Renewal and Growth Reflected in Thriving Downtown Posted: May 10, 2007

Clouds of dust would swirl from the dirt streets of Plano's 1890's business district as farmers drove their mule teams into town to sell their goods in the hustle and bustle of Trade Days. Wooden sidewalks reverberated with the solid echo of boots and high top shoes as families from local Blackland Prairie farms would head for the heart of Plano to shop, attend church, tend to business and spend the day with their “city” friends. By January 1912 the Dallas Daily Times Herald reported “the honk of the automobile in Collin County is as common as the bray of the mule.” Over the years dirt roadways and wooden sidewalks were replaced with concrete walks, asphalt roads and the beautiful brick pavers that still grace the heart of Plano today. Both commerce and travelers were knocking on the door of “Downtown Plano” thanks to the expansion of the Dallas-Sherman electric railway and various freight rail lines. Haggard Park became a favored gathering spot for community events and a respite for visitors and shoppers. By 1933 Plano City Fathers had managed to convince the State to widen State Highway 6, ultimately changing its name to State Highway 75. That road today is K Avenue (State Highway 5) and still carries visitors into the heart of Plano's municipal government and business center. After the widening and relocation of Highway 75 (Central Expressway) to its current location out of the downtown district, Plano began its steady expansion westward, with downtown slowly losing its significance as the heart of the community. By the 1980's it had become a shell of its previous self. The area was home to many dilapidated buildings, absent building owners, and an overall economic decline, but beneath the shabby exterior a pulse still remained. In the early 1990's the City Council set the wheels into motion for a restoration of Downtown Plano including pledging to continue to anchor the City's municipal government in the Downtown area. In 2000 Amicus Partners infused the area with the first of two $16 million retail and residential developments, followed by the 2002 opening of DART light rail service with its Downtown Plano Station. The historic Douglass Community, adjacent Downtown, saw renewed residential rehabilitation and growth with the new Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church a towering landmark for the area. In late 2005 City Council created the Downtown Retail Task Force designed to examine ways to further revitalize the retail sector of the historic area. Facilitated through the City's Planning Department, task force recommendations ranged from increasing public and visitor awareness of downtown to conducting major community events in downtown to reinforce its role as the

historic heart of the City, as well as enhanced business recruitment and marketing initiatives. The City also hired a planner to work specifically on downtown issues and to assist merchants and property owners with marketing and advertising efforts. The Historic Downtown Plano Association (HDPA) was created to help oversee the interests and needs of the Downtown Plano district. Currently underway are:  The planning of new downtown events and enhancement of current events  Implementation of new membership guidelines with the goal to increase revenue for HDPA uses including creation of a Fundraising committee to develop and implement these guidelines  Increased event advertising and promotion  Creation of a new Downtown web site  Enhanced signage coupled with a wayfinding sign system that will direct visitors to and around Downtown Plano The Planning Department and the HDPA have partnered on the work program to create several marketing and communications projects. An update of the two downtown informational kiosks is now completed and online and the Downtown Plano logo will be incorporated into merchandising and publications. Soon to be unveiled is a new tourist brochure, Downtown web site, increased publications and advertising, and increased marketing with area media groups, DART and state agencies. Downtown Plano once again pulsates with activity as th the heart of the city with historic 15 Street now completely leased. Major changes are occurring at Eastside Village where commercial brokers have been hired by Pinnacle Realty, the management team, to recruit new businesses to their retail/residential properties. Down the road, the successful 15th Street Village is looking at a second phase of construction this summer with Lexington Luxury Townhomes to begin construction of their first phase with completion slated for October 2007. Community festivals, special merchant events, summer concerts and cultural venues have combined to make Haggard Park again snap, crackle and pop. 2007 promises to be an exciting year for Downtown as improvements and changes continue to take shape. For an in-depth look at the Downtown Plano Retail Action Plan, posted on the Planning Department web site, click here. Published in Cooperation with the City of Plano Planning Department

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