Progressive HeritageJun 01, 2017 ● By Amy Richmond
At the same time, and with the same intentional forethought, Frisco fervently pursues projects that connect the community to the city’s strong roots. Indeed, Frisco exudes reverence for its heritage and actively works to ensure its humble beginnings are not forgotten. So, when Donny Churchman, the president of Nack Development, LLC, was looking for a place to start a development in Frisco, downtown became the place to be.
As luck would have it, an iconic part of Frisco’s recent history, Double Dip Frozen Custard, had just moved from its original location, and the car wash next door just happened to be for sale. This left a large corner of downtown Frisco available for new development.
Mr. Churchman recalls, “When I looked into it and looked at the possibilities of how it could change the layout and face of downtown, just with that one project, I got excited.” Mr. Churchman’s mutual passion for marrying heritage with cutting-edge development fit perfectly with Frisco’s goals. His open-minded, collaborative approach to development has resulted in concepts that will revitalize downtown, while still honoring Frisco’s legacy.
The area that may eventually be known as The Rail District in Frisco (from North County Road to the railroad), is the targeted location for Mr. Churchman’s overall vision. “I wanted to make an impact in the city I live in,” he explains. “We wanted to create a theme, an identity and a personality for downtown. I believe it was actually the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association, as well as the city, that floated the idea of The Rail District. We loved it, so we took it and ran with it.” He adds, “With larger developments in the limelight, like The Star or Wade Park … that is where everyone’s focus has been. We really want to remind Frisco that historic downtown is a jewel, and we can do some really special things down there.”
The first development to break ground in the fall will be The Patios at the Rail, on the southeast corner of North County Road and Main Street, where the car wash currently stands and the old Double Dip Frozen Custard was. This innovative multi-use concept will offer amenities not yet seen in downtown Frisco. “The Patio is going to start the rebirth of historic downtown,” Mr. Churchman predicts. “It is going to make it more pedestrian-friendly and bring more people downtown. Instead of just coming to buy one thing or to have a quick meal, now people are going to start coming downtown to spend multiple hours out of their day. And this is just the very beginning!”
Surrounded by extra-wide, 18.5-foot sidewalks, The Patios at the Rail will consist of a three-story, “L”-shaped building with restaurants and retail on the first floor and office space on the second and third floors. Two top corners of this building will feature patio restaurants overlooking Main Street and a new city park. As currently planned, this city park will sit on top of a new two-story parking garage, bordered by the L-shaped, mixed use structure. “Once folks got to see what it is going to look like, the excitement around all of Frisco has been fantastic. Right now, I would say my favorite feature is the rooftop dining, as well as the large sidewalks. It is just going to be very welcoming.”
Mr. Churchman is also quick to point out there is no rooftop patio dining in Frisco right now. “We have talked to multiple restaurants, and all of them are extremely intrigued with the concept and the project.”
He goes on to explain how The Patios at the Rail is just the first step in creating a distinct, yet authentically Frisco personality for downtown. The shared goal of Nack Development, the City of Frisco and the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association is to create a neighborhood that belongs to all of Frisco. “We are looking for shops that are going to fit into a Main Street feel — folks who understand they are going to be servicing historic downtown and the community of Frisco, with the theme that this is everyone’s neighborhood.” The plans are to break ground this fall and open to the public 18 months later, with retail merchants, restaurants and businesses as part of this innovative new landscape.
Around the corner, literally and sequentially, Mr. Churchman’s next development is The Tower at the Rail, located on the southwest corner of 7th and Elm Streets, west of Childress Fabrics and across the street from the iconic Frisco water tower. “The Tower is the epitome of multi-use,” Mr. Churchman explains. “At The Tower, we are putting residential with retail … with open space … with restaurants. We get to bring the idea of old town commercial with old town residential and blend them together to create this really cool project, right across from the iconic Frisco water tower.”
The Tower at the Rail will consist of eight three-story luxury townhomes with rear-entry garages and a two-story building with retail on the bottom and restaurant balcony seating on the top. These two elements will be joined together by an open-space park area. With plans for The Tower at the Rail currently progressing through city approvals, interested parties have already started to contact Mr. Churchman. “The momentum downtown is crazy right now,” he says. “There is a gentleman named Matt Calloway who is ‘Mr. Downtown’ when it comes to real estate. He is listing these homes downtown and selling them at record prices. So, to bring in a luxury townhome in this market to get a more historic urban feel, I think it is just perfect timing. It is truly a supply and demand issue. There is just not a whole lot of supply downtown for residential. When you add the character of these homes and the historic feel to them with what we are bringing downtown, it is truly going to be a special place.”
Mr. Churchman credits the efforts of Mr. Calloway and the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association in finding developers like Nack Development to invest in downtown and prevent it from getting left behind by bigger developments along the Dallas North Tollway. “It is easy to wake up in the morning and get excited about what I am doing,” Mr. Churchman says. “This is just the beginning. Downtown is about to take off. From the city and the merchants to the residents and my investor, we all have been collaborative in the process. We want to make downtown everyone’s neighborhood. It is going to be a cool place. You are going to like it!”