Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere has big plans for downtown Plano.
“In the next 10-20 years, I would like to see downtown Plano become a bustling downtown area like you would go to in any major city,” says Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. And he’s not talking about a downtown that’s cute and quaint like Fredericksburg or downtown Mckinney. Mayor LaRosiliere is thinking big, like big D, “like the new Harwood District in Uptown Dallas,” he says.
I first heard of Mayor Harry LaRosiliere’s ambitious plans for downtown Plano in a session of Leadership Plano, a scheme ran by the Plano Chamber of Commerce, and intrigued, we got together so he could tell me more.
An expanded downtown Plano
“I’ve always envisioned that our downtown area should have its boundaries expanded,” Mayor Harry LaRosiliere says. Right now, the area is relatively small: “15th Street from Haggard Park to K Avenue. And down to 14th Street, there’s a little activity there.”
“The boundaries of downtown should really start at Collin Creek Mall, extend east to K Avenue, south down to 12th Street and north up to 18th Street,” Mayor Harry LaRosiliere explains.
The vision for downtown plano
“I’ve identified downtown as being fairly dense, vertical. A lot of businesses, a true business district. Imagine what we have in the Legacy area, but it wouldn’t be sprawling campuses it would be more individual buildings, not skyscrapers, but anywhere from four to eight story high office buildings with a diversity of residential sprinkled in. There’ll be multi-family, some of the homes we have on 18th, condos, and nestled in the middle of that will be the historic district to give it a sense of charm and character,” he says.
“I don’t know how many jobs we have there now but anywhere 15,000 to 20,000 could be within the downtown district. And you’d still have Plano City Hall as an anchor there, that’s a major job source.
“There’ll be businesses that make sense for the fact you’re going to have foot traffic. But, I think it’ll be eclectic, a lot of different uses, based on the demand. The main goal will be to get more people there so it’s viable for restaurants to have a real lunch hour and for businesses to have enough people in close proximity that they can come to work and not have to drive.
“Of course, you’re not going to get major corporate relocation in downtown Plano, but what you’re going to have is more small to mid-size businesses or maybe satellite offices of bigger businesses.”
Catalysts for a bigger, better downtown Plano
According to Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, two catalysts—both already in motion—are what will help make his vision for a bigger, better downtown Plano a reality.
Catalyst 1: 12th Street Station
12th Street Station will be a stop of DART’s new Cotton Belt Line (approved in October 2016). The Cotton Belt Line is a 26-mile transit route which will extend from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Shiloh Road in Plano. According to DART.org, the alignment will traverse seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano and is set to become a reality in 2022.
“12th Street Station will be a catalyst because you’ll be able to take the DART train all the way to DFW,” Mayor Harry LaRosiliere explains. “If you think about what’s happening on 15th Street and the revitalization around that station, I envision the same happening around the new 12th Street Station. So, then you’ll start filling in between 12th and 15th and that’s how some of that segment of downtown Plano gets built out.
“My hope is that businesses will start filling in that area [between 12th and 15th] in anticipation of it. There’s a lot of interest in Plano in general and this corridor is going to be where most of the action is going forward,” he says.
Catalyst 2: Collin Creek Mall
“The repurposing of Collin Creek Mall will be the catalyst of that western edge of downtown Plano. The 12th Street Station is the southern edge and Collin Creek Mall will be that western edge,” Mayor LaRosiliere explains.
Dreien Opportunity Partners, led by CEO Sam Ware, recently acquired about half of the 100 acres that makes up the Collin Creek Mall area. According to Mayor Harry LaRosiliere this deal is set to be finalized by the end of 2017.
The proposed future of Collin Creek Mall is as a mixed-use development, incorporating over one million square feet of office space, as well as retail and residential. We’ve even heard rumors of “Plano’s river walk”.
“Envisioned plans open up that creek [currently running underneath Collin Creek Mall] so there’ll be a water feature that adds character to the project,” Mayor LaRosiliere says.
Mayor LaRosiliere also hints at the potential for a major corporate relocation, “There’s opportunity for a major user at Collin Creek Mall,” he says.
When I suggest Amazon, his response is, “We’ll take them if they want to come. Right now our number one goal is for them to say it’s the DFW area and if it is then we’re in the running … we’ll see!”
Whether Amazon is in future for Plano, we don’t know, but either way a new future is coming for Collin Creek Mall and Mayor Harry LaRosiliere predicts it’ll be fully redeveloped within the next 10 to 12 years—and part of a new busy, bustling downtown Plano.
“You just wait and see what downtown Plano looks like in the next decade. It’ll be something you’re very proud of, it’ll be magic,” Mayor Harry LaRosiliere says with a smile.