Eastside Village: Downtown Plano Station (Plano, Texas)

Posted by | Filed under Case Studies | May 21, 2011 | No Comments

Project Summary

Eastside Village is located in downtown Plano, Texas immediately adjacent to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Downtown Plano Station along the Red Line and the DART bus system.  Plano is a large suburban city located approximately 19 miles north of downtown Dallas.  It has experienced enormous growth over the past 50 years growing from 3,600 in 1960 to almost 260,000 today.  While experiencing such dramatic growth, like many rapidly expanding suburban towns, Plano’s downtown was left out.  This area is home to the city’s municipal offices and historic neighborhoods.  The traditional main street (15th street) has several boutique shops, eclectic restaurants and service retail.  Community attractions include Haggard Park, a Farmer’s Market, Plano Arts Centre, the Interurban Railway Station Museum and Eisenburg’s In-line Skate Rink which are all within walking distance to Eastside Village. 

Eastside Village was developed as a public / private partnership between the City of Plano, Amicus Partners, and DART.  It was built in 2000, three years prior to the DART Red Line expansion to the area.  Developer Robert Shaw of RTKL Associates, Inc. helped transform a largely vacant tract in the center of town to an attractive, red brick, mixed-use village directly fronting the DART station.  Eastside Village was built in two phases. 

Features of Eastside Village (Phase I):

  • $17.7 million development
  • High-Density, mixed-use, 3.6 acre development of 245,000 square feet 
  • 234 apartments (65 units per acre) 
  • 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail space
  • 3 and 4-story buildings that wrap around three sides of a 5-story parking structure

Today with the addition of Eastside Village (Phase II) the project now features 500 residential units and 40,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Station Attributes:

  • Station name: Downtown Plano
  • At-grade double track side platforms
  • Parking spaces: 0 (nearby public lots are available)
  • Average daily ridership: 650
  • Peak service frequency: 10 minutes

Area Demographics (1/2 mile radius):

  • Population: 4,134
  • Employment: 3,585
  • Total Households: 1,582
  • Median Household Income: $35,677 (2000 Census)

TOD Evaluation Criteria:

Walkability:  The project itself is very pedestrian friendly with tree-lined brick paved sidewalks, benches, decorative pole lights, appropriately scaled storefronts and tucked away parking.    

Connectivity:  The connection to the DART light rail station is exceptional, with the station literally at the front door.  The walk to the municipal buildings and Haggard Park is equally convenient.  However, trying to access the main street is somewhat problematic and there seems to be an excellent opportunity to extend a pedestrian pathway through the north buildings along 15th to Eastside Village.  This would connect the project to 15th in a much more direct manner.  As a side note to the City of Plano, it seems there is also an opportunity to slow down traffic along 15th and increase visibility.  Perhaps by creating raised pedestrian crosswalks to slow down traffic and change the head-in angled parking to parallel parking with  valet  areas, this may improve the ambiance and convenience for those visiting by car.  

Mixed-Use and Mixed-Housing:  Eastside Village now contains 500 residential units over 40,000 square feet of retail / commercial space with ample parking for visitors and residents on the compact site.  The retail space for the project lacks clear connectivity to15th street and appears to be struggling.  Most of the occupied spaces seem to be offices, perhaps part of the live/ work program the project offers.  However, if the block due south redevelops and opens towards Eastside Village creating a strong pedestrian connection it will greatly improve the likelihood for success of the retail space.

Quality Architecture and Urban Design:  Eastside Village was designed by RTKL and Womack + Hampton Architects and was the winner of the 2003 CLIDE Landmark Award for Excellence in Redevelopment.  The architecture is reminiscent of old downtown red brick architecture with appropriately scaled storefronts.  However it is lacking adequate retail signage such as blade signs, wall plaques, and internally illuminated wall signs needed for a vibrant retail presence.  Without a concerted effort to improve the retail presence at the property it is merely a place for people to live adjacent to a main street and mass transit.   

Community:  While community can be experienced at the many events that occur year-round at Haggard Park, community within the project was not experienced.  The “heart” of the project was not apparent but may be an intentional gesture to allow community to be experienced within the greater context of downtown.  It is understood that the Phase II courtyard and pool will offer opportunities for community within the development, however outdoor seating areas, dining, cafes, and the like which activate the sidewalks create a more comfortable setting in which to socialize and meet neighbors.   

Density:   The project boasts over 65 units per acre.  This is an extremely dense project with an efficient design to maximize the building footprint on the site.  

Sustainability:  While the fact that Eastside Village is a transit-oriented development makes it a more sustainable choice, it is not clear if the building systems were designed with above average energy or water efficiency in mind. 

Overall Betterment of Life for Residents: Being somewhat of a pioneering project, Eastside Village is a drastic leap in the right direction for TOD in the DFW Metroplex.  There is no doubt that residents feel part of historic downtown Plano and connected to the greater Dallas area via the DART Light Rail and Bus Transit systems.  Reduced auto expenses mean more disposable income, savings and investment dollars and mass transit in lieu of auto gridlock means less stress and more personal time, whether from reduce commute times or available time spent on the train for reading, working or relaxation.  Eastside Village is a Plano jewel that should be embraced and expanded upon.  The city should continue to integrate and, most of all, connect the rest of downtown to this project. 

     

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