By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
McKinney residents were given the opportunity to attend a final presentation on the proposed implementation of a new form-based zoning code for McKinney’s Town Center area on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at City Hall. Although some citizens voiced their questions and asked for clarification, overall, those who attended the meeting, were in agreement with the change. The new zoning code is a result of Phase 2 of the Town Center Study.
The Town Center Study is a plan to encourage revitalization and development in the older sections of McKinney, and generally includes the downtown area and areas between US Highway 75, US Highway 380, Eldorado Parkway and Airport Drive.
In Aug. of 2006 the city kicked off Phase 1 of the study to create a common vision around a plan for certain areas within the city, such as revitalizing downtown McKinney and the State Highway 5 corridor, and, the potential for transit-oriented development just east of S.H. 5. A series of meetings where the public could give input about what they wanted the Town Center to look like were held and Phase 1 plan culminated in March of 2008 with council approval.
Phase I Successes:
- Redesign of downtown square
- TXDot recognition of S.H. 5 as a viable and important destination as well as east – west connection
- Positioning for grants and catalyst projects
- Consensus on preferred redevelopment concepts (adopted master plan)
- Substantial response from the private sector
- Awards and recognition – The International Downtown Association (IDA) downtown achievement awards, Texas Society of architects, Money Magazine ranking (mentions historic downtown)
Citing examples such as the Boyd-Vigel Building and the building that houses One Lazy Lizard Lounge in downtown McKinney, Kevin Spath, Assistant Director of Planning for the City, said that there has been very positive feedback from the private sector following the implementation of Phase 1. Downtown property owners are improving their property, new restaurants and businesses are moving into downtown and construction of new townhomes and office spaces has begun.
Adopting the proposed zoning code falls under Phase 2 of the study, which is implementing the common vision.
City staff and a representative from the Gateway Consulting group presented a detailed outline of what the adoption of the proposed zoning code would mean for businesses and citiznes.
The propsed code would alter the zoning in the Town from a use based zoning code, which separates zoning areas according to use, to a form based zoning code, or putting the form of the building first, resulting in areas of mixed-use development. Form based zoning focuses on urban form and less on land use. According to the Form-Based Codes Institue (FBCI) form-based codes focus on the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks.
Key efforts the City has taken to mobilize Phase 2 of the Town Center Study have included:
- A market feasibility analysis which analyzed both pre- and post-rail scenarios in the Town Center and confirmed that the preferred concepts of the vision are realistic. The analysis concluded that, over the next 10 years, McKinney’s Town Center could reasonably expect to absorb approximately 1,200 residential units (urban single-family detached, single-family attached townhouses, condominiums, live-work units, and apartments over ground floor non-residential) and 400,000 square feet of non-residential.
- A comprehensive downtown parking analysis which evaluated existing and future supply/demand dynamics, site feasibility of a future public parking structure and options for a paid parking system in the downtown core.
- A public improvement district (PID) analysis, which evaluated the feasibility of establishing a PID in the downtown core.
- Implementation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ #1), which serves as a key fiscal tool to support and encourage sustained revitalization of the Town Center over the long-term. City Council formally created the Town Center Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone in late 2010.
- Voter approval of the City of McKinney 2010 bond package, including $3 million for parking improvements and $8 million for roadway/utility improvements within the Town Center.
- Award of almost $2 million in Sustainable Development grant funds from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to support infrastructure and planning projects within the Town Center.
- Award of $400,000 in Brownfields Assessment grant funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify and assess potential brownfield sites in order to facilitate property reuse within the Town Center. An analysis of the City’s land development regulations, which has led to the drafting of a proposed form-based zoning code specifically for the McKinney Town Center to proactively address unique redevelopment challenges and achieve the desired physical form and character of the adopted community vision. City Council adoption of the McKinney Town Center Form-Based Zoning Code is anticipated in early 2013.
With a growing trend toward urban living, City leaders and planners say that McKinney is poised to capitalize on the desire of residents who are looking for areas that provide a concentration of jobs, entertainment, shopping, commercial and residential choices and public spaces within walking distance.
One McKinney resident, who preferred not to be identified and who attended the meeting, said that she thinks the entire concept is “very cool”. “It will be really nice to live here and have so many things so accessible,” she said.
City staff said they hope to have the proposed change to the zoning code come before council sometime in Feburary.