The City of Richardson held its annual State of the City Address January 29, 2020, featuring many significant accomplishments of 2019, as well as the future vision and priorities for moving the community forward in 2020. Mayor Paul Voelker and members of the Richardson City Council delivered the report as part of a free, open-to-the-public event at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts and Corporate Presentations.
The event focused on the City’s tremendous, collaborative recovery efforts from the October 2019 tornado that crossed the community’s southeast corridor, as well as the City’s compelling value proposition and service commitment that continues to position Richardson as a premier destination for residents, businesses and community organizations.
The City’s most significant 2019 achievements included:
- investing in neighborhoods,
- maintaining a productive business atmosphere,
- supporting community partnerships and philanthropic efforts,
- and sustaining institutional partnerships with local educational and health care organizations.
Primary focus areas and specific highlights from each area were as follows:
- Investments in Neighborhoods and Community Services
- Highly Productive Business Atmosphere
- Strong Community and Institutional Partnerships, Coupled with Philanthropic Efforts
- Cleaning up and recovering from the tornado that struck Richardson the evening of Oct. 20, creating a more than four-mile-long path of damage, destroying 12 properties, severely damaging another 60 and leaving 250 residences uninhabitable. The debris clean up effort was the largest in the City’s history – surpassing the record set only months earlier, when a June downburst also caused significant damage in the community.
- Continuing to implement projects from the $115 million 2015 Bond Program that have brought the community new recreation centers, parks and trails, and new fire stations as well as a new, $80 million Public Safety Campus, which encompasses the new Fire Station 1 as well as new headquarters for the Police and Fire departments.
- Also from the 2015 Bond Program, commencing work to replace Fire Station 3 in Canyon Creek, with renovations beginning soon for the Richardson Senior Citizen Center.
- Ultimately, the 2015 Bond Program will have improved 1.7 miles of local streets, reconstructed 3.8 miles of alleys and built more than 10 miles of new sidewalks – in addition to the new facilities completed as part of the program.
- Maintaining the Insurance Service Office’s certification as an ISO-1 rated community; fewer than 1% of cities nationally earn this top rating for fire suppression.
- Opening a new perimeter trail and entry portals at the 100-acre Spring Creek Nature Area.
- As part of fulfilling the City’s public art master plan, installing the new Insignia Lattice at Fire Station 1, and working on plans for the installation later this year of two additional art pieces near the new Public Safety Campus.
- The Richardson Fire Department’s receiving the American Heart Association’s Lifeline Emergency Medical Service Gold Award for the third consecutive year, recognizing its performance-focused improvements to get heart attack victims to critical life-saving services.
- The Richardson Police Department’s earning a perfect score for a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Academy Audit, and launching a new Dog Walker Community Watch program to help police proactively spot issues in local neighborhoods.
- Beginning construction on a new, 1 million-gallon elevated water storage tank adjacent to Point North Park in Northwest Richardson, to add capacity and redundancy to Richardson’s drinking water supply.
- Completing reconstruction of West Spring Valley Road between US 75 and Coit Road.
- Drawing on a $100,000 “Made to Move” grant from Degree deodorant and Blue Zones, plus a $15,000 AARP grant, to install bike lanes and a new pedestrian crossing on Greenville Avenue, in order to facilitate better DART station access and enhance mobility.
- Launching a new RichardsonToday.com website to further enhance the City’s delivery of information to stakeholders and support the City’s Convergence Media Initiative, with added video reporting to reach a diverse array of audiences more effectively.
- Homeowners’ completion of 141 Home Improvement Incentive Program projects, adding more than $19 million in neighborhood reinvestment.
- The City Council’s approval of a Form-Based Code zoning approach for the newly rebranded Richardson Innovation Quarter, a 1,200-acre innovation district adjoining DART’s Arapaho Center Station in the heart of the historic Telecom Corridor® area, which is envisioned to become an innovation-oriented, urban, mixed-use environment through transit-oriented development and redevelopment efforts over the coming years.
- Texas Instruments’ announcement of plans to develop a new, more-than-$3 billion semiconductor fabrication plant, further expanding on the company’s large Richardson presence. This was the largest economic development deal announced in Texas last year, and the second-largest in the history of the Texas Enterprise Fund.
- Celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Richardson Economic Development Partnership, the joint, strategic economic development program of the City of Richardson and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.
- Boasting the presence of more foreign-owned companies per square mile than any other city in the Metroplex.
- Maintaining the community’s status as the official International Business Capital of North Texas, as designated by the Texas Legislature.
- Hosting 45 international delegations from 15 countries as part of the ongoing work by the Mayor’s Office of International Business Development to attract more direct foreign investment by global businesses.
- Approving developer plans to revamp a portion of the former Richardson Square Mall site to replace the former Sears building with new retail stores plus four new buildings for restaurants and other retail development.
- Maintaining a AAA bond rating – the highest level available – simultaneously from both major ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, for 10 consecutive years.
- Business growth in Richardson generating an environment where approximately 60 percent of the City’s property tax base comes from the business community.
- Earning local and national recognitions as a great place to live and work, including ChamberofCommerce.org’s report ranking Richardson the third-best to live in statewide, Livability.com’s ranking of Richardson as the best place to live in Texas and 34th best in the U.S. and Livability.com’s ranking of Richardson as the ninth-best in the nation for STEM-focused jobs, with the highest concentration of technology workers in North Texas.
- Partnering with numerous community groups for tornado recovery assistance, most notably Network of Community Ministries’ work collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in community donations for storm victims and the group’s coordination of volunteer efforts to distribute food, clothing and other donated items.
- Celebrating the April 2019 opening of the Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground. The Richardson East Rotary Club raised over $500,000 for inclusive playground amenities and a large part of the goal was reached thanks to a donation from Chuck and Ann Eisemann. Part of the City’s 2015 Bond Program, the project will now serve people of all ages and abilities.
- Raising nearly $300,000 through the annual Corporate Challenge, the Olympic-style competition involving scores of North Texas businesses, to benefit Special Olympics Texas.
- Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Library and 50th anniversary of the Cottonwood Art Festival.
- Methodist Richardson Medical Center opened its $85 million expansion, adding two new patient floors and a new parking garage, as well as a new surgical operating room and a new heart surgery lab. The hospital also became the nation’s first to receive the prestigious Gold Seal of Approval for pancreatic, liver and bile duct cancer care from The Joint Commission.
- The Richardson ISD launched its Collegiate Academies program, which operates as “schools within a school” at select campuses, giving students an opportunity to earn college credit, an associate degree and an industry certification upon high school graduation. RISD also opened three new multipurpose activity centers at Berkner, Richardson and J.J. Pearce high schools, offering more practice space for athletics and fine arts.
- Plano ISD is working to open a new Fine Arts Center this fall, designed to host an array of events including University Interscholastic League competitions. This fall, PISD will also launch a workforce dual credit program with Collin College, focused on high-demand fields for industry across the region.
- Richland College launched a newly accredited ophthalmology assistant program to meet the needs of the growing eye care industry, and offered tuition-free continuing education classes last fall to help homeowners dealing with tornado recovery challenges such as home repairs and navigating insurance claims.
- UT Dallas is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and last fall set a new enrollment record with 29,000 students. UT Dallas also ranked as the second fastest growing public doctoral university in the nation and was named a “Best Value in Higher Education” university by the Princeton Review, while also earning Forbes’ recognition as the number one “Best Value” university in Texas.
- Texas Instruments announced a $5 million gift to UT Dallas to attract and retain early-career faculty members focused on emerging research fields within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Other Major Community Updates
- Celebrating the start of construction on DART’s Silver Line commuter rail line, a $1.1 billion project that is expected to be up and running in late 2022, connecting CityLine and UT Dallas to DFW International Airport, downtown Fort Worth and other cities and points of interest along the former Cotton Belt rail corridor.
The address was available for live online viewing on the City website. Archived video of the remarks will be available soon on the site.