These types of developments tend to operate as “live, work, play” areas where foot traffic is dominated by workers and shoppers during the day, and restaurant-goers and entertainment-seekers at night, according to Peter Braster, director of special projects for the city of Plano.
The largest mixed-use site in Plano is the $3 billion Legacy West development that opened in 2017. It combines luxury residential with commercial buildings in a high-density area on the northwest side of the city. Hoping to find similar success, developers began looking toward declining shopping malls and what is left of the city’s undeveloped land to repurpose into new mixed-use sites, Braster stated.
While many residents see mixed-use areas as a new-age development trend, Braster said he sees them more as a throwback to the way communities used to be constructed.
“Before World War II, people lived in places that were walkable. Maybe you needed a car, maybe you didn’t; some shop owners lived above the store, all that kind of stuff,” he said. “When everyone came back from the war, we needed all this extra housing. Suburbs started getting built, and cars became more affordable.”
But Braster said in the last few decades the marketplace started changing as people began looking for more community-based places to live.
“Developers started working to build these mixed-use communities ... where people can reconnect,” he said. “The town square has become important again.”
Braster said mixed-use sites are also attractive because they can maintain high property values for the city.
“The chances that [mixed-use developments] will continue to be really vital spaces over time is a lot greater than, say, a [shopping mall],” he said.
The first new mixed-use project to open in Plano will be Assembly Park, in place of the former Plano Market Square Mall site just east of US 75 at the corner of K Avenue and Spring Creek Parkway. Development company Triten Real Estate Partners is constructing the project that will feature 180,000 square feet of office space; 305 apartments and townhome units; and 16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. Office space is slated to be completed by the end of the year, with the remainder of the project expected to be finished by the end of 2023.
Assembly Park will also offer a connection to nature with a large outdoor space and plans for dog parks, an event stage and a children’s play structure, Triten partner and DFW lead John Hardaway said.
“Assembly Park will offer residents, employers and the community an offering unlike anything in [Dallas-Fort Worth], with a truly walkable, pedestrian- and family-friendly environment to gather, dine, collaborate and live with a focus on nature,” Hardaway said in a statement.
Another project just off US 75 is the $1 billion mixed-use development, titled Collin Creek, that is transforming the former Collin Creek Mall and the surrounding area. It will include 400,000 square feet of retail space, 500 single-family homes, 2,300 multifamily apartment units, 1.3 million square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel.
Braster said work is focused on installing sewer and water lines for the single-family neighborhood, which is located off Alma Drive, and finishing the underground parking garage.
“Unfortunately, most of the progress is underground and barely visible,” Braster said. “Obviously everybody wants it done faster, but with all that’s going on in our economy, they are doing great.”
Another mixed-use development coming to Plano is the Haggard Farms project that City Council approved in December.
The project will be built on one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Plano and the last large piece of unused land owned by the Haggard family, according to city reports. The family has owned land in Collin County since the mid-1800s.
The more than 2 million-square-foot development would have a rustic farm theme and feature a restaurant called The Almanac that serves locally-sourced food, according to Stillwater Capital officials, who are developing the project. It would also include multiple outdoor event spaces, a park, offices, high-end apartments, a boutique hotel, space for various retail businesses, townhomes, parking garages and a large pond.
The developers stated it will be built around outdoor spaces with trails, trees and artificial streams. Construction will likely begin by the end of the year.
Mayor John Muns said the quality of Stillwater Capital’s other projects, respect for the Haggard family and the changing demands for commercial real estate have him excited about the project.
“We are not talking about a Legacy West with that high density,” he said. “I think this is really well positioned to be a good development. They had time to pivot and react to market changes that were happening because of the pandemic. That is a big advantage.”
The Shops at Willow Bend
It was announced May 4 that the last open indoor shopping mall in Plano, The Shops at Willow Bend, had been acquired by national real estate firm Centennial. The company unveiled plans to reimagine it into a mixed-use development as part of the announcement of its acquisition of the mall. The company stated it had acquired the mall in partnership with Cawley Partners and Waterfall Asset Management.
An exact timeline and plans for the mall’s redevelopment have not yet been released.
“We believe the best real estate is where suburban malls, like The Shops at Willow Bend, sit today,” Centennial CEO Steven Levin said in a statement. “[We] have a proven playbook for how to transform these complicated assets into tomorrow’s most relevant and dominant mixed-use destinations.”
Braster said the development team is not yet ready to share specifics on the project. But he said residents are going to be “excited” by it.
“They are creating a place for people to gather,” he said. “[The redevelopment] is not just about shopping, it’s about everything else.”