The Heart of FriscoFeb 01, 2016 ● By Allie Spletter
The dirt has long since been moved and ongoing construction has readily prepared and finished a large, new multi-use building called “The Tower at Frisco Square.” Frisco Square has also recently welcomed Ablon at Frisco Square, a large, new apartment building. Grace Church is in full building mode for their new facility and numerous restaurants are opening throughout the space. The $5 Billion Mile might be just down the road, but it has not overshadowed Frisco Square’s development in the past few years. The astounding changes are notable, noticeable and pumping money into our economy. The exciting operation is making citizens even more proud to call Frisco home!
The Place to Be and Be SeenAs a long-time staple in our vastly-growing community, Frisco Square is a multifaceted, master-planned development located at the intersection of Main Street and the Dallas North Tollway. Some people (as you may have heard recently) are referring to the intersection as the “$1 Billion Intersection.” From homes and offices to retail, multi-family and municipal facilities, the quaint, yet quickly growing, development spans an area of some 147 acres and neighbors Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas soccer and the future site of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Frisco Square already offers a wide variety of restaurants, specialty shops, small business, boutiques and entertainment, conveniently located within walking distance from one another! As most Frisco residents already know from experience, locals can easily grab a burger at Jakes Uptown or sip on margaritas at Mattito’s before heading over to POParella’s, a specialty popcorn shop, for a snack while waiting for their movie to show at Cinemark Theatres. Visitors can even catch some live music at Espiritu Fine Wine, Ale & Spirits. We already seem to have it all, and so much more is yet to come!
Frisco resident Genny Black says that Frisco Square already provides the perfect atmosphere and environment for a fun date night. One can only imagine the new destination options with all of the continuous growth! “My husband, Randy, and I love going to the Square for date night and we are always excited to try out the new restaurants and little shops. Our favorite thing to do is grab dinner to go and picnic on the lawn of Simpson Plaza in the summertime, while we listen to the bands that are part of Music in the Square,” she says. In addition to all of the great options for dining and entertainment, the area is also home to facilities that are innovating and expanding all the time. Here you will find the Frisco Public Library, the Heritage Village and Museum, the Frisco Discovery Center and Black Box Theatre, the Sci-Tech Discovery Center, as well as offices for Collin County and Frisco’s picturesque City Hall.
The evolution of Frisco Square through the years, although slow at first, has made it one of Frisco’s most popular destinations for a night out or some family fun. Mark Flynt, the president of the Frisco Square Property Owners Association, explains, “Although slower than anyone anticipated, and due to the significant recession the country faced from 2007 to 2011, Frisco Square has become, and continues to be, an excellent, family-friendly dining and entertainment venue. The amenities offered also attract residents for the multi-family projects and office tenants for the office properties. Frisco Square has become one of the best-known mixed-use developments in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as a result of the numerous events in and around Frisco Square, like Christmas in the Square, Arts in the Square, Music in the Square, soccer games, high school and college football games and concerts across the street at Toyota Stadium, along with many other city-sponsored events.”
At any given point in the year, Frisco Square is the place to be for quality entertainment. The many events Mr. Flynt mentioned are part of what make Frisco Square so family-friendly and fantastically unique. Year after year, regardless of the growth and changes in the area, these events return by popular demand. The annual Christmas in the Square holiday lights and music spectacular is one of the most popular Christmas destinations in the metroplex. As you may have had the joy of experiencing this past holiday season, the Square dons millions of dancing lights and extravagant Christmas decorations that create a truly magical feeling. This past Christmas, there was even an outdoor ice skating rink! In the spring, the Square hosts Arts in the Square, which is a collaborative effort with the Frisco ISD. Proceeds go to the Frisco Education Foundation and Frisco Family Services. The event features more than 120 of some of the best local and regional artists who sell their handmade creations. Visitors enjoy incredible art and can sit and relax by Simpson Plaza while listening to local musicians, watching performing arts, enjoying interactive art activities and indulging in the food and spirits available at the variety of award-winning restaurants on site. Frisco AP art and ceramics teacher, Brook Buchanan, has participated in the exciting Arts in the Square event for the past couple of years. She shares, “I have been a part of Arts in the Square for the past two years, and even in that short two-year period, I have seen much growth. The festival itself has grown, and with each year, they have finessed the festival to function more effectively.”
Throughout the summer, Frisco Square hosts Music in the Square on Saturday nights. Families are invited to hang out on the Simpson Plaza lawn while listening to great tunes and soaking in all that summertime brings with it here in Frisco. In addition to the more advertised large events, there are also events like 5K walks/runs, parades and the ever-popular Frisco Rotary Farmers’ Market. Frisco Freedom Fest during the Fourth of July showcases the local sense of American pride with fireworks and festivities and it helps local businesses continue to thrive during the summer months.
Like a good bottle of wine, Frisco Square has only gotten better and bolder throughout the years. The task of merging all the previously mentioned events (that are so dearly loved by long-time residents) with new, unique businesses has really changed the look and feel of Frisco Square. It has quickly proven itself as a popular destination in North Texas -- one that residents are proud to call their own. Mr. Flynt adds, “Since the City of Frisco chose Frisco Square to locate City Hall as the focal point of the development, Frisco Square has both the opportunity and the obligation to be a premier development. We value our relationship with the City and the developer to have a surrounding development that is considered one of the best life, work and play environments in the metroplex.”
Office and retail tenants are making the move to Frisco Square to join in on the fun and to make Frisco Square even better than it was before. In the past few years, the addition of Cinemark Theatres, Jakes Uptown, Barre3, RocketFizz, NOLA Grill, Three Squares and Pizzeria Testa have all brought unique and exciting components, only adding to the variety, allowing patrons many options to enjoy a family meal, get a workout in or shop for unique and exclusive items. Mr. Flynt says the growth in and around Frisco Square has helped the retail tenants, as well as the restaurants, as sales are trending upward. It is anticipated that the growth will continue as the surrounding areas progress toward full maturity. He adds, “We are very pleased and proud of the variety of dining and entertainment venues that have joined us at Frisco Square, and are committed to adding additional venues that enhance the tenant, resident and patron experience.”
The New Kids on the BlockIn addition to continued success and growth, the area around Frisco Square experienced much change recently, as it welcomed its newest development project, The Tower at Frisco Square. The Tower at Frisco Square is a significant addition to the area! It offers retail and office space, along with a new, fresh look to the surrounding architecture. The Tower at Frisco Square is a $35.7 million development that includes five stories and 173,157 square feet of office and retail space, fronting Main Street with a brand new, five-story parking garage just to its south. The building was developed by Encore Office LLC in partnership with Wolverine Interests, which acquired the land to develop the mid-rise office building for Gearbox Software. Mr. Flynt is encouraged and excited about the addition of The Tower at Frisco Square, as it is an important addition to the area for many reasons. “The fact that a major tenant, Gearbox, has chosen to locate its headquarters in The Tower validates that Frisco Square is a viable large tenant alternative to all of the development to the south. Additionally, the ground floor retail space provides additional restaurant and retail options for tenants, residents and patrons of Frisco Square,” Mr. Flynt explains. “The Tower parking garage, along with the adjacent public parking garage, will provide visitors multiple covered parking options when they visit Frisco Square.”
Regarding the vision for The Tower at Frisco Square, Wolverine Interests’ managing partner, Jim Leslie, shares, “We have worked closely with the leaders of the City to come up with a plan that will create a vibrant city center that all of the residents can be proud of. We continue to attract the appropriate occupancy to create a strong sense of place you would expect to experience somewhere in Europe. We were trying to create something that would be attractive for the next generation to be a part of, not only working, but the entire experience. It was important the architectural quality fit with the ‘old world’ theme we were trying to create, as well as have a 24-hour feel to it. It is hard, today, to design a building that has any artistic features to the façade because the economics are so important to the investors. We were able to add a ‘tower’ element to the building and design something that is unlike anything in the city of Frisco. The city leaders have done a terrific job in creating a city unlike any other in the metroplex; the land use planning, the size of schools in the school district, the right mix of commercial versus residential tax base, the forward thinking fire department and the list goes on and on. I am proud to be associated with that kind of quality people and honored to be a part of it. It is truly a great place to live (and work).”
Amidst the excitement and talk of the $5 Billion Mile, Mr. Leslie credits our city leaders’ planning with the momentum that Frisco Square and The Tower at Frisco Square have gained and continue to gain. He explains, “I certainly appreciate all of the hype around the $5 Billion Mile and the message the City has created around it. The activity there simply shows how terrific the city leaders have been in planning the community and the attractiveness it has to so many users around the country. That being said, the timing of absorbing all of the announced development in that mile will take close to a generation to finalize. The Cowboys’ move will be exciting and will bring some exciting buzz to all of North Texas. I believe the intersection of Main Street and the Tollway will be much more the lifeblood of the community, as so much is there now, and it continues to show momentum as the center of all of the meaningful city activity. The Tower at Frisco Square is simply one more piece of that puzzle.” Mr. Leslie adds, “The activities and development have been very thoughtful and consider the human element in all of the plans. As compared to Victory Park in downtown Dallas, we have not lost the scale of buildings to the human element. The area is very warm and has many things to attract people (Toyota Stadium, City Hall, Cinemark Theatres, living units and even a church, shortly). It will only get better and is one of the best areas I have seen across the country.”
Though Frisco is, admittedly, booming, the addition of The Tower at Frisco Square gives residents yet another aspect of the city to be proud of. It is yet another place in which they can support the people and businesses that have chosen to make Frisco their new home. Rebecca Bowman of Encore Office LLC shares, “The Tower at Frisco Square ultimately brings quality companies and cohesive architecture with the city’s ultimate goals in mind. The Tower allows the residents of Frisco to work, dine and shop right in their own town square, which keeps money in Frisco, which then funds aspects of the community like schools and roads. The Tower also brings family-friendly brands, which continue to build strong foundations across the community.”
The fact that The Tower’s lead tenant is Gearbox Software, may be just as exciting as the new development itself. It is a company unlike any other in Frisco. Cutting-edge technology and innovation is here to make its mark! Gearbox Software, an award-winning, independent developer of interactive entertainment was founded in February of 1999. Game industry veterans decided to make Frisco the new home to the software company after outgrowing their Plano office. The president of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, brings nearly 250 team members and other creative types to the new location. Gearbox Software has distinguished itself as one of the most respected and recognized independent video game makers in the world. Mr. Leslie credits Gearbox Software with one aspect of The Tower at Frisco Square that he is most excited about. He explains, “Having The Tower house the world headquarters for Gearbox is amazing. They are very creative and well-respected in their industry and beyond. The gaming industry is where more and more of the entertainment dollar is being spent and is clearly the direction our society is going. It changes constantly with new technology, and the leadership of Gearbox is leading that charge.”
That leadership has driven Gearbox Software to the top of its game and the diverse and hardworking members of the team share a common goal in using their talents to the best of their abilities in order to bring joy, fun and happiness to their customers through the vast world of gaming. The Gearbox Software team creates, owns and manages brands, including the award-winning, best-selling “Brothers in Arms” series and the record-setting, genre-breaking “Borderlands” franchise. Members of the Gearbox Software team manage and drive an extensive and impressive portfolio of licensed and internally-produced ancillary products that include video games, comic books, action figures, apparel, art prints, fictional novels, non-fiction reference books and linear media content for film and television. Gearbox Software is a tight-knit family of artistic, creative, forward-thinking and passionate individuals whose collaborative efforts, with highly intelligent, dedicated, talented people, seek to inspire and be inspired. Frisco is excited to welcome Gearbox Software and to be part of all of the innovation and change the company will bring to the local scene.
Just beneath Gearbox Software, on the building’s bottom floor, three restaurants are set to open their doors in the near future. These new establishments will only add to the variety and quality Frisco Square and The Tower at Frisco Square have to offer. The Tower at Frisco Square will be home to what is believed to be the nation’s first bar and restaurant themed entirely around videogames. @nerdvana.food+spirits and @nerdvana.coffee+shop are a vision that has come to life for Mr. Pitchford’s wife, Kristy. Mrs. Pitchford’s location will celebrate everything to do with videogames. The restaurant and café will each have their own respective entrances, but are located next door to one another (with a connecting door). The bar area of the restaurant is set to have areas streaming games that invite customers to go inside and play. The theme of the spaces will be a nod to the gaming world, with references to Gearbox, of course.
Also calling The Tower’s bottom floor home is Burger 21, a fast-casual establishment that boasts crafted burgers and shakes. It is the vision of the owners of The Melting Pot restaurants, who sought to create a modern burger restaurant that offers a unique variety of high-quality foods in a hip environment. Burger 21’s distinctive burger creations and signature shakes are what set it apart from other burger companies. What makes the company rank even higher on the col scale is its commitment to the communities they choose to call home. As part of Burger 21’s culture, each restaurant donates 10 percent of the day’s proceeds (on the 21st of the month) to a local charity or school. To date, Burger 21 has provided more than $120,000 in contributions to local charities and schools.
You know a new development here in Texas is not complete without a little Tex-Mex, which is why ZuZu Handmade Mexican Food is also going to be calling The Tower at Frisco Square its new home. ZuZu’s affordable, customized menu is an expression of its healthy philosophy, and their food is made fresh, daily, from scratch. From the delicious salsas on the help-yourself condiment bar to the fresh lemon limeade, diners can count on a new take on local Tex-Mex!
Enhancing the Sense of CommunityAnother exciting development taking place in the Square is the new building for Grace Church. After breaking ground in May of 2015, church leaders hope to have the project completed by March 2016 so they can hold their grand opening on Easter Sunday. Grace Church’s lead pastor, Craig Cabaniss, shares, “The story behind our relocation is unusual. Our land in Frisco Square was donated to us by a developer who desired to see a church built in the center of our city at Frisco Square. Not only was the land donation an amazing surprise to us, but the location was a shocker as well. The streets on the east and west side of our lot were named before our church even existed. The streets are ‘Grace Street’ and ‘Church Street.’ Years before knowing anything about land in Frisco Square, we chose the name ‘Grace Church.’ It is a ‘coincidence,’ startling enough to even get the attention of a nonbeliever! We believe this location is a miraculous provision for our church family and will allow us to serve our community more effectively by placing us in a central gathering spot for Frisco and the region. We hope we can increasingly serve our city by providing volunteers and other means of tangible support to some of the many events in Frisco Square. We also hope our facility will be a blessing to the city of Frisco, as they might have need on various occasions for a meeting space larger than City Hall. Ultimately, our calling is to share the good news of Christ’s love with as many people as we can, and our Frisco Square location provides a central and visible platform to do so.”
As Frisco Square continues to expand with new residents moving in and new employees working in the expanding number of businesses in the Square, the church desires to make meaningful connections with the surrounding community. Residents in Frisco Square will be able to walk right to their neighborhood church. The church family is also considering ways to serve the growing work force through daytime ministry opportunities like a Bible Study around breakfast or lunchtime, or to host seminars covering topics that could equip people to better serve God through their daily vocation.
The sense of community that Grace Church will provide to the expanding area is exciting and astounding. “We are eager to be a part of the growing development in Frisco Square. It is a thrilling time to live, work and worship in Frisco. So much is happening here with new development, but at the heart of it all are people with real needs and real challenges, amidst Frisco’s burgeoning prosperity. We want to bring the good news of Christ to people throughout our city who wrestle with the real, daily burdens of a difficult marriage, a struggling teen, a financial hardship, a health crisis or a secret addiction. Our city is prosperous in so many ways, and I am thankful for that, but the teachers, counselors and pastors of our area will all tell you that underneath all the safety and prosperity of an exploding city, there are real people with real struggles who are looking for real answers and real relationships. That is what the church is all about,” Pastor Cabaniss says.
Living the Luxurious LifeIn addition to The Tower at Frisco Square, the “$1 Billion Intersection” also welcomes Ablon at Frisco Square, a 275-unit luxury apartment project that sits just to the south of The Tower at Frisco Square (across from the Cinemark Theatres). With new industries and some of the most exciting jobs around, prospective residents are flocking to the area to take advantage of these exciting new opportunities and to become a part of our growing community. Younger audiences and businesspeople are about to take the area by storm. Ablon at Frisco Square gives them the perfect place to call home, smack dab in the middle of all the action in Frisco. Much like Mr. Pitchford’s excitement about being a part of the community, the principal and founding partner of PegasusAblon, Mike Ablon, realized Frisco’s potential as he made the decision to bring Ablon Apartments to life in Frisco Square. He says, “Similar to older cities, the city square in Frisco represents the heart of the city and its civic activities. The opportunity to develop the highest quality apartment project in Frisco, on the town square, gave us the chance to integrate high-quality living in a highly-activated suburban-urban environment. There is a growing desire, beyond just the millennials, to live in an environment based upon a higher experience level. The Ablon at Frisco Square offers custom home type finishes, individual amenities and common amenities that a renter-by-choice is looking for in the Legacy/Frisco area.”
Kevin Hickman, the vice president of asset management at PegasusAblon, adds, “We are able to deliver a project that incorporates one of PegasusAblon’s core values -- taking a long-term view in everything we do and taking care of our community and the common good. Every aspect of this project was planned, knowing that it would eventually become part of the fabric of Frisco Square, from the 14-foot ceilings in the first floor units to the plaza area facing City Hall.”
Mr. Ablon believes that the luxury apartment development will most definitely positively impact Frisco Square and surrounding areas. “The growth of Frisco, the recruitment of high-tech companies and high-quality jobs requires a full range of road and highway infrastructure that support retail shopping, schooling, amenities and living environments. Ablon at Frisco Square takes another step in filling the need for the highest-end, suburban, multi-family, renter-by-choice living space,” Mr. Ablon clarifies.
Prospective residents can choose from four different apartment layouts, ranging from one bedroom and one bathroom to units with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Inside the Ablon at Frisco Square’s apartment units, you will find spacious interiors with modern furnishings and stylish decors. Features and amenities like a resort-style, salt-water pool, a brand new fitness center and free Wi-Fi throughout the common areas are part of what sets the apartments apart from others. Residents will enjoy high-end kitchen appliances while taking advantage of Ablon’s exclusive technology package that features flat screen televisions and sound bars in every unit. The apartment’s proximity to all that Frisco Square has to offer makes it a premier place for both businesspeople and families to call home. There will be no lack of people to fill the new businesses and destinations opening within walking distance from the apartments. Get ready for a new, more urban feel to the area!
What you used to think of when you envisioned Frisco Square is rapidly changing. New companies have found their perfect homes, providing additional job growth and innovation to this expanding area. With so much happening in and around Frisco, residents can look forward to the fun, unique, interesting and entertaining options that Frisco Square has to offer, now and in the near future. While the whole community gets larger and celebrates the future opening of all of the amazing destinations within the $5 Billion Mile, do not forget about what is happening right here in the center of the town we get (so luckily) to call home! The new and improved Frisco Square is just waiting for you to check it out and explore all it has to offer.