitted to the council regarding the project. Comments from community members included concerns about the size of the buildings, the event center use, the impact to nearby property values, and the potential for increased traffic and noise, among others.

“The addition of an event center at the entrance to our community will increase traffic and noise, create a much less safe walking and driving environment, and encroach on our privacy as a neighborhood,” McKinney resident Kristin Bartholomew said in a submitted citizen comment that was included as part of the agenda item.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller noted that because a rezoning request is not being considered, there is no “leverage” for the nearby residents to negotiate with the developer for changes to the site, unlike during previous rezoning requests.

In response to a question from Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Philips, City Attorney Mark Houser said the council had the power to take any action they wanted, but choosing to not approve the item could have “significant ramifications” based on the submitted site plan, which met all city standards.

“[The residents] don’t want an event center there, which I understand,” council member Geré Feltus said. “It’s a beautiful piece of property that’s been a green space for a long time. Of course we would all love to mandate that only office space could go there but ... the property owner has a lot more rights than that.”