Why Search for Restaurant Ruse When You’ve Seen This?

McKinney is full of mysteries. And they just keep piling on. How could the City Council possibly be entertaining spending money looking for a place to put the infamous Restaurant Row when they have a place right in front of their faces? Even Councilman Day spoke to it in a public meeting. He said there are only two viable places: 1) Downtown McKinney and 2) Gateway.

Gateway is where the City has already invested untold $millions. How many $millions? A citizen compiled a list totaling over $70 million, and I’ve yet to hear anybody say her numbers are wrong.

Ask any City official who ought to know. If they don’t know, why haven’t they asked? If they do know and won’t say, why would they take that position? If they do know and tell you, then why would they invest so much in one property and then pretend they aren’t sure if it is a good spot for Restaurant Ruse after making such an investment? Have they decided it is a money pit and don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad?

Here is why I point out the need to question the rationale for pushing a Restaurant Row, especially if it is to compete with an already presumably good property.

Please download and look at the Gateway Project plan that was being prepared by Lincoln Properties. Placed adjacent to the Emerson Campus, the Collin College Center, the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center are the following:

Office Site: 5.50 acres.
Office Site: 4.95 acres.
Office Site: 6.30 acres.
Office Site: 6.83 acres with 4 story building.
Office Site: 4.94 acres Class A, 10 stories with parking garage.
Restaurant Pads: 3.32 acres for two restaurants.
Restaurant Pads: 4.31 acres for three restaurants, making a total of five – IN A ROW!
Office Site: 7.44 acres with two Class A buildings, one 6 stories and one 8 stories.
Park Site: 2.03 acres.

There is a mystery as to why Lincoln Properties got this far to prepare a brochure with a plan and expected availability of Spring 2017 (the brochure is dated in September 2015) and then pulled out. I understand a key person at Lincoln Property passed away about this time. But I also heard that the numbers just didn’t work out for them to be able to develop a profitable project.

And why would that be the case? No market demand? If so, then how could that be with 74,401 people within 3 miles and 180,898 people within 5 miles? How could that be with daytime employment being 25,650 within 3 miles and 63,495 within 5 miles? How could that be with Average Household Income of $96,991 within 3 miles and $102,973 within 6 miles? How could that be with 103,000 vehicles per day coming down US 75 and 30,000 vehicles per day coming down Eldorado Parkway?

Nevermind that you can’t see this property when driving north on US 75. Nevermind that if you exit Eldorado Parkway when you when you do get a glimpse of the property, you can’t turn onto the property. But tall buildings will help with the identity some day, and it is not the worse location in the region with sites near clover leafs.

Or is it? Has anybody fessed up to this being the worst location in McKinney after sinking so much money in the property?

More mysteries. So many mysteries. Why won’t anybody come forth and tell the citizens? We can handle the truth. We just can’t handle mysteries and the reasons behind the mysteries.

But let’s go back to the brochure you’ve downloaded.

Why aren’t we starting with this plan and moving forward? If we are going to spend money (more money), what would it cost to rule out this site first before we looked elsewhere? That would make more sense.

Better yet, why wouldn’t we spend a little pocket change in relation to the money already spent to have a valid market study done – or for existing marketing studies to be updated? Why isn’t the MEDC on fire to turn this into a big winner given they own all or most of the property?

Or does this fall into the category of “Perfect But Not Now.” Ouch! My guess is that some of the biggest deals in the region have come about because of patience Plano and Frisco officials and developers have had in the past that is a foreign concept in McKinney. What is McKinney willing to sacrifice to have something on a major corner other than grass when the truly big deal is a few years away. We only have so many prime corners in McKinney.

The single biggest economic development tool cities had for years before incentive agreements, EDCs and  CDCs were allowed (worse laws ever created!) was the proper investment in the roadway and utility infrastructure that opened the paths to private investment. Oh wait, that’s not very sexy and is without the ribbon cutting and photo ops. That’s way too basic. Even though that is possibly the biggest way to be investing today to be ready when it’s McKinney’s time at some point in the future. There’s nothing McKinney can do in a grand way to compete with Plano, Allen and Frisco by wearing the change dispenser belt.

Yet, the Highway 5 Corridor, the Airport (the single item no adjacent city has) can be a game-changer. Lots of open land to the north, but the traffic counts are on the southern central side now.

In the meantime, houses can be built, and yes they are – everywhere. Even though no incentives are needed, McKinney has granted some developers with the use of MUDs with little concern about how that is going to play out in the future.

The famous management consultant, Peter Drucker wrote a book in 1954 and then wrote dozens of books that followed a central theme: “Build On Your Strengths!” Don’t waste resources on trying to fix all of your weaknesses.

If Gateway is not one of the handful of our strengths, then McKinney needs to fess up and declare it so, place it in mothballs and wait for a better day. If it is one of the major strengths, then build on it.

And instead of sprinkling money here and there, think about consolidating the resources to be placed into transportation, infrastructure corridors and things that will matter in the future. Think investment. And patience.

Council, MEDC, if you have a clue as to where we are going and how we are going to get there, please declare it so and shine the light so no mysteries exist. LFM




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