After years of stalled progress, city leaders say a corporate headquarters under construction at the "gateway" to McKinney could jump-start the site's corporate and retail development.
Emerson Process Management broke ground Tuesday on its 128,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on the 90-acre Gateway development between U.S. 75 and State Highway 121.
Plans for the facility also include a world-class research facility and flow lab where the company, which mainly serves the oil and gas industries, will test its products.
"When we had the opportunity to move here, it was prime real estate in kind of the gateway to the city," said Randy Page, Emerson president of regulator technology.
The facility should be up and running next year.
Emerson, which has been located in city limits for decades, now will be the cornerstone of one of the city's prioritized developments.
Mayor Brian Loughmiller said the Gateway development is at the top of the city's priority list.
"If Emerson takes up one third of this site, and then we have the college and, hopefully, the conference center at the other end, we'd have maybe 30 to 45 acres that would be prime for [retail] development," Loughmiller said.
The plan for the Gateway site has evolved over the past decade, and the Emerson project is just the first step in maximizing the area's potential, he said.
"This activity at this end of the development will show them that we are serious about what we want to occur on this 90-acre site," he said.
In the meantime, the city is also focusing on outlining its funding plan for the troubled Gateway Hotel and Conference Center.
The abandoned construction project was tied up in bankruptcy litigation with its previous developer.
But local hotel owners have voiced opposition to the project since the City Council announced it intended to restart work, saying the Gateway site needs more retail and restaurant development to attract enough foot traffic to fill hotel rooms.
The city has cited the need for more corporate meeting space.