This month marks not only the beginning of a new year but also a new decade. We talked to community leaders and professionals about how far we’ve come in the past decade and what Plano residents can expect going into the 2020s.
What changes will the new decade bring to Plano?
HL: In the ‘80s, we were a bedroom community. From the ‘90s to 2010, we were Dallas’ big suburb. 2010 to 2020 was the era of Plano 3.0 when we became our own city; we’re not anybody’s suburb. 2020 demarcates Plano 4.0: We’re the city of excellence and innovation. It’s not about only being excellent in our services, but it’s how we deliver using technology.
The developers at Collin Creek Mall are talking to Uber Elevate. Imagine in 2023 landing at DFW Airport and taking a drone to Collin Creek Mall in 15 minutes. That’s how it could affect transportation. Imagine sending a drone into a burning building, using heat sensors to see if people are in the building so our firefighters aren’t running in. Or smart technology for trash pickup. Instead of having our people go to every trash bin, there’d be a sensor telling you when it’s full.
The biggest change I see in Plano is the development of our downtown over the next decade. It’s our older part of town, but with us retrofitting infrastructure, that will probably become one of the most technologically advanced areas. All the new things we do, we’re going to do in a smarter, innovative way.
What do you think future technology will bring to North Texas?
SY: I believe the future is one of Augmented Intelligence, where humans and machines collaborate and work together for the greater good. Machines are great at tedious, time-consuming and procedural tasks. That frees up humans to do what we do best – innovation that involves creativity, heart, intuition, problem solving and understanding. I think it’s especially relevant to us in DFW to find more opportunities to combine the power of machines and humans. As we continue to grow, resources will become strained, and we’ll need every brain in the game, focusing on how we creatively solve these challenges so we ensure a vibrant future for North Texas.
What are some ways Capital One is keeping North Texans educated on tech of the future?
SY: There are many things we do within the community, but one I’ll highlight is a free program we launched this year called Basic TrAIning: Bot Camp. In partnership with educators, we co-created an interactive curriculum where students learn fundamental AI skills and build their own chat bot. Across the U.S. 50 million jobs have been created in AI, but there is a shortage of tech workers. We have a massive opportunity to address this right here in North Texas, where we have one of the largest professional workforces in the country and ample room for growth.
How do you think technology will affect North Texans’ daily lives in the next decade?
JP: Innovations in cybersecurity are going to be essential. More of our world and our livelihoods will be conveyed through computer and information systems. The ability to protect that information, whether it’s medical records or financial records, will be absolutely essential.
I think also the notion of how we travel is going to change. You’re seeing the emergence of electric vehicles and of ride sharing. I would not be surprised in the next 10 to 15 years if people will opt out of having cars, and they’ll essentially lease, borrow or share transportation resources. And one of the principal reasons people will do this, first of all it will be cheaper, but it will also allow them more time with the thing that we’ve developed our most intimate relationship: our phones. We’ve changed radically over the last 20 years in the interest and need to be connected. Anything that takes us away from our ability to be connected, we see as being somewhat of a loss of time and opportunity.
You’ve seen the emergence of Fitbits. People want more real-time understanding of their physiology and their health. I expect these wearable sensors will go beyond heart rate, respiration and measuring blood pressure. They’ll include other elements of physiologic status so we will have more information about ourselves.
Resources of smart homes will become more than just turning on and off lights or changing the thermostat. Those smart homes might inquire, “We’ve noticed that you haven’t been out of bed for the last two days. Do you need me to contact a primary care provider?” It will become is a home that is more aware of the traffic in it and how people are using it. I think what you’re going to see is the migration of smart homes not just to be an assistant, but to also having a healthy, happy and independent lifestyle.
How does The University of Texas at Dallas keep students on the forefront of innovation?
JP: The primary mission of a university is to educate the next generation. One of the principle reasons UT Dallas is involved in research is that it provides a terrific opportunity to educate students about jobs of the future. It’s knowing what the jobs of the future are and knowing what opportunities will be there.
What were some of the biggest changes in Plano ISD in the last 10 years?
SB: The Academy Visioning Committee was formed in 2010, and the Academy Programs of Plano opened in 2013 to include three high school academies. There are more than 500 students at the IB World School at Plano East in grades 9-12 taking advantage of the opportunity to earn an internationally renowned diploma. Our Health Sciences Academy (HSA) offers students the opportunity to earn certifications and dual credit through Collin College. The Academy High School offers students project-based learning that inspires creativity and emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) in an interdisciplinary curriculum model. In 2019 our first elementary choice school opened with the authorization of the IB World School at Huffman Elementary, where the entire student body is learning Mandarin Chinese.
Students now have the ability to study career pathways that lead to industry certifications while in high school through our Career and Technical Education curriculum. Plano ISD students earned 2,540 industry certifications and 1,491 precision exams in 2018-19.
Another change is the significance of securing our students at school. We have watched our campus spaces become models of best practices based on Department of Homeland Security research regarding hardening spaces, teaching students and staff about crisis response and investing in school resource officers at our campuses.
What changes can residents expect within Plano ISD in the new decade?
SB: One of our next steps is designing Plano ISD’s portrait of a graduate, a collective vision that articulates our community’s aspirations for all students. We have assembled a group of stakeholders to help develop this framework for Plano ISD’s life-ready graduate. As students prepare for careers that may not exist today, this group is deciding what global collaboration, problem-solving, creativity, digital ethics and communication skills will look like for the Plano ISD graduate.
We look forward to the culmination of several projects currently in the works, starting with the opening of the Plano ISD Fine Arts Center in winter 2020. Students will also benefit from the opening of the Collin Technical Campus in Allen in fall 2020. This program for 11th and 12th graders will feature dual credit courses based on workforce demands in the region.
How has Collin College changed in the past decade?
NM: In 2015-2016 we created a master strategic plan. One of those strategic plan initiatives was to ensure that 30 hours of credit were available to every high school. That’s fueled a tremendous increase in attendance. We understood that if 10 college classes were attained while students were still in high school, there’s an exponentially higher likelihood of completing a degree.
We added more programs in the last five years than we’d added in the previous 20 or 25 years. Now we’re building a $150 million technical campus to bring things like welding, HVAC, electrical, carpentry, automotive. Agricultural programs are going to be at our Wylie and Farmersville campuses.
We’ve been, in previous generations, focused predominantly on transfer to university. That’s still so incredibly important to us. But we also want to make sure that we’re not leaving anybody out. So we’ve taken some pretty extraordinary steps to make sure the programs we offer are relevant to what the county needs.
There is a lot of talk in the news about crushing student loan debt. How can Collin College help students in this regard?
NM: Collin College has the lowest tuition in the state, period. We’re very fortunate to be in a tax base that’s so robust to the degree that we can have the second lowest tax rate in the state, which is amazing out of 50 community colleges. The average loan debt for a baccalaureate student is $37,000. At Collin College, you’re looking at less than $5,000 for two years of college. We’re talking about pennies on the dollar compared to university prices. And we’re proud of the fact that it’s not just low priced, it’s high quality.
What does the next decade hold for Collin College?
NM: We’ve got two major new campuses coming on board in fall 2020. The technical campus in Allen is 340,000 square feet. It’ll serve 5,000-7,500 students. A brand new campus in Wylie [will serve 7,000 students] – that’s another 340,000 square feet. You’re going to see massive hiring of faculty and administrators to run those campuses.
The following year we get two smaller campuses that come along. One in Farmersville, it’s only 56,000 square feet, and it’ll serve about 1,200 students. And one in Celina, which is about 90,000 or 96,000 square feet, and it’ll serve about 2,200 students.
How will Plano homes change in the next decade?
PL: Homes have gotten larger and the lots have gotten smaller. For builders, it’s advantageous to have a larger square foot home. People get enamored by the shiny new objects, the media rooms, game rooms, all that. I think we’re going to see a shift to a smaller home moving forward. We’re going to see people wanting to downsize as our population gets older.
Do you think the average price of homes will rise as much as it did in the past decade?
PL: I think the prices have settled out. We should still see some appreciation, but I don’t know if it will soar like it has. Plano doesn’t just stand alone. It’s surrounded by so many other good communities. There’s a lot of competition here. It’s hard for us to have double digit appreciation when we have this many to choose from.
Do you envision a strong desire for more apartments versus single family homes in 10 years?
PL: One thing I’ve always liked about Plano is that it has always been relatively affordable for all income types. So I think apartments are an essential part of the mix. There’s been a strong demand in the rental market, and I think part of it is because of the cost of homes had gone up. Take the Collin Creek Mall [redevelopment] as an example. I’d love it if they had things that were geared towards empty-nesters – townhomes, maybe small, single-story, patio homes. The buzz word right now is walkability. People want to be able to get out and walk to a coffee shop or restaurant. We need more of that.
I’m seeing young people buying the single story ranches there in south Plano, and putting money into them, remodeling them. Those lots down there are such a nice size, and there with Downtown Plano and Collin Creek Mall that’s going to be revitalized. I think if you’re gonna see a real desirability in that area.
What were the biggest economic developments in Plano in the past decade?
SB: The $3 billion Legacy West project is nearly finished and took only four years to complete. High-profile corporate offices for Toyota, FedEx Office, JPMorgan Chase, Liberty Mutual, Boeing and more were established. The remainder of the development has provided new apartments, shops and a hotel.
What are some business trends you expect in the 2020s in Plano?
SB: I believe companies will increasingly leverage the culture of their brand to attract a talented workforce. Company culture will become a critical competitive advantage, and the “Chief Culture Officer” will become much more common in corporations.
The potential for an increasing scarcity of highly skilled talent as well as the rising cost of real estate in urban areas may create an extreme distribution of the workforce. Technology continues to make it easier for people to work from anywhere, anytime. As individuals enjoy that option and demand schedule flexibility, companies will become even more accepting of remote work.
What are some exciting economic developments coming to Plano in the next decade?
MI: There is a lot going on on the U.S. 75 corridor. We’ve seen Samsung and Peloton create office space and campuses there at Legacy Central. You’ve seen some apartments go in there, which has created a bit of a mixed use development.
Across the highway is the Envision Oak Point Plan area. That presents a tremendous financing vehicle for businesses to locate there. The Moore farm over there presents a very opportune location. Council gave us approval to pursue a hotel at Plano Event Center.
We obviously have the Collin Creek Mall redevelopment happening. You have the Rosewood project going on along Plano Parkway. The First Baptist Church has been rezoned. You have the Silver Line coming in with DART. We also have the Los Rios golf course, which the City purchased several years ago. That will connect to Bob Woodruff Park, and Bob Woodruff connects to Oak Point Park. So it becomes a very long park system on the east side of town. We think 10 years from now, the U.S. 75 corridor will look very different.
We saw many large corporate offices move to west Plano in the past five years. Do you think that trend will continue into the new decade?
HL: In December Council approved close to 1,400 jobs – new jobs that we created through three different companies. Back in August we approved Reata, a medical research company. So from August to now, we’ve brought in the same as about half of Toyota’s Plano office – close to 2,000 jobs. Not a lot of fanfare because it’s not Toyota. But if you were to ask any mayor, ‘How would you like to bring in 2,000 jobs in the last five months of the year?’ The answer would be yes.
If there’s one thing I can say for pulling off 4.0 is that Plano is still open for business. As long as we can deliver a safe city, good schools, quality services, and a sense of community, then we’ll always be in the game to attract companies.
How do you think that people moving to Plano for jobs has affected our city culture?
HL: That diversity is our strength. When new companies come in, we make it clear to them: ‘We don’t want you to just come in here, have your people work and then leave. We want you to be part of the community.’ Every company has their own projects and things that matter to them. As mayor, I think this is my number one job, to be a connector, of companies to companies, companies to people, companies to nonprofits and nonprofits to people. Just recently we were voted the most caring city in Texas, 14th in the country. We have a great community that has a big heart.
How much development has been added in Plano in the last decade?
CD: From Jan. 2010 through Nov. 2019, Plano added 12,400 housing units, with 4,000 being single family and 8,400 being multifamily. In that same time period, Plano added 1.9 million square feet of retail.
Overall, how do you think commercial development in Plano has changed in the past couple of decades?
CD: The city is now an inner-ring suburb where we were once on the outer edge of the growth pattern of the Metroplex. This has impacted the community’s identity as “the fastest growing city” in Texas and in the top five nationwide. The value of land has driven the city to see additional density in development, due to the cost. Office developments are increasingly less of a sprawling campus, and more compact and desiring of on-site amenities to attract and retain talent.
Mixed use development has been the trend for the past 10-15 years. The trend is continuing, but has evolved as people seek unique and authentic experiences with their time and money. Additionally, the growing competition between a strong variety of “mixed use” developments in Collin County alone has made them less distinctive and demands more from the development to be noticed in the market.
How does City Planning affect the culture of a city?
CD: The way a city is formed and how it changes over time is a critical part of its identity. Think about our nation’s capital. What would Washington, D.C. be like without the large public squares, height limits to preserve the view of the capital, and extensive public transit system, or neighboring Georgetown without historic preservation? Places are strongly influenced by public policy, and it reflects the values of the place.
What are the biggest differences you see in the Plano Public Library of today as opposed to the past?
LH: Twenty years ago, we had a more traditional approach to library service, focused heavily on books and print materials. Most programs were focused on children. Ten years ago, the economic downturn forced us to do more with less, combining positions and cross training staff. This was possible utilizing technology that allowed patron self service and checkout. We were beginning to look at nontraditional things for the library, like robotics and STEAM.
Today our collection is broad and reflects the diverse community we serve. Many digital resources have been added, technology has become a central element of how we deliver service and the programs we offer, and our spaces provide learning opportunities related to science, engineering, language, cultures, history, financial management, careers, the arts and more.
What do you see on the horizon for Plano Public Library in the next decade?
LH: I see the library continuing to be central to our community. We’re working with corporate and community partners exploring the newest trends and technology. In this increasingly tech-driven world, the library will continue to be a place where people can be inspired and connect with other people. Plano Public Library will continue to bring opportunities to explore things of the future: 3D design, video communication, AI, robotics, technology. Our staff will always be the heart of the library. Information is readily available to the public in this digital age, but the personal connection, guidance in navigating the overwhelming amount of data to find what is of value to a patron – this is the service library staff provide.
How do you think Plano Public Library affects the overall city culture?
LH: Libraries are a welcoming space for residents to engage in meaningful conversations, build community and connect to others. We have approximately 4,500 people visiting our libraries each day. Additionally, our staff are engaging with the community at city events and school and neighborhood gatherings. When people talk about the library, they do so in personal terms, saying “my library” and “I love the library.”
How did the restaurant scene change in North Texas in the past 10 years?
KK: Trends such as ethnic mainstreaming, upstreaming and the growing demand for experiences instead of material goods is dictating what we see today. Ethnic mainstreaming has resulted in sushi being available in supermarkets and Thai in the suburbs. Upstreaming, the desire for indulgence and affordable luxury, is reflected in the demand for artisanal, locally sourced, fresh, high quality ingredients and dishes, and therefore in restaurant concepts that deliver on those desired attributes.
Do you think our changing demographics have had an effect on restaurants that open locally?
KK: Yes. As we continue to see corporate headquarters choosing to make Plano their home, they bring a workforce increasingly diverse. A strong case in point is the great success that Blist’r, our Indian food concept at Legacy Hall, is seeing in year-over-year sales performance. As the Indian population increases in the area, so too does the demand for Indian cuisine.
What changes in Plano’s restaurant scene can we expect in the next decade?
KK: We’ll continue to see an emphasis on concepts that deliver on the overall culinary experience and fulfill the desire for exploration and authenticity. Legacy Hall, with concepts such as Whisk & Eggs (authentic French crepes), Beijing Brothers (Chinese hand-pulled noodles), Press Waffle Co. (Belgian Liege waffles made from scratch) and Degenhardt’s Brat Haus (German Brats crafted by second generation sausage makers), represents the future in the sense that there’s an opportunity right here, in Plano, to immerse in the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of a collection of culinary experts who are passionate about turning each meal into a unique, authentic experience.
A key challenge for restaurateurs and others in the industry, including food halls, will be in how they’re able to differentiate themselves from competitors, and continue to serve as the destination of choice for those with disposable income and the desire to immerse themselves in a true culinary experience.
What were the biggest changes in Plano’s arts community in the past decade?
MH: Prior to 2008 Plano had a one-percent-for-art program. In 2008 there was the economic downturn, and the City cut the program. If funds and grants become available for a specific project, then we select a board of stakeholders to go through the call-for-artist selection process. That’s where the Portal Project in Downtown Plano came from.
You see more events and festivals now. There’s always something going on, which makes events slightly competitive. We have definitely seen more art venues pop up. Courtyard Theater, McCall Plaza, Red Tail Pavilion and Cox Playhouse are just the City-owned venues. Downtown Plano was recognized as an Arts District with the State of Texas because of the thriving creative scene. Art is a part of our everyday lives and people want to celebrate it.
What do you see for arts in the next decade?
MH: A city’s art scene helps define the city. We’ll see art and events become much more significant. I believe we’ll see a few of our festivals grow large enough to drive quite a bit of tourism. We’ll see more temporary art installations where we celebrate our local artists instead of bringing in outside artists. Because of the opportunities, you’ll see an art community of artists, artisans and musicians thrive in Plano.
What were the biggest changes within Plano’s population in the past few decades?
SS: First is the decreasing population of young adults ages 25 to 44 as well as children under 18. At the same there has been tremendous growth in the median adult population ages 45 to 64 and seniors 65 years and older. The second trend is increasing diversity. Our minority population is quite diverse with 19% Asian, 15% Hispanic and 8% Black. The third trend is a growing number of people who were born outside the U.S. In 1990, one out of 10 people in Plano were born in another country, as compared with one in four today.
Changing demographics in Plano has led to a very diverse population. where 58% of the children under 18 are minorities, and one out of three people in 2017 spoke a language other than English as compared to one in 10 in 1990.
How do you predict our population will change in the next decade?
SS: Demographic projections indicate the continuation of an aging population and increasing diversity. After 2040, projections indicate the aging of the population will slow down when smaller groups such as Generation X and Millennials reach age 65 years and older.
We need everyone in Plano to complete and return their census forms this year as we desire a 100% count of all our residents. The more people who respond in March and April, the fewer tax dollars spent on Census Takers trying to track down non responders. The cost of missing one person to the state of Texas is $15,000 over 10 years. Readers can find more info at plano.gov/census.
What were the major changes to DART transit in Plano in the past decade?
TP: We implemented the Orange Line service which increased rail service frequency. We built the Northwest Plano Park and Ride lot near the Dallas North Tollway and Tennyson. We added GoLink on-demand service. When you get off the train or want to get on the bus, you put your request into the GoPass mobile app and a vehicle will pick you up and take you there. We added UberPool, which is a shared ride Uber trip that supplements GoLink service.
Can you tell us about the new DART rail Silver Line?
TP: We are starting construction of the Silver Line, which will operate from Shiloh Road in Plano, then to 12th Street. That line shifts down to George Bush station and will continue west with stations at UT Dallas, Knoll Trail in North Dallas, Addison, Carrollton, Cypress Waters and then DFW airport. It will radically change the speed at which people can get to the airport. It’ll be completed in December 2022.
What is DART planning to alleviate growing traffic in Plano over the next decade?
TP: One of the most significant changes is the reenvisioning of our bus network and our GoLink on-demand services. We will decide based on where people work, where they live and the changes in demographics of the region over the last 30 years what the system should look like. We believe we need to reenvision where our resources are spent on the bus network and on-demand services to give people a realistic chance to use public transit. That could reduce traffic.
Are there new technologies DART plans to implement in Plano in the next decade?
TP: DART is part of a consortium to design, procure and test pilot Level 4 autonomous buses. With Level 4, buses will operate along a route that’s programmed, but we would have a driver-capable person there to answer questions and help collect fares. The buses likely would be electric, so they would not be using CNG or diesel. They won’t be here until 2022 or 2023. DART believes that these kinds of technologies are going to occur, and that we need to test pilot them.
What are Plano’s biggest challenges going to be in the next decade?
MI: I think transportation and traffic are definitely high, but it’s keeping up with infrastructure, too – water lines, sewer lines, those sorts of things. And the challenge is that the cost to build those 40 or 50 years ago was a fraction of what it is to replace them today. It’s also very disruptive to replace those things today. So it’s finding a method to keep up with that enough so that it doesn’t become this giant liability. The biggest challenge is keeping up to make sure that we have great facilities, that we are a desirable place, that we have great schools, great infrastructure, public safety.
HL: The bigger picture challenge for our Council is understanding the opportunity before us. Plano’s problems are the envy of other cities. If we don’t understand that, then we’re going to miss a window where we can do a lot of good things and market ourselves in a way that very few cities can. If we’d rather focus on the things that aren’t working – like the struggle between apartments or not apartments, and new people moving in, and saying I don’t want any new companies because it’s causing traffic – if we’re willing to forego the good for the inconvenience of the new, then that will be a lost opportunity for us.
We’ll never be who we were in 1980 again, but the type of city we are is still the same. We’ve just evolved and it’s in a different package. We are that same city that is known for the cornerstones: safety, schools, quality services and a sense of community.
All answers have been edited for brevity.