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Frisco mayor cites 'drive to be great' in fast-growing city's next big projects

Frisco's mayor borrowed a phrase from an NFL great to describe the outlook for his city that's in demand among residents and businesses alike.

"The drive to be great in everything we do is a culture here in Frisco that starts on the fifth floor of City Hall, permeates through every city employee and out into our community," Mayor Jeff Cheney said in a nod to Houston Texan defensive end J.J. Watt and his quest for greatness.

Cheney's comments came as part of the annual State of the City luncheon hosted by the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 500 people gathered at the Embassy Suites to hear about what to expect in the city's future.

The largest zoning case in Frisco's history is coming up with the property of late businessman Bert Fields. His ranch spans more than 2,500 acres with frontage along U.S. Highway 380, Panther Creek Parkway, Preston Road and Teel Parkway. The eastern portion is bisected by the Dallas North Tollway. Cheney called its development "a rare opportunity for a shared vision of creating something special." The next work session about the project is Wednesday night. Show Full Story

Development along the Dallas North Tollway has been rebranded to encompass the 10-mile stretch from State Highway 121 to US 380. It's now called the Frisco North Platinum Corridor. Cheney called the $5 Billion Mile "a tremendous success," but noted that a lot more activity is occurring beyond that one-mile stretch that includes The Star in Frisco, Frisco Station, The Gate and Wade Park.

Hall Park, the city's first office complex, will see significant redevelopment that includes taller buildings, a residential component and green space to rival Dallas' Klyde Warren Park.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and Texas Health Hospital Frisco are also building facilities along the tollway in Frisco. The City Council also recently approved plans for Music City, a 1,000-plus-seat indoor theater, an outdoor stage with 390 seats and a restaurant. Also in the works is the Railhead on 80 acres near Wakeland High School. It's the first mixed-use project north of Frisco's Main Street.

Stonebriar Centre -- one of the most successful malls in the country, Cheney says -- is making improvements to stay relevant. It will be home to KidZania, an attraction that combines learning and fun with detailed role-playing in a miniature city. A Hyatt Regency Hotel that will be attached to the mall also recently broke ground. The 18-story, 303-room hotel will include a conference center, public library and parking garage.

The historic downtown district is also seeing a revitalization. City officials are working on an update to the downtown master plan. Several mixed-use projects are also being proposed by Nack Development, including The Patios at The Rail and The Tower at the Rail. A 200-seat performing arts theater is also in the works.

This fall will bring the opening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium.

Affecting Frisco for generations to come is a new branch campus for the University of North Texas. Cheney said attracting a four-year university has long been a dream for the city.

"For Frisco to become a great American city, we must have an educational engine for our current and future work force," he said.

The deal, announced in April, calls for UNT to spend at least $100 million on a site near Panther Creek Parkway and Preston Road. UNT will also purchase the city's former NTEC building on Research Road in what will be known as Inspire Park. The facility aims to grow and support local entrepreneurs, Cheney said.

Mobility is key to Frisco's future. Cheney referenced a recently announced partnership with to bring a self-driving car service to Hall Park, The Star and Frisco Station.

Frisco Station will also be the testing ground for Uber Elevate, an air taxi service that plans to start offering rides from its development west of the tollway to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by 2023.

"We'll start up our first testing and certification flights in 2020," Russell Laughlin, executive vice president of Hillwood Development, said as part of a panel discussion during the State of the City event. "It's real. It'll happen."

Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney gave his annual State of the City address during a Frisco Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday. (Jason Janik/Special Contributor)

A panel discussion on the future of Frisco on Tuesday included, from left, Frisco Chamber of Commerce president Tony Felker; John Lettelleir, director of development services for the city of Frisco; Craig Hall, chairman and founder of The Hall Group; and Russell Laughlin, executive vice president of Hillwood Development. Behind Laughlin is Darrel Amen, land development manager for Woodbine Development Corporation.

(Jason Janik/Special Contributor)

"The drive to be great in everything we do is a culture here in Frisco that starts on the fifth floor of City Hall, permeates through every city employee and out into our community," Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said Tuesday during his State of the City address.

(Jason Janik/Special Contributor)

Also announced at Tuesday's event:

  • Class XXI of Leadership Frisco will be moving and expanding a community garden that provides produce for the Frisco Family Services food pantry. The existing garden sits on about a tenth of an acre at First Street and Ash Drive. It produces about 1,200 pounds of produce each year for the pantry. The new garden will be in Frisco Commons park near the new senior center. The one-acre plot is expected to generate more than 10,000 pounds of produce.

  • A new website called Give For Frisco serves as a clearinghouse for nonprofits based in the city or serving the local community. Launched this week, the site offers a directory of local groups looking for volunteers or donations. Listings are free. The website,, is hosted by Lifestyle Frisco.

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