Richardson Ups its Urban Vibe With Historic Downtown and City Gateway Projects
Richardson is no stranger to reinventing itself. Beginning as a farming community in the mid-20th century, the city transitioned into one of the region’s hottest residential areas during the post-war building boom, and now, it’s the nation’s second-largest concentration of high-tech companies in the Telecom Corridor heyday, preceded only by Silicon Valley.
Besides housing a wealth of global telecom and networking giants—like AT&T, Samsung, Fujitsu, Verizon, MetroPCS, and Texas Instruments—Richardson has added another layer to its economy by attracting major players in the insurance sector. In addition to the headquarters for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has been based in the 28-square-mile city for decades, major hubs for State Farm Insurance, GEICO, and United Healthcare collectively comprise Richardson’s largest employment base.
Since the city is tightly bordered by Dallas, Plano, Garland, Sachse, and Murphy, it’s landlocked with no available acreage to annex. Though economic development competitors have been waiting for Richardson to peak for at least 20 years, they’ll need to keep waiting.
The city’s ticket to continued growth has been a series of mixed-use developments built in conjunction with DART Rail Stations. Between Block 24, Spring Valley Station District, Brick Row, Eastside, The Shire, and CityLine (Richardson’s premier live, work, play, and stay community), the city is growing vertically while becoming one of the most walkable suburbs in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Town Central in Richardson’s Historic Downtown District
Town Central, a planned mixed-use development at the entrance of Downtown Richardson, may be more than just part of the district’s revitalization efforts. Its new urban village appeal could set the tone.
"The intention is this [is] a major part of the entire downtown redevelopment," Paris Rutherford, principal of Catalyst Urban Development, told the Richardson Planning and Zoning Commission according to the Dallas Morning News. "This will be [the] equivalent of kind of a Bishop Arts District feel."
Since the 1980s, the 14.5-acre tract between Chase Bank and the DART Rail Station has been vacant. While several developers were quick to offer good ideas, none of them materialized.
Aside from a parking garage and open space, the bulk of the project will include a 302,672-square-foot building with ground-level retail and apartments on the top five stories. A townhome neighborhood is slated for the north side of the development along with a planned retail and restaurant building.
"The goal is to have this be and appear to be a collection of buildings," Rutherford added. "It's urban, a blend of uses, active on the streetscape, and has interesting architecture."
Rutherford said his company will likewise work with City and DART officials to provide compliant park space across from the rail station and underneath the elevated commuter line.
New South Gateway to Richardson
Property owner Serene Global also received unanimous Planning and Zoning approval on a mixed-use project near Comerica Bank on the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and Spring Valley Road, which will ultimately provide a new southern gateway to Richardson.
In addition to giving a makeover to its existing six-story, 76,000-square-foot office building, the company plans to develop three new buildings on the site. Phase one of the project includes constructing a two-story and a three-story building. Both will contain nearly 20,000-square-feet of office and retail space as well as rooftop decks.
The final developmental phase will center on building a 14-story tower with 160 residences, about 15,000-square-feet of retail space, a parking garage to accommodate 509 vehicles, and a rooftop amenity deck for residents. And the facade of the new buildings will be a blend of glass, stucco, masonry, and steel.
"We tried to keep the materials very simple but bold," Jack A. Romigh with Serene Global told Richardson Planning and Zoning Commissioners, according to the Dallas Morning News. "There will be views of all of Richardson, Dallas, and probably Plano from the higher levels of this building."
In planning and zoning filings, Romigh noted that the developer is of "strong belief that the project will enhance the corner property and this gateway entry into the city of Richardson."