Richardson: Town Central on Track to Break Ground Fall 2019
Feature Illustration: As viewed from the North Central Expressway, Catalyst Urban Development’s Town Central concept for Richardson.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Richardson (Dallas County) — The Richardson City Council approved an amendment to a Special Development Plan for the three-block Town Central, thus setting in motion the design phase for the downtown project.
Catalyst Urban Development obtained approval in early 2017 for a development plan, but as company principal Paris Rutherford explained to the Plan Commission in October, he wasn’t happy with the original concept. City Council accepted the Plan Commission’s recommendation at the Nov. 5 regular session.
Rutherford told the Plan Commission, “We didn’t feel comfortable going forward on the prior plan. We didn’t feel as comfortable with the details.”
The proposed Town Central development, also referred to as Richardson Gateway in Catalyst promotions, is located on about 14.5 acres that are adjacent to the east frontage road of North Central Expressway, between Belt Line Road/East Main Street to the south and Greer Street to the north. The west side is bounded by a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) corridor that the City of Richardson is planning to acquire; there is an agreement in principal to redevelop the DART property into a multi-purpose park. Catalyst would redevelop Interurban Street, the street between the future park and its project, with broader pedestrian walks and lush landscaping.
Town Central, looking north from above Belt Line Road/East Main Street. Courtesy: Catalyst Urban Development.
Two issues in particular forced the revision, Rutherford said, the length of the blocks–there were originally two instead of three–and the open space requirements. Rutherford sought reductions on the open space requirements as dictated by ordinance, and he reconfigured parking space.
A bird’s-eye view of the project site. Image: Google Earth.
Referring to the south end of the original master plan, Rutherford said, “We weren’t comfortable having a parking lot between the building and Belt Line. You already have a lot of that happening along (Hwy) 75. We wanted to bring the building right up to the street and have some parallel parking. Unfortunately, that created a block length that’s longer than you allow through the code.”
He referred to it as a “super block” that needed to be broken down to a more pedestrian scale. The southernmost building would be the most visible element as scene from Belt Line Road/E. Main Street, the main east-west arterial street. It is a multi-story, mixed-use building with retail and restaurants on the ground level and upscale apartment flats above.
“The hope is to go from a very animated commercial environment that you can see from the car. You exit and the further into the development you go, the more smaller scale and landscape-based it becomes,” he said of the overall plan. The north end of Town Central will be comprised of two- and three-story townhomes.
Catalyst is also collaborating with the city’s design team–which includes Kevin Sloan Studio–on the adjacent park concept, which presently is proposed to be divided into a splash park, dog park, community garden and fitness park, all connected by a winding trail.
Color-coded master plan. Yellow and yellow-orange structures are residential; pink are retail. Courtesy: Catalyst Urban Development.
Rutherford said the number of planned residential units will not support the number of planned retail/restaurant activity.
“The intention is that this is a major part of the larger downtown redevelopment that creates a hip and cool zone that the city comes to. It will be very different than what’s up at CityLine . This would be equivalent to kind of a Bishop Arts feel,” Rutherford said, referring to the eclectic Bishop Arts District in Dallas’ Oak Cliff, a haven for creative small business enterprises that revived a funky 1930s-1950s business district.
Referring to the project timeline, Rutherford said Catalyst would have broken ground much sooner, “had I not felt strongly that we needed to change the plan.”
The design period now underway will take about 10 months, and financing will also be lined up during this period. That will follow with a two-month final bid and pricing period.
“It’s about a year out (October 2019) from start of construction, and about a 24 to 26 month construction period, with the initial phase of building within the larger complex opening about 18 months into that process.”
He estimated Town Central would be complete in about three years. Construction will commence on the south end and go north in one continuous phase.
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.