Explosive Growth Prompts Plan to Prevent Displacement in East McKinney

McKinney city leaders launched plans to prevent families from being priced out of their own neighborhoods

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With an influx of new homes, new businesses and brand new public spaces, North Texas has experienced explosive growth for years.

In cities like McKinney, that growth can come with serious neighborhood concerns, especially as new growth moves into older, often overlooked neighborhoods.

"When I first came to McKinney the population was 14,000," said longtime resident Thomas Johnson.

Johnson says he has seen a lot of change in McKinney over the last five decades.

"Looks like every year it's starting to grow and getting bigger and bigger," he said.

For years, Johnson said it seemed most of that growth was on the west side of town. Now, he watches crews build the new Tupps Brewery from his porch. Soon, just around the corner from his home, there will be a new town hall complex and mixed-use developments.

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"The council selected the site over here specifically to help reinvigorate and energize some of the vacant commercial and industrial spaces," said Kim Flom, City of McKinney Assistant City Manager.

"When you look at some of the infrastructure and a lot of the reinvestment that has occurred on the west side...there has been a lot of investment and energy that's been happening slowly, more organically here on the east side," Flom said.

Flom says the city has already spent millions renovating parks in East McKinney, including more than $6 million for the expansion and renovation of Old Settler’s Recreation Center. She says many of these projects have been in the development stages for years. She also says leaders are applying for funding to repair roads in the area.

Flom says the change is exciting, but for some, it can feel threatening.

"Whenever there is new development that enters in an area where previously affordable homes were, sometimes that results in rising property values and more investment. That can be a challenge for folks who have lived there for a long time. It's tough. It's really tough and there are no guarantees," Flom said.

Flom says McKinney is trying to prevent displacement and has created a committee of community liaisons to learn what longtime residents need to stay.

"We have prayed for the expansion," said Deborah Bradford, a community liaison and associate pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church. "The poorest ZIP code in the city."

From the pulpit of her church and in her role as a community bridge builder, Bradford shares the city's plans for the future and gathers the community's input before taking it back to city leaders.

"The things that we see in West McKinney, we want to see some of those things in East McKinney as well. You know, we want to see roads improved. And we want to see businesses developed here, and banks. And we like restaurants. We like sidewalks," Bradford said.

She believes those things are on the way and that families have a lot to gain from participating in the process. Bradford says the church keeps a table on display at the front of the pews from a recent sermon as a reminder to the congregation.

"An illustration that there is room at the table for everybody," she said.

Bradford added that she feels that people feel like they're part of that growth and part of the momentum.

"You can feel the hope," she said.

The city hopes residents will share critical information leaders will use to build strategies to prevent displacement by filling out an online survey.

It asks several questions about residents' living situations, including if people rent or own their homes. If they own their homes, whether they need major repairs and overall, what would help them. It also asks whether families benefit from more transportation options, utility, rent or down payment assistance.

"Increasing property taxes is a big concern. Folks want to stay in their homes, even when they see their property taxes go up," said Flom.

Johnson says some people have already started selling and leaving. He pointed out the slab where his previous neighbor's home once stood. He says potential buyers have knocked on his door too but so far, no one has offered what he feels is a fair enough amount to allow him to relocate and build or find another home.

For now, Johnson says he's happy to have a front-row seat to watch his community blossom.

"Them building things and making it better for people, I think that's very good," Johnson said.

The city is still collecting survey responses and is offering respondents a chance to win $100 gift cards. Learn more here.

Flom says they're also moving forward with other plans to combat displacement. She says the council has given approval for leaders to work on building a community land trust to help maintain and build affordable housing. Read more about the city's redevelopment and preservation plans here.

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