Ken Kalthoff

H. Ross Perot Leaves Lasting Legacy in Plano

Plano leaders say H. Ross Perot helped put the city on track to become the place it is today

People in Plano reflected Monday on the changes in their city set in motion 40 years ago by H. Ross Perot, who died Tuesday at 89 years old.

Perot's Electronic Data Systems assembled thousands of acres of farm land around 1980 for a new headquarters in the Legacy development that included plans for the restaurants, stores, homes and other offices that are there today.

Former State Sen. Florence Shapiro was a Plano City Council member when Perot and his team first proposed the plan.

"And we said, 'The man doesn't know what he's talking about. There's no way that that's going to happen,'" Shapiro said. "So he was a visionary. And he came back and proved us all wrong, obviously."

Perot himself spoke about it in a 2007 video for the city of Plano.

"They were getting ready to build the toll road and there were going to be a lot of big roads around it and we thought this would be great because most of our people live out in Plano," Perot said. "So we bought literally several thousand acres out there because we thought that if we moved our campus out there, others would come. It is all just a dream come true to see that huge amount of development in that area."

Indeed, Frito Lay and JCPenney quickly bought headquarters sites from EDS. The toll road was completed through Plano and development is racing even further north.

Shapiro said Perot's vision for a mixed-use development set a standard that is in demand today.

"At the time he called it Legacy, but the reality is, now that Ross Perot has passed, it really is his legacy," she said.

Members of a group of out of town visitors at the Boeing office in Legacy Monday said they were impressed with the amenities.

"We're basically amazed at this wonderful opportunity, this wonderful facility out here," Boeing employee Dawn Meyer, visiting from St. Louis, said. "We were able to go from our office building, our meetings and walk down the street and have just a fantastic lunch."

Plano Economic Development Director Sally Bane said Perot sent Plano on a new path.

"He was pivotal, because originally this property was not intended to be the business park that it is today," Bane said. "Today, Plano is the opposite of the bedroom community. We're a net importer of jobs."

Bane said the city of Plano supports a total of 218,000 jobs with 2,400 acres of land for development still available.

The Dallas Central Business District supports 135,000 jobs according to the business group Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Contact Us