Richardson officials are looking to redevelop 14 acres of land around Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Arapaho Center Station as revitalization efforts unfold in The Innovation Quarter.

Richardson City Council and the DART board of directors each authorized an agreement in June that allows the city to begin the master plan process for the area.

“Working in conjunction with DART, the city will really take the lead on ... selecting the master developer [for the area],” Deputy City Manager Don Magner said.

This is the latest step in Richardson’s efforts to transform the 1,200-acre industrial area east of Central Expressway into the “premier tech hub in Texas,” as it was described in a 2018 vision statement.

Earlier this year, council added The IQ to an existing tax increment reinvestment zone. That will allow property tax revenue generated in the area to fund improvements within The IQ.

The IQ’s central location as well as access to talent and transit assets have made it a popular location for leasing activity. The IQ accounted for more than 50% of the businesses in Richardson and 20% of the city’s jobs before the pandemic.

Entrepreneur experience

The area now known as The IQ formerly served as the supply chain to the city’s Telecom Corridor. These days, the city is using the land to boost entrepreneurship while also supporting existing companies.

Backyard Workroom founder and CEO Eric Benavides called The IQ a “fantastic” location for his business, which opened three years ago.

In April, Magner announced Richardson and The University of Texas at Dallas would share space in the city-owned building at 1302 E. Collins Blvd.

Joseph Pancrazio, UT Dallas vice president for research, said the university’s partnership with the city will help cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs.

UT Dallas plans to house five new research centers at the facility as well as an extension of its Venture Development Center.

“What we’re doing is planting a seed, and I think the mighty oak that grows from this is going to be amazing,” Pancrazio said.

Infrastructure plans

To help facilitate the area’s growth, Richardson has several infrastructure projects planned. Funding would come from the upcoming city bond election as well as various grants.

Among the mobility projects slated for inclusion in the bond proposal are plans that would connect The IQ with the west side of the city as well as make travel easier for those on foot, on bike or for automated robots.

“The Arapaho Road and US 75 project would essentially create a pedestrian crossing under US 75 that would tie our municipal campus [and] the library to the Arapaho Station,” Magner said.

Another potential project would be the construction of a bridge at Collins Boulevard to help connect UT Dallas to The IQ, he said.

The third potential bond project Magner highlighted is a complete reconstruction of Glenville Drive between Arapaho and Campbell roads.

“It likely will be the prototypical cross section that we would use to reconstruct other streets in the future,” Magner said.

He said those three projects are likely to cost around $29 million if the bond proposal is approved.

“That kind of public investment will lead private investment,” said Bill Sproull, president and CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.

The grants the city plans to use on the projects require Richardson to match the funds. If the bond election does not pass, Magner said the city would have to pivot to using something like year-end budget savings.

What the future holds

Sproull said the chamber is continuing to see an uptick in interest from companies wanting to be in The IQ.

To continue engaging with the public, Sproull said the chamber and the city co-produce The IQ Brew, a biweekly networking and educational series that features presentations from local entrepreneurs.

While Richardson has plans to house only two staff members in the building at 1302 Collins Blvd., Magner said there is a possibility more public buildings could be added.

“The most likely location for that would be as part of the redevelopment of the 14 acres [at the Arapaho Center Station],” Magner said.

During a June 22 meeting, DART board member Gary Slagel said he believed the deal with the city would be good for both entities.

Magner said construction on the Collins Boulevard building is scheduled to be completed by February.

“What that represents to The IQ is going to be pretty important as the city and UT Dallas plant a flag there,” he said. “And hopefully [that will] be the catalyst for others to do the same.”