The goal of the Collins-Arapaho Innovation District—roughly contained by Campbell Road, Plano Road and Apollo Drive—is to become a premier tech hub in North Texas, where businesses across industries and in different parts of their growth process can thrive, according to Scott Page, principal at consulting firm Interface Studio.
The team began studying the area in March. During that time several presentations have been made to City Council, consultants have gathered feedback from stakeholders and members of the public through interviews and events, and online surveys have been distributed.
A greater range of amenities, more open space, better walkability and bikeability, and improved branding and visibility from US 75 were highly prioritized by existing business and property owners as well as everyday citizens, the consultants said.
Ten strategies were presented for council's consideration Dec. 3. No vote was held.
- Manage the experience and marketing through actions such as forming a volunteer business association; appointing an "innovation district manager" to market the district and act as a boots-on-the-ground coordinator; and create better branding and signage to define various subareas within the district.
- Support structural modernization by performing cosmetic upgrades to older building stock. The consultants recommended providing incentives, such as waiving permitting fees or excluding the value of improvements from future tax assessments, to encourage property owners to invest in their buildings.
- Allow zoning flexibility in industrial zones to maximize development potential. Adjusting building height limits and parking requirements would allow for a greater range of business types, the consultants said.
- Encourage vibrancy through placemaking activities by piloting pop-up uses such as food truck parks. The consultants suggested testing these activities in strategic areas with high volumes of daytime traffic.
- Improve district edges and gateways by enhancing the aesthetics of signage and infrastructure around the boundaries of the district.
- Redesign key streets for better mobility. Streets such as Greenville Avenue, Glenville Drive and Alma Road could be reconfigured to provide better frontage for new and existing businesses and create an ease of mobility for area users.
- Create a shared innovation space for new businesses. A public-private partnership was recommended by consultants as an avenue to create a physical space for biotech startups.
- Strengthen partnerships with universities and colleges, such as UT Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Richland College and UT Southwestern, to help to promote and market the district.
- Create more open space by improving areas, such as Duck Creek, that already possess the ability to become outdoor amenities.
- Redevelop key opportunity sites through rezoning. The consultants singled out the area surrounding Duck Creek as having potential for greater business uses as well as the area around Greenville Avenue for more residential development.
Going forward the team said they plan to continue to build awareness about the project as well as refine strategies and options for implementation. To learn more about plans for the innovation district visit www.cor.net/collinsarapaho.