Plano Looks To Expand Downtown Revitalization With Incentives

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PLANO (CBS11) – The City of Plano is looking for ways to draw in more real estate developers to expand its downtown revitalization.

The empty lot between 11th and 12th streets west of Municipal Avenue is a rare piece of undeveloped land. Some of it will eventually become parking for a proposed new rail station and the surrounding areas are what city leaders hope will be filled with new projects.

But everyone agrees it needs to be developed carefully.

New businesses along 15th Street are part of a strategic effort to revitalize the downtown Plano area. The plans date back to late 90s when the city created a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone where it offered incentives for development. Now the city council wants to expand that zone south to keep the momentum going.

“There’s a lot of different businesses coming in. They’re hoping that the area itself will expand,” said Ben Revell, who works at Dude, Sweet Chocolate that opened on 15th Street about a year ago.

The chocolate shop could be getting a lot more customers with the addition of more affordable housing and other projects in the area. Plano’s Director of Special Projects said the city will waive permit and development fees inside the expanded zone.

“What that does is hopefully stimulate both new development and existing development,” Peter Braster said.

It would also apply to individual homeowners looking to make improvements. But not everyone likes the idea.

Richard Sutton has owned properties downtown for decades. He said the revitalization is good, but believes it’s time to slow it down.

“In effect, they’re killing the downtown with some of the overdevelopment. They need to take a hiatus, for lack of a better word, re-plan, and try to provide parking before they keep building more units,” Sutton said.

City leaders said additional parking will be available during the next 18 months to accommodate those they hope to draw to the area.

“It would be a great idea to have more families come out and experience what it is to actually be a part of the community,” Revell said.

The expansion of the empowerment zone also allows the city to offer tax incentives and require energy-efficient construction.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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