The developer behind a long-planned Plano mixed-use project suffered a setback after the city rejected the company's request to reduce the amount of retail space in the plan.

Plano City Council on Aug. 10 voted down the developer’s requested changes for the Beacon Square property by a 4-4 vote. The rejected changes included additional live-work units in place of some of the retail stores that had been featured in the original plans.

The developer, Billingsley, has had approval to build out the property since the current zoning was approved in 2014.

Billingsley has yet to build on the property, located near Coit Road and President George Bush Turnpike, but the developer has recently indicated it is interested in moving forward with the first phases of construction.

The attempt to move away from retail was partly a response to the industry’s struggles during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, the developer told planning and zoning commissioners in July. The development’s main street would have been most affected by the change.

“This is an interior street and spinal road without visibility,” Lucy Billingsley, a partner with the company, wrote in a letter to the city. “We do not believe retail can be leased or succeed in this location in today’s world.”

Council Member Anthony Ricciardelli said he could not support the request because the retail uses on a main street were a key amenity for existing residents. This amenity is what would justify the new density outlined in the original plan, he said.

In place of some of these retail concepts, the developer proposed incorporating nine more live-work units, which provide space for small businesses to operate near multifamily housing units. These live-work units would have been flexible enough to hold commercial space—retail or office—or living space, said Eric Hill, a senior planning manager for the city.

Requiring the same amount of retail approved in the original plan would be “questionable in the current market,” Development Review Planner Donna Falletta told commissioners in July.

Billingsley also requested approval for changes to accommodate additional green space and an LA Fitness location on the property. Council Member Rick Smith said the fitness center would be a less than ideal use, as it would be set apart from the heart of property.