We often hear buzzwords surrounding new developments. Live, work, play. Walkability. Transit-oriented. But what do these concepts look like in practice in Plano?
Though not as ritzy and new, Downtown is home to a vibrant art scene, a stuffed events calendar and a rich history. To grow the area, though, it doesn’t have to be out with the old to be in with the new.
Plano’s Downtown Comprehensive Plan provides guidelines based on perceived needs of the community, the use of historic elements and increased amenities for Downtown residents.
One of these developments is (temporarily) named Railside Lofts & Courts — a live-work-play-oriented development coming soon to East 13th Street. The development will bring indoor pickleball courts and a new restaurant from Bouldin Acres, and “flex” live-work spaces and multi-family housing from Hines to the property.
Situated beside the incoming DART Silver Line, Railside Lofts & Courts aims to create a transit-oriented, walkable space that reduces autodependency and encourages pedestrians to play — and stay — in Downtown Plano.
One of the property owners on this project, Pierce Cravens, is a Downtown resident himself with a history of development in the area like The Fillmore Pub.
“Our family has been developing in Plano for 50 years, but over the last 20 years we have really started focusing on this area,” Cravens says. “I live here with my wife. I’m in the community. I invest in the community. I work in the community, and I’m excited to be able to bring something like this to fruition within my backyard.”
Railside Lofts & Courts was recently approved by the planning and zoning commission, setting entertainment-developer Bouldin Acres and multi-family housing developer Hines up to break ground on their respective developments in 2024 and 2025.
Bouldin Acres is a family-run, Austin-based entertainment venture. The company recently opened its second Austin location, which features a restaurant and indoor pickleball area.
Matt Carter, owner of Bouldin Acres, sought out the property when looking to open another location with the same community-forward, historic-minded vibe as his other locations.
“I can’t really describe [Bouldin Acres] other than as a community,” Carter says. “We instill that in our staff. Quality food. Quality beverage. Quality service above all. And in doing so, we kind of bring everyone together.”
Several community members came to the planning and zoning meeting to speak in favor of the development, citing the significance of walkable developments and the excitement of the developers to begin working on the project immediately.
“They are the kind of business people that we want Downtown,” says Nathan Shea, owner and operator of Urban Family Concepts. “We need this density Downtown. The only way that Downtown is going to grow and prosper is to bring more people to the area. Downtown needs a walkable area where people can walk and thrive.”
At the planning and zoning meeting, other business owners discussed how Railside Lofts & Courts would benefit their businesses by attracting more people to the area.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this project for a variety of reasons. The word I heard when Pierce called me and began to tell me what they were going to do is number one: people,” says David Briant, owner of 1418 Coffee House. “More people coming into our area, along with the Silver Line, having another destination where people will come in from other areas is a very unique opportunity.”
As the development was unanimously approved during the September meeting, construction is set to start on the Bouldin Acres property in 2024 and finish within six months, while the multi-family Hines property will start construction in early 2025.
“The developer and landowner are very much interested in Downtown as a whole, not just in their projects,” Frank Turner, a consultant on the project, says. “They want a vibrant Downtown area and this is just a piece of a larger set of development. Activities in Downtown add to the character and create a greater interest in Downtown. It really is a catalyst for attracting further investment in the Downtown area.”