Downtown Plano: Plano, Texas

Summary

Downtown Plano was once the sleepy, nearly forgotten heart of a farming community swept away by Dallas's suburban expansion. Today, Historic Downtown Plano is a fascinating mix of future and past.

Designated Area

Downtown Plano is bordered by roughly 18th Place and 16th Street (North), roughly F Avenue (East), roughly 14th Street and the St. Louis/Southwestern Railroad (South), and roughly N and P Avenues (West).

The Historic Downtown Plano renaissance as an urban center was stimulated by the arrival of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail service. At present, more than 1,000 residential units are within a quarter-mile of the station

The Historic Downtown Plano renaissance as an urban center was stimulated by the arrival of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail service. At present, more than 1,000 residential units are within a quarter-mile of the station. Photo City of Plano.

Planning Excellence

The area is experiencing a renaissance as an urban center stimulated by the arrival of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail service. Downtown Plano has a rich history of visionary home-grown citizens, committed to working in partnership with city officials to create a great place. A robust transit village plan, developed in partnership with the city, residents, community development organizations, and consultants, has reimagined the neighborhood's functionality and is exemplary of a true planning success story.

Downtown Plano has maintained its historic feel while integrating modern planning practices such as high-density, mixed-use development. Its iconic red brick streets delineate the neighborhood and set it apart from the rest of the city. Buildings dating back to the 1890s line the streets, renovated into a quaint 80-acre collection of shops, restaurants, arts venues, museums, and housing. With easy access to Dallas and the rest of Plano, residents have flocked to the area resulting in more than 1,000 residential units within a quarter mile of the DART station.

While Plano is a car-dependent city, the downtown neighborhood has been designed with pedestrians and cyclists in mind, making events like the Plano International Festival in Haggard Park even more accessible to residents and visitors.

In October 2016, Plano was recognized by the American Planning Association for excellence in comprehensive planning

Once the sleepy, nearly forgotten heart of a farming community, Haggard Park now exemplifies the fascinating mix of past and present in Downtown Plano

Once the sleepy, nearly forgotten heart of a farming community, Haggard Park now exemplifies the fascinating mix of past and present in Downtown Plano. Photo City of Plano.

Defining Characteristics, Features

Downtown Plano's transformation into a lively and authentic neighborhood, offering a transit-oriented urban lifestyle rarely found in suburban communities, is tied to the light rail station completed in 2002.

  • The City of Plano worked diligently to redevelop downtown into a complete neighborhood after years of decay with suburban expansion. Since the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) station opened in 2002, the image of Downtown Plano has been carefully crafted with features such as red brick pavers, antique lighting fixtures, and pedestrian amenities to distinguish it from contiguous neighborhoods. Watch a video of the recent Downtown Plano projects.
  • There are over 1,000 residential units (homes, apartments, and townhomes) within a quarter-mile of the DART station, as well as a number of small business, restaurants, and other attractions. The diversity of uses is well-established and has contributed to the high ridership in the area. The holistic approach to transit-oriented development has contributed to making downtown stand out, not only in its style, but also in the sense that it is much more walkable than the surrounding parts of Plano.
  • Early planning in Downtown Plano has played an important role in the organic transformation. The Downtown Development Plan adopted in 1992 created an early vision for an urban transit village and mixed-use zoning has allowed for a wide variety of services and attractions in the area. Moreover, the area has items such as maximum building setbacks, traffic calming devices, and a minimum residential density of 40 units per acre that supports a walkable urban environment. New planning ordinances are also being put into place to accommodate innovative placemaking concepts such as food trucks.
  • Downtown Plano is truly unique in its character from the rest of the region. It is the arts and cultural hub, with museums, theatres, festivals and historic buildings which cultivate artistic expression in all forms, including dance, music, drama, and even the culinary arts. There is a diverse group of residents from many different backgrounds that live or work in downtown and the active Historic Downtown Plano Association plays important roles in area's success. Watch a video of Downtown Plano's merchants and staff discuss the Downtown Plano Vision and Strategy Update.  

Events

  • Downtown Plano celebrates the neighborhood with a block party each year, featuring an evening concert and a beer and wine garden. This event is hosted by the Historic Downtown Plano Association.
  • The Plano International Festival is held in Downtown Plano's Haggard Park each year to celebrate the city's diverse cultures.
  • Dickens in Historic Downtown Plano is the City of Plano's annual holiday event. The official tree lighting takes place in Haggard Park, and many businesses in downtown stay open late to start the holiday season off right.
  • Each year, downtown Plano celebrates Junteenth, a day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States, and honoring African American heritage. The celebration takes place in the Douglass Community which is home to one of Plano's oldest districts characterized by strong family connections and a rich African American culture.
  • The Historic Downtown Plano Association hosts a festival each year that draws thousands from Collin County and North Texas to celebrate the best food, music, and arts.
  • Chalk It Up is a new event hosted by the Historic Downtown Plano Association and features local artist sidewalk chalk skills with a concert and movie to end the day and picnic baskets sold by local restaurants.
  • In celebration of Oktoberfest, the Historic Downtown Plano Association hosts the Steinfest event in October.
  • The Courtyard Theatre, a 321-seat venue that was formerly a gymnasium built by the WPA in 1938, is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Plano and is home to stage plays, musicals, and concerts throughout the year.
  • This year, the Historic Downtown Plano Association hosted Night out on 15th, a long-table, white-tablecloth, fine-dining experience down the middle of 15th Street.
Downtown Plano has a rich history of visionary home-grown citizens, committed to working in partnership with city official to create a great place

Downtown Plano has a rich history of visionary home-grown citizens, committed to working in partnership with city official to create a great place. Photo City of Plano.

Pertinent Plans and Documents

1992 Downtown Development Plan

2013 Downtown Plano: Vision and Strategy Update

1999 Downtown Plano: A Vision and Strategy for Creating a Transit Village

Downtown Plano: Creating a Transit Village

Historic Downtown Plano Association

Historic Tax Exemption Program

APA Texas Chapter: 2014 Community of the Year

The City of Plano Downtown Redevelopment Opportunities: City-Owned Properties

Downtown Plano Public Improvement District (PID)

Great Update Rebate

Downtown Arts, Culture and Events Plan

Upcoming/Planned Planning Activities

  • Plano is currently in the process of finishing renovations to McCall Plaza, in order to help formalize the growing arts community in downtown. 
  • Plano City Council has recently passed a resolution declaring Downtown Plano as an Arts District and adopting the "Downtown Arts, Culture and Events Plan" to guide its future development.
  • Plano's Parks & Recreation Department recently constructed a new office, making room for a new mixed use, transit-oriented development in Downtown Plano. The project will include 109 urban-style apartments as well as 12,500 square feet of ground-floor retail and dining.
  • Plano is considering new uses for vacant lots on the edges of downtown. For example, the city recently implemented new codes to regulate and allow food trucks parks.