Monday, February 11, 2013

Richardson is Playing the Wrong Game

I have been frustrated lately by the direction that development/redevelopment in Richardson is headed. For example, see "Main Street/Central Expressway Study" for my criticism of redevelopment plans for old downtown Richardson; see "The Last, Best Hope for Richardson" for my criticism of development plans for the land around the PGBT DART station; and see "In Southwest Richardson, It's Always Friday" for my criticism of the planned restaurant row in the West Spring Valley corridor.

After the jump, I finger the common source of these frustrations.

Richardson is playing the wrong game. It's trying to keep up with the Joneses, where the Joneses are Frisco, McKinney, Allen, even Plano. Richardson is doomed to lose competition with Frisco if Richardson plays to Frisco's strengths: endless open prairie ideal for exurban sprawl.

That big State Farm campus announced for the PGBT greenfield site? It's going to end up being indistinguishable from any number of similar corporate campuses in Frisco, Allen, and Plano.

Those pretty pictures that accompanied the Main Street/Central Expressway redevelopment study? How did they differ from what any urban planner in Frisco would have come up with other than they were placed on Richardson's existing street grid?

That restaurant row on US 75 at Spring Valley? It looks like something that could be plunked down on a highway access road in a cotton field in Frisco, not something you should put up against a residential neighborhood in Richardson. Rule of thumb: if you spend any time on the question, "What kind of wall will be used to shield the view of the parking lot from the neighbors?", it's the wrong development for Richardson.

Let's face it. Richardson is not Frisco. To win, Richardson needs to play its own game and focus on its own strengths: proximity to Dallas; an excellent network of highways and mass transit; a growing, soon-to-be tier one university within the city limits; and a balance of employment, commerce and residential neighborhoods all in close enough proximity to each other to allow Richardson to be reborn as a 21st century *urban* center. By all means, keep one eye on what's going on up in Frisco, but know that they're playing a different game up there. Richardson should play, and win, its own game on its own court, right here.

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