Did you attend the Open House on Wednesday, May 23?  Are you asking yourself, “Huh?  What Open House?  Did you know the City of Richardson is studying “Transit-Oriented Development and Innovation” in the Collins/Arapaho area?  There is a citizen survey available on-line that is currently still accepting input. It can be found here or at:  https://www.cor.net/departments/development-services/comprehensive-planning/enhancement-redevelopment/collins-arapaho-transit-oriented-development-and-innovation-district .

If you do not recall this having been previously discussed, let me refresh your memory.  The Collins Arapaho area is one of six areas targeted for enhancement and redevelopment by the city and outlined in the Comprehensive Plan in 2009.  Some of the other areas targeted for “Enhancement/Redevelopment” at that time include U.S. 75, aka Central.  And today along this route – specifically in the area between Belt Line/Main and Spring Valley we have an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the new and interesting restaurant row, and other new developments.  In two of the six areas – Central and West Spring Valley – the studies have been completed.  There is still much work to be done in recreating and updating these areas but the foundations have been laid and the City Ordinances creating the framework for development are in place.

Now underway is the study on the Collins Arapaho area.  This is approximately 1,200 acres that generally surround and are near the Arapaho Transit Center or the Arapaho station.  At one time – prior to the death throes of MCI (see Bernie Ebbers) and its collateral damage on Nortel – this area was the heartbeat of the “Telecom Corridor”.  But regardless of what came before, this area is ripe for redevelopment and enhancement.  Numerous multi-family dwellings (aka apartments) have been erected near the transit center and of course, there have been other changes – both residential and commercial.

Essentially, the goal of the study is to identify and create a framework to encourage this area being a sustainable “innovation district”.  An innovation district is defined by the Brookings Institute  as a geographic area where “leading -edge anchor institutions and companies cluster with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators” in areas that are compact, connected and accessible.  Rather than the traditional “commute alone by auto” model, this model is more focused on what can be accomplished within a 5 – 10 minute walk from a transit point or a 5 – 10 minute bike ride from a transit point.  (Access the link on the Brookings Institute above, it is a fascinating read on the “Rise of the Innovation Districts”.)

There have been several studies done on this area since 2000 including the UIL Panel Study in 2000, the “Arapaho Center Station Plan” in 2002, the “Richardson DART Station Area Market Analysis”  in 2003, the previously mentioned “Richardson Comprehensive Plan” of 2009, the “East Arapaho/Collins Enhancement/Redevelopment Study: Baseline Market Analysis” completed in 2013, and the “Chamber of Commerce East Arapaho/Collins Task Force”, performed in 2017.  The City wants to get it right and they want your input.  If you live in or near any of these redevelopment areas the impact may be direct so your voice needs to be heard.  Regardless of where you live, if you own property in Richardson or are considering moving to Richardson, you need to communicate your perspective as redevelopment efforts are, essentially, your tax dollars at work today and will impact your taxes in the future.

Cities are for all intents and purposes, living organisms.  With care and nurture, they can – like my grandmother’s Christmas cactus – live many years, decades, or centuries.  Fortunately, Richardson has been and remains a well-run City, focused on nurturing the citizens and the community, adding entertaining venues and events and nurturing the commercial activities in the City to ensure quality career opportunities. (I’ll blog soon on how Richardson’s Chamber of Commerce and Richardson’s Economic Development Partnership has helped our City, but that is a blog for another day.)  Likewise, Richardson Independent School District has maintained a high quality educational environment and school system – and all of it, dear citizens of Richardson, ultimately is due to you!  Without electing competent, courageous leaders with the vision to look years ahead, Richardson would be a much less livable, enjoyable, vibrant city and collection of communities.

Until next time . . .