Frisco EDC plans industrial park to build city's futureAs a machine is turned on to be tested, green lights flash, conveyor belts hum and electricity buzzes through the wires of the working instrument.

This high-tech machine was developed by Cornerstone Automation Systems, or CASI, a technology manufacturer near Eldorado Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway. No smoke stacks or burning fuels are seen from the company’s 186,000-square-foot warehouse, where automated systems are produced for companies across the globe.

A company like CASI is what Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said he envisions would move into Frisco Park 25, a planned 216-acre industrial and business park at the northern end of the city. Having an industrial park to attract companies like CASI would help fill a need in the city, he said.

“We have the $5 Billion Mile; that’s a lot of office, a lot of mixed-use residential,” Maso said. “You don’t really have the innovative, hands-on-type work in an office setting. [Frisco Park 25] fits that need, that market segment of having companies that may do some shipping, may do some light manufacturing. Those are the kinds of companies we want here. They create great jobs, and they’re the wave of the future.”

The Frisco Economic Development Corp., which owns the land for Frisco Park 25, announced the project this fall. The park is named for the FEDC’s 25th anniversary.

The hope for Frisco Park 25 is that it would draw larger corporations to the city, provide high-skilled jobs for Frisco’s highly educated workforce and increase the city’s tax base, FEDC President Jim Gandy said.

“Our job here at the Frisco EDC revolves around some primary goals of continuing to attract investment to expand the tax base of the city and to create and retain quality jobs in our city,” Gandy said. “We believe that developing this business park and bringing in maybe 15 or more new companies to Frisco or assisting existing companies to expand would generate the benefits of a greater tax base and the creation of new jobs in our city.”

Corporate attraction

Frisco City Council has identified landing a Fortune 100 company as a top priority for the city for several years now. Though Frisco Park 25 was not specifically designed to attract that company, it could help with a corporate relocation as well as attracting other small- to medium-size businesses, Maso said.

“It’s just one more tool,” he said. “The way we look at it is a tool chest full of different tools available to meet the needs of the companies that are creating jobs here.”

Frisco Park 25 is marketed toward regional and corporate headquarters as well as manufacturing and distribution space, opening up the opportunity to attract larger corporations to the city.

“We already have multiple inquiries from companies interested in purchasing a site to build a new facility for their company,” Gandy said. “We’re working currently on about four lots that are actively being pursued right now by four different companies.”

This business park could have a domino effect on company attraction, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President Tony Felker said.

“You’re going to have some companies and organizations coming into that park that will bring other valuable entities there,” he said. “There will be some synergies being created by the types of entities that will come into this development.”

Frisco EDC plans industrial park to build city's futureFrisco Park 25 plans

The Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission approved a preliminary site plan for the industrial park during its Oct. 25 meeting. Frisco City Council is expected to review plans for the park early next year.

The park is planned to have about 2.2 million square feet of space to be developed. The FEDC plans to sell lots to companies that will build their own space under the development standards set by the FEDC.

“All of the development standards within our proposed [covenants, conditions and restrictions] meet or
exceed the city requirements,” Gandy said.

Gandy described the park as a “first class, high-end business park,” with Class A office space and limited retail business along Preston Road. The property is bordered by Preston Road, which is zoned for commercial use along its corridor.

Each planned building on the development has a different size and acreage.

The first phase of the project includes building the roadways that run through the property. The preliminary plan includes four main roads, currently called Corporate Drive, Gateway Drive, Executive Drive and Global Drive.

One of the reasons the FEDC chose the northwest corner of Rockhill Parkway and Preston Road for an industrial park is because it is one of the few areas zoned for industrial use in the city, Gandy said.

Frisco EDC plans industrial park to build city's future“In the interest of capturing an opportunity where two of these tracts were among the largest remaining industrial zoned parcels in the city, we thought it would be a great opportunity for the EDC to purchase this property,” he said.

Maso said the city has not had a huge demand for industrial space in recent years, especially since manufacturers need large spaces for warehouses, and those projects are not economical because of Frisco’s high land prices. However, he said City Council would be open to adding more industrial zoning if the demand presented itself.

Felker said he would like to see more developments take advantage of the land zoned for industrial use in Frisco to diversify the business options in the city.

“A lot of people when they hear of this zoning they think of heavy industrial or manufacturing, ‘dirty smoke stacks,’” he said. “That is not going to be the case here. There is a need for clean manufacturing. There is a need for clean light industrial.”

The long road there

Maso said the plans for Frisco Park 25 display the patience and persistence of the city of Frisco and the FEDC.

“It wasn’t that we woke up one day and said, ‘We’re going to do a park right there,’” he said. “It was years of putting together the land pieces because we had the vision of this as a great location for an industrial-type and corporate-type park.”

The land where Frisco Park 25 is planned to go was once the sight of a Luminant power plant. The plant was demolished in 2011. Looking at the potential of the land where the plant was, Maso said the city worked with Luminant to buy the land.

Even before the land was purchased, the city had been working to put the proper infrastructure in place for development. This included obtaining needed right-of-way clearance, installing water and sewer lines and planning and building Rockhill Parkway.

Frisco EDC plans industrial park to build city's future“Somebody who may have been paying attention may have seen a road going to the middle of nowhere, because it was in the middle of nowhere,” Maso said. “… It’s kind of like the elbow grease; you’re sitting there and everybody’s working really hard, but nobody’s seeing it with that vision in mind.”

Maso said it is not normal for a city to put infrastructure in place before a development is planned, but the city knows it is necessary to plan 10 steps ahead to successfully implement a vision.

“You’re seeing the picture of what it means to be on the leading edge of economic development,” he said. “You’re seeing the picture of what it means to plan and design a city. You’re seeing the picture of what it takes to create jobs.”