Feature Illustration (above): A Hall Group concept of a reimagined Hall Park as it would appear with a large park, a performing arts center (the gold structure in the park) and luxury residential. Courtesy: Hall Group.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Frisco (Collin County) — Hall Group managed to persuade City Council this week of the need to amend the Hall Park land use plan to allow residential, despite strong opposition from the adjacent neighborhood associations.
Craig Hall, founder of Hall Group, addresses Frisco City Council. Courtesy: Frisco video archives.
The City of Frisco has gone through a very contentious few weeks over this issue, but as Craig Hall, chairman/founder of the office park, made clear, he had no choice but to reinvent one of the city’s earliest major commercial developments.
Hall bought the property 30 years ago and started constructing office buildings in 1997 on the 162-acre site. Today, there are 20 buildings–17 being office towers, two retail strip centers and a daycare. Hall’s concept for the office park worked well until demographics and the lifestyle preferences of a new generation upset his concept of a master planned business park.
Somewhere along the way, Millennials started calling the shots. They hate driving and prefer to live and play near their jobs. That means getting around on foot, bicycle, scooter or an efficient public transit system.
“We tried to get Boeing, and they told me specifically they went to (Plano’s) Legacy because we didn’t have the live/work/play being talked about,” Hall told council members prior to the Tuesday session vote.
The week prior, he told the Planning & Zoning Commission, “Our sole reason for wanting to update is we believe if we don’t add a mixed-use, we’re going to be a declining asset.”
Hall Group’s intentions for Hall Park is that office space will continue to be its predominant characteristic. But in order to remain competitively relevant, Hall plans to reshuffled the mix so that 20 to 25 percent of commercial development becomes residential. This will include a combination of luxury apartments, for-sale condo units and a hotel or two.
There are no intentions, however, of adding density. This means a few office buildings will eventually be demolished or converted. Hall has offered to limit density to 9.5 million square feet, not including garage space.
The master plan map (north points right) as presented to SLAN was not part of the official application package. Courtesy: City of Frisco.
According to the Development Services staff report, the amendment could allow up to 2,021 residential units in the form of urban living, mid-rise, high-rise and retirement housing.
In terms of phasing, Hall Group would be required to maintain 2,234,000 square feet of office space before the issuance of permits for any structure with a residential component. The phasing threshold, however, is no impediment to a quick start since Hall Park already has more than 2.6 million square feet of office space.
The maintenance requirement on the amount of office inventory was inserted to ensure Hall Group will not over-cannibalize the office component.
The members of SLAN (Stonebriar Legacy Association of Neighborhoods) met with Hall’s team several times over 2018, but generally remained opposed over concerns with traffic, lighting, building heights and noise.
Charles Bundren, a prominent attorney and president of SLAN and the Stonebriar Creek Estates neighborhood association, was especially alarmed over the lack of a master plan. Although Hall showed a master plan to SLAN members during an October town hall, Bundren had a fit when he realized it was never submitted as an exhibit to the official amendment application.
In addition to stipulations about reducing heights next to single family residences, while increasing heights next to the tollway, the master plan memorialized verbal assurances that Hall would set aside land for a performing arts center and open spaces.
“There is no zoning exhibit, nothing that is going to tie down this applicant to what you saw,” Bundren said. “If you pass this today, … (Hall) will not be held to anything.”
Staff expressed no worries over the lack of a master plan, and as did the planning commissioners before them City Council relied heavily on Craig Hall’s good reputation and verbal assurances. The land use requirement on open space for instance is a minimum of 10 percent. It should be noted that Hall is a well known patron of the arts in Dallas, and Hall Park is already endowed with thoughtfully planned landscaping that includes many public art sculptures.
Public art sculptures are placed on green spaces all around Hall Park. Images: Google Streets.
“We intend to exceed the 13.5 percent (of open space) that we’re at now,” Hall told the council. “We intend to have a really large park similar to Klyde Warren. We’ve hired the same people that did Klyde Warren Park. We’ve spent over $1 million in planning on it, so this isn’t a pipe dream.”
Hall Park Revised
Height limits for buildings along the Dallas Parkway (east side) and Gaylord Parkway will go from 240-300 feet to 350-400 feet.
Height limits in the northeast corner will drop from 240 to 120 feet.
Height limits in the southwest corner will drop from 240 to 210 feet.
Height limits along Internet Boulevard in the green strip will be capped at 72 feet.
The dark blue and red zones within the office park are designated buffer zones (no new towers will be built).
In the east sector, near the Dallas Parkway, residential is allowed only above the 15th floor in a mixed-use building, and said structures must be a minimum of 25 stories.
Hall Group proposes a max height of 72 feet for residential-retail mixed buildings along Internet Boulevard. Courtesy: Hall Group.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.