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Culvert concerns slow $1B Collin Creek redevelopment in Plano but homes now under construction

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Ground was broken more than two years ago but construction only recently started on the residential phase of the project.

PLANO, Texas — New townhomes are under construction just west of U.S. Highway 75 in Plano as part of a $1 billion redevelopment of the former Collin Creek Mall.

Ground was broken more than two years ago but construction only recently started on the residential phase of the project, which is transforming the old mall site. Collin Creek was Plano’s first large-scale shopping center when it opened in 1981, and was a major commercial hub for decades. But its popularity dwindled because of changing shopping habits and online retail and the mall closed in 2019.

Three construction cranes now loom over the nearly 100-acre site, new roads have been paved and vertical construction has begun on a plan that has been years in the making.

Both the developer, Centurion American Development Group, and the city of Plano said construction has been impeded by the need to upgrade storm drains underneath the site.

“There is a perception that [progress] has been slow, but that’s only because people don’t realize the amount of work that’s having to go in underground,” said Rob Romo, vice president of Farmers Branch-based Centurion.

Through a public-private partnership, Centurion and the city aim to revitalize the old mall, creating a walkable and inviting gathering point that brings together east and west Plano. When it’s all done, the site could have more than 1 million square feet of office space, around 300,000 square feet of retail and hundreds of hotel rooms.

“It’s not like a typical mall where you’re trying to draw traffic,” Romo said. “There will be a lot of activity and vibrancy, which will help retailers who are there.”

Centurion formally broke ground on the site in 2021. Since then, crews have constructed a $67 million underground parking garage with nearly 2,000 spots.

For construction to continue moving forward, the city needs to finish work on three culverts, or storm drains, that run underneath the planned buildings. The original culverts were constructed in the 1980s, and Plano is reinforcing them before additional work can take place.

“These culverts are huge, so it can’t be done overnight,” Romo said. “It has been slower than we would have liked … but unfortunately that’s just one part of redevelopment.”

‘A large undertaking’

Peter Braster, Plano’s director of special projects, said that while it may look like progress has stalled, several projects are happening beneath the surface.

“It’s 99 acres — it’s a large undertaking,” Braster said. “Unfortunately … with today’s supply chain stuff, it just takes time.”

Over the next six months, construction crews plan to install concrete liners around the metal drains to form a new, stronger pipeline.

“It is necessary because the metal [culverts] were reaching the end of their life, so it needed to be done regardless of the development,” Braster said. “Because we are strengthening them, the development can take its urban form, with the streets and parks and all that kind of stuff on top of it.”

Braster said he expects the drain project to be completed by mid-2024. He anticipates the final development as something similar to Legacy West, which opened in Plano in 2017 — a mixed-use hub that has attraction corporations like Toyota.

Currently, business parks Assembly Park and Legacy Central, home to Samsung, anchor the north side of the reimagined Collin Creek center.

As part of the development, Mattamy Homes, Ashton Woods and Brightland Homes plan to build 500 single-family homes on the site and have recently launched construction on townhomes.

A mix of townhomes, duplexes and single-family residences are expected to be complete by next year, Mattamy Homes’ Kaitlyn Anderson said in an email. Sales could start “once our model along with several inventory homes are closer to completion in the spring of 2024,” Anderson said, but noted that pricing isn’t available just yet.

The development’s first apartments will be delivered by early 2025, Braster said. 2024 is intended to be a big year for the project’s first phase, which includes the opening of the parking garage, some retail and restaurants and two public parks.

Project history

In its heyday, Collin Creek Mall was a popular shopping destination for people across North Texas, even drawing consumers from Oklahoma. In its prime, the mall boasted anchor tenants such as J.C. Penney, Sears and Macy’s.

Centurion bought the shopping mall in 2018 and approached the city with a plan to redevelop it into a $1 billion mixed-use district with new office, residential, hotel and retail space. The plan called for demolishing most of the mall but keeping some of the existing structures, including the arched gateway into the mall, as an architectural nod to the property’s past.

Centurion, one of North Texas’ biggest developers, initially studied the possibility of including a lagoon water feature but that element was later ruled out.

A development agreement approved by Plano City Council in July 2019 created a framework for the public-private partnership. It called for the city to help finance hundreds of millions of dollars in public improvements. The agreement, which spans more than 100 pages, spells out a variety of funding mechanisms, including bond sales, grants, public improvement districts and a tax increment reinvestment zone.

The agreement specifies that the city is responsible for culvert improvements on the property, to be paid for with drainage revenue bonds.

Plano City Council supported the redevelopment plans despite initial inclusion of more than 2,000 apartments — the construction of multifamily housing was a hot-button topic in Plano at the time, and remains so today in some circles.

Read this story and more North Texas business news from the Dallas Business Journal.

 

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