When driving around McKinney, residents can frequently find signs reading “Shopping center coming soon” posted on empty plats of land or “Space for lease” signs in front of ongoing construction.

There are at least 24 shopping centers under construction, three recently opened centers and 23 proposed centers in McKinney, according to a Community Impact Newspaper analysis. These centers include tenants ranging from a Walmart Neighborhood Market to Shipley Do-Nuts, McKinney Coffee Co., 24 Hour Fitness, nail salons and more.

“It’s hard to pinpoint one reason for why these [shopping centers] are popping up, but it’s definitely an encouraging sign because it means something that [the city and the McKinney Community Development Corp. are] doing is paying off,” said Michael Quint, executive director of development services for the city of McKinney.

This growth can also be related to efforts from the MCDC to attract businesses and developers as well as efforts from the city in working to streamline the development process, Quint said. The strength of the economy and the city’s changing demographics could also contribute to the increase, he said.

From January through July 2017 the city of McKinney approved 54 nonresidential and vertical mixed-use permits. In the first three quarters of 2016, the city approved 42 nonresidential and vertical mixed-use permits.

Nonresidential permits are issued for developments that do not include a residential component but can include industrial, retail, office and restaurant use. Vertical mixed-use permits include buildings that have one or two floors of nonresidential uses with additional floors above that have a residential component.

“We’re [a city of] 175,000 people, and when you look at going back to the revenues, 70-75 percent of our revenues are from property tax. That means there are a lot of people here,” Quint said. “When you look at the demographics, there’s a fair amount of expendable income. [The retail developments] should be here, so maybe it’s just catching up.”

Increasing demand

As the McKinney population continues to grow, demand from residents for more retail and restaurants grows.

“If you talk to any average citizen out there it’s, ‘We need more places to eat. We need more places to shop. I don’t want to go to Frisco. I don’t want to go to Plano. I don’t want to go to Allen,’” Quint said. “Some of this [development] I would like to think is a result of that. Folks are taking notice of McKinney.”

To meet this growing demand, small businesses, such as E.J. Wills, a restaurant and pub, are looking to open in McKinney. E.J. Wills has a Dallas location, but in the fall the restaurant expects to open a new location in McKinney.

Joy Booth, co-owner and director of social media and community engagement for E.J. Wills, said she and her husband have lived in McKinney since 2015.

“McKinney was where we wanted to open originally because we live here, and the timing is right now because construction is nearing completion,” Booth said. “When we moved here we did feel like there were quite a lot of options in downtown McKinney, but living over near [US] 380 and Stonebridge [Drive], we saw the options were fairly limited. … We just felt like we could offer it all, and we just wanted to find the right location to do that.”

E.J. Wills will be located at the corner of US 380 and Stonebridge Drive in a new retail development near the  Stonebridge Ranch neighborhood.

McKinney sees influx of new restaurants, retail centers

Following the trend

According to city officials, the trend of a growing number of smaller retail developments has been seen in McKinney over the past three to five years.

“We’re seeing smaller centers develop closer to the rooftops, closer to where you live,” said Bill Cox, chairman of the McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission. “Rooftops and buying habits are really what’s driving where centers are developed.”

The MCDC and city of McKinney have also taken steps toward attracting new businesses, Quint said.

In early 2017 the MCDC hired The Retail Coach, a national retail analytics and locational intelligence firm that focuses on retail market analysis and recruitment, to conduct an opportunity analysis on the city of McKinney and its nearby retail trade area. The study used 2016 data, which was the most recent data available. The retail trade area includes McKinney and portions of Fairview, Princeton, Celina and Prosper.

The study showed the retail trade area brought in approximately $2.7 billion across all retail markets in 2015 but had the potential for $5.8 billion in retail sales. This results in about $3 billion of “sales leakage,” or loss of sales.

“Your daytime employment has to be there for these restaurants,” said Miles Prestemon, chief operating officer of Craig Ranch, a mixed use development in McKinney. “That’s why Independent Bank is crucial when you’ve got 1,300 new employees coming there; that’s going to drive that lunch crowd.”

Independent Bank announced in late-July it will build a new $52 million corporate headquarters at the McKinney Corporate Center in Craig Ranch.

The increase in retail and restaurant centers will also result in a larger sales tax base for the city of McKinney.

“Any time you can get retail, it creates tax dollars, and it creates money for streets, police, MEDC and [McKinney Community Development Corp.]. Everybody wins,” Cox said. “It’s the old ‘spend your money locally’ adage, and that’s still true. Any time you can buy in McKinney, we’d love for you to buy in McKinney.”