In Allen, a developer is hoping to bring new life to the city’s quiet downtown central business district. A new project called Allen City Center would feature four and five story apartment buildings along with office space and possible retail.
But the development borders one-story, single family homes to the north where some neighbors are petitioning for changes to the plans.
Deedie Scaife, who lives along the north boundary line of the proposed development, said the tall buildings would look directly onto her yard.
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“I just am so upset about it,” said Scaife. “When I look out my kitchen window every day, I will see a four story apartment building. I feel like it’s encroaching on our privacy and it’ll block the sun and definitely impact my quality of life.”
Scaife said she noticed a developer was buying up property behind her home in the Whisenant Estates area of Allen, located east of Highway 75 and just north of West Main Street more than a year ago.
In December, she saw plans for Allen City Center when they were submitted to the Central Business District Design Review Committee. According to the initial plans, the development would feature 850 to 1,000 apartment homes, office space and shops.
“It’s a suburban-urban type of environment,” said Jim Leslie of Dallas-based Wolverine Interests, LLC. “We’re finding a lot of millennials that don’t want to buy homes are wanting to rent.”
Leslie said Wolverine began working with the city on plans to buy property in the central business district in 2015. In discussions with the city, it would buy a portion of the land to build a park while the developers would add a hike and bike trail.
Leslie said the development could entice new business to that part of Allen.
“There’s not much as far as people coming to entertain themselves,” said Leslie.
He said he’s met with some homeowners this week who asked about one or two story town homes instead of taller apartment buildings. Leslie said the development relies on density to bring new business to the area.
“More and more people will come downtown kind of like what’s happened in downtown Plano and downtown McKinney,” Leslie said.
“I love the fact that they’re trying to rebuild downtown,” said Amy Giles, owner of the Allen Birthing Center, housed in a historic home on the southern edge of the proposed development.
Giles said she’s excited about the development potentially bringing new life to the area, but is concerned about the placement of parking garages in the development and the additional cars added to the traffic on West Main Street.
“We already have lots of accidents that happen at our corner and we don’t want it to pick up anymore,” said Giles. "The thought of having more traffic was a little disturbing to us because we have families with little kiddos that like to run out."
The City of Allen said the design committee approved initial plans in December but the developer’s proposal will still need approval from the Planning and Zoning Committee before heading to the city council.
“The City of Allen is committed to creating a safe, beautiful and stable community through our development process. Our staff is currently reviewing this proposal to ensure it meets Allen’s high standards and fits the character and vision of our Central Business District,” said a city spokesperson in an email to NBC 5.
“We’re not against redevelopment or rejuvenating downtown but we don’t think four apartment buildings, four story and five story, with 900 apartments is the right way to go,” Scaife said.
Scaife said the city should have notified neighbors sooner about the potential development.
She’s started a petition to ask the city to consider the neighbor’s concerns ahead of any public hearings on the final plans.