In January 2009, the City Council adopted a new Comprehensive Plan, which identified six “Enhancement/Redevelopment” zones, including East Arapaho/Collins. All of these Enhancement/Redevelopment zones are struggling with some of the challenges of maturing suburban cities, including:
- Aging development and infrastructure;
- Properties that are underperforming due to changes in market, technology, building format; and
- Evolving demographics.
In designating these as Enhancement/Redevelopment zones, the feeling of City officials was that the true potential of these areas could not be determined without specific, detailed study. In February of 2012, staff briefed the Council on a plan to combine the resources of the City, the Richardson Economic Development Partnership (REDP), area stakeholders and a team of consultants to create a strategy that addresses the specific conditions in the East Arapaho/Collins zone.
The study area is bounded very generally by Collins Boulevard on the north, Plano Road on the east and Apollo Road on the south. The western boundary is uneven and does not follow a particular roadway, but it extends no further west than Dorothy Drive south of Arapaho or Alma Road/the KCS Railroad north of Arapaho. The Council concurred with the recommendation of the study team to remove several tracts of land that were part of the original study area for various reasons. The revised study area is comprised of 167 parcels and 551 acres of land. (see map).
In excess of 99% of the land in the East Arapaho/Collins study area is zoned I-M(1) or I-FP(2) Industrial. There are two parcels with retail or residential zoning.
Existing development consists largely of industrial and office-tech space (55% and 25%, respectively). The next largest category is office at 10%. The remaining land is a combination of public uses, open space, and vacant properties.
The goal of this Enhancement/Redevelopment Study is to devise a plan that addresses the underperforming industrial space in the study area, particularly the large quantity of older flex space. Flex space is a type of commercial building that is flexible/versatile enough in its design to allow for a variety of office use, research and development, quasi-retail sales, industrial processing, high tech or combinations of these uses in a single structure.
Typical building characteristics for flex space include:
- One or two stories in height;
- Some percentage of space within the building (usually at least half) designed for office layout;
- Ceiling heights of up to 16 feet (to allow for the racking of inventory for manufacturing, processing or warehouse uses; ceilings can be dropped for office users); and
- Overhead door delivery options (grade level or dock high delivery doors conducive to warehouse, showroom or assembly activities).
Flex space offers tenants a number of advantages, including affordable lease rates and the flexibility to mix uses and consolidate operations at a single location. There are, however, several concerns with the inventory of space in Richardson, including:
- The amount of flex space currently available in Richardson and the rate of vacancy;
- The age of the buildings and their ability to meet the requirements of current tenants; and
- Whether the aesthetics of the area are likely to attract and retain desirable users.
At the same time, the area benefits from a number of assets, such as:
- A good fiber-optic infrastructure
- Access to a trained workforce as well as customers and suppliers
- Reasonably priced housing and employee-oriented services and conveniences nearby
- A variety of other characteristics that are important to both business owners and employees
In February of 2013, the study team presented the findings from the baseline market analysis and a general set of recommendations to the City Council. The next phase of the study, which is scheduled to be undertaken in the summer or fall of 2013, will include more detailed work on the recommendations and an implementation plan.