Moving On Up

To say the landscape of Frisco has changed over the years would be an understatement of epic proportions. While Frisco continues to be one of the top destination cities in the country, we are not only expanding outward, but we are also moving residents upward! 

A quick drive down the Dallas North Tollway (DNT) illuminates the development of the most recent structural additions to our area – high-rise residential buildings. These new living areas are bringing an entirely new dynamic to Frisco, which is already home to a variety of families of all shapes and sizes who live in single-family homes, apartments and townhomes. With the addition of these new high-rise residential buildings, families and singles alike have a dynamic living area to consider. Frisco residents might not immediately feel the impact from this innovative change, but there are many things to consider, like the impact on property taxes, the Frisco ISD and traffic. City leadership is preparing for such residential additions and first responders are excited and welcoming of the challenge of conquering new heights (literally)! Twelve Cowboys Way, SkyHouse Frisco Station and LVL29 are new local residential high-rise living developments planting roots in our area. With the help of residents, city leadership and emergency response personnel, this vertical expansion will undoubtedly be an additional catalyst for change and growth. 

Tony Felker, the president and CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, says, “These new residential developments help take Frisco to the next level in terms of providing our residents, as well as people moving to the area, additional options and choices in where and how they live. Many today (both young and old), want less maintenance, more convenience and to be located in the ‘hub’ of things. As the community develops, we want a broad and diversified residential base and workforce, and these new developments provide an alternative for those that prefer this sort of housing option.”  

Economic Evaluations

While single-family homes, apartments and townhomes have long been the norm, high-rise residences amidst mixed-use developments offer a new and exciting place to call home.

As the city has grown, so has its vision of where it wants to go and what it ultimately wants to be, and the addition of these developments only supports that notion. “Corporations looking to relocate are looking for work-live concepts that promote walkability,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney says. “Nowadays, human resource teams always have a seat at the negotiating table and want to know ‘Where is my work force going to live? What kind of amenities do you have?’ Mixed-use developments are a tool to bring jobs to Frisco. These developments also help our community become a full life-cycle community.”

New developments are indeed providing valuable economic impact to Frisco. Mayor Cheney explains, “Taller high-rise structures have a greater economic impact because the buildings generate more property taxes due to higher value per square foot. Vertical buildings also provide some unique opportunities to use open space and produce highly-amenitized communities. High-rise developments require higher building standards. Steel and concrete are required. Some folks find high-rise living attractive because of the great views.”

Mr. Felker says, “From a business community perspective, new housing options present new opportunities for companies and services that cater to this sort of housing alternative. Businesses such as pet walking and delivery services will now have additional opportunities that may not be present in more traditional housing developments. Moreover, as companies look to relocate to the Frisco area, having a choice of housing options can only help in our pursuit to bring new businesses to the area.”

Prevalence to the mixed-use developments is creating what is called an “18-hour district,” which is what many retailers and restaurants say they need to survive in today’s competitive economy. “This is what consumers are looking for, so that is where you are blending a variety of uses, which include office and residential components, so they have built in customers 18 hours of the day – morning, noon and night, which increases energy in the area, as well as walkability,” Mayor Cheney says. “One of the challenges Frisco has as a community is that, in the past, many of our developments were auto-centric, where, essentially, you had to drive to every point of destination and then get in your car and drive to the next point of destination just to have a retail or entertainment experience. So, we have been very conscious to create more of a mixed-use, walkable environment where we are reducing car trips.”

Change is Good

When talking specifics, a “high-rise” is typically an apartment building with at least seven stories, while some define them as an apartment building with 10 or more stories.

Admittedly, there is not any one attribute that makes high-rise apartment living more preferred than a single-family home, apartment or townhome, as it is all about what the resident is looking for and wants out of their living space. To those in the market, the pros of high-rise living outweigh the cons. 

Another detail residents have wanted to consider is the potential impact high-rises could have on the school district. However, Scott Warstler, the executive director of operations for the FISD, shares, “The impact of high-rise residential living developments is expected to be negligible. Typically, the taller and more expensive the housing development, the fewer students enroll. Because we expect so few FISD students to live in these developments, we do not anticipate a significant impact to school attendance zones or enrollment growth patterns.”

LVL29 has (you guessed it) 29 stories of apartment living, SkyHouse Frisco Station has 25 floors and Twelve Cowboys Way is a 17-story residential tower. All three of these residences are located locally. 

Unless you have stayed at Embassy Suites here in Frisco, you have not seen a real bird’s eye view of your surroundings, but new high-rise residential developments offer stunning views of Frisco, Plano, McKinney, The Colony and as far as the eye can see when you are on the highest floors. Just imagine that sunset! Life in any of these residences comes with the advantage of being right in the big thick of everything going on in the city, while cutting down or possibly eliminating, in some cases, commutes to work, school or surrounding entertainment attractions.

Always having an elevator is a plus in and of itself, and most buildings have more than one, which cuts down on wait time. High-rise residences usually offer more leasing options and vacancies, as well as furnished apartments. They also provide the luxury of utilities and maintenance and most are already wired for cable, Internet and other essential communication technologies.

Of course, the pros and cons of high-rise living are dependent on where one chooses to call home. Living on the first floor provides immediate street access but does not offer the views associated with upper floors. Perks of living on a higher floor include more privacy, natural light, less noise, less insects and better ventilation. Perks of living on a lower floor include easier street access, less walking/waiting and lower energy costs. 

The Big Three

While one might be nestled just to our south, the Frisco area has three big-time high-rises nearing completion that are forever changing the landscape and skyline. And, yes, Frisco now has a skyline! Coincidentally and conveniently located near each other, LVL29, Twelve Cowboys Way and SkyHouse Frisco Station are each new and progressive living options to consider. Located along the DNT, each of these high-rise buildings offer unparalleled access to dining, shopping and entertainment options, most conveniently at Frisco Station, next door at The Star and at The Shops at Legacy and Legacy West. Nearby sports attractions include the Frisco RoughRiders at Dr Pepper Ballpark, FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium and The Ford Center at The Star. These new high-rises are also within minutes of major employers at HALL Park, Legacy and Granite Parks and many others.

LVL29, located on the southwest corner of the DNT and Texas State Highway 121, has 29 stories of elevated living offering residents amenities at the footstep of Plano’s Legacy West development. In addition to its unique, curved architectural design, the community is equipped with floor plans ranging from apartments and townhomes to penthouses that are all part of masterfully-designed units. Both The Shops at Legacy and Legacy West are essentially in LVL29’s backyard while Frisco is only a stone’s throw away.

As if The Star could not get any better, its newest addition, Twelve Cowboys Way, will provide 17 stories of one-of-a-kind living that overlook the 91-acre development. Twelve Cowboys Way was co-created by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and Dallas-based developer and Cowboys alumni, Robert Shaw. Of the new residence, Mr. Staubach is confident the development will be an amazing addition to Frisco. He says, “Frisco has truly become one of the premier residential locations in the metroplex in the last few years. It offers everything a person could need or want. We knew we needed to make Twelve Cowboys Way special in order to stand out, and we have done that. Robert Shaw has been my partner for many years and has been a trusted apartment developer, as well. His skill, talent and reputation for perfection is evident in this property. Where else can you live across the street from where the Dallas Cowboys practice, dine and work out? Where else might you bump into Dak Prescott, Jaylon Smith or maybe even Jerry Jones?”

Entertainment, dining and business are all at residents’ fingertips as they are within walking distance to more than 40 restaurants and shops, Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star, The Ford Center, Omni Frisco Hotel, the Dallas Cowboys Headquarters and much more. 

Just north of Twelve Cowboys Way lies Frisco Station, the future home to SkyHouse Frisco Station, a 332-unit, 25-story luxury apartment high-rise. Frisco Station is a new urban development that will bring with it an all-encompassing feeling of well-being for those who both live and work there. Frisco Station has been designed to boast offerings such as fitness amenities, medical facilities and wellness programming in a brand new way that will allow residents to maintain a better work-life balance while enjoying a healthy lifestyle and being surrounded by top-notch businesses, services and amenities. SkyHouse Frisco Station is soon to be the tallest building in Frisco and will feature studios and one, two and three-bedroom apartments with a Sky Deck on the top floor. 

Rush Hour 

With new high-rises popping up, Frisco residents might be worried about the impact additional living spaces will have on the already surmounting traffic conditions. Mayor Cheney says, “The strategic approach of these developments is actually to reduce the traffic burden. From a global perspective, if you look at Plano, for instance, their traffic pattern has changed. It used to be they had challenging traffic going south and now it is more challenging going north. Here in Frisco, a lot of what people perceive to be our traffic issues are people driving through Frisco and they either live north of us or in a neighboring community because there are not jobs, services or retail, so everyone has reasons to go south. Part of our strategic approach is to give people reasons to go north. Projects like the Professional Golfers’ Association of America will help and when the 380 Corridor starts building out, it will actually help disperse traffic throughout the city.”

With the big push to get jobs here in Frisco, these components and high-rise living developments are attractive for corporate users who want to co-locate around environments like these so employees can enjoy where they live and walk to work. “The more we are bringing jobs to Frisco where people are not commuting and are living near work, it provides a solution we feel will help reduce the traffic burden over time,” Mayor Cheney shares. “The biggest misperception we feel in the public is that people see density projects and perceive them as the cause of the traffic burden, and that is kind of a natural leap that people are making. We find this is a false assumption and not the case. Take Frisco Square, for instance. People see those apartments and think they are adding cars to the road, but if you actually go out there and watch and perceive how people move around, it really does not. A lot of people who work at City Hall, Gearbox and the hospital choose to live there, and rather than get in their car and drive to dinner or the neighborhood pub, they are walking.”

Reach for the Stars

City leadership has long held preparedness and preparation at the forefront of the vision for Frisco as it has grown and changed over the years. The ushering in of these new and exciting developments poses a challenge that is no different. While 15+ floor buildings have not necessarily been the norm for Frisco’s emergency response personnel, that does not mean they are not ready to embrace change and keep residents safe. 

While particular developments might be new, the knowledge and know-how of our city’s finest is not. Frisco Fire Department Battalion Chief Jake Leeper explains, “Before these projects even get off the ground, the ability for members of the Fire Department to work with City planning and development and the inspectors and City Hall, etc., are the relationships that help us keep the windows and doors open. When questions come up during development and design stages of such projects, we do not have to go looking for people to get those questions answered. We have developed those relationships through open communication, which really helps manage issues or potential issues before they become real issues for anyone. So, all of that is really helpful in getting to the end game, which is having a really safe residential structure, even if it is 25 floors off the ground.” 

The Frisco Fire Department and emergency personnel are involved from the get-go in order to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency. Fire Marshal John Gillette shares, “We review the processes and systems for the building from the beginning of the project through the life of the building. Many different types of fire inspections are conducted within the building by the Fire Department.” Frisco Fire Department Deputy Chief Scott Vetterick adds, “As soon as it is safe to, our crews are in the building going through and starting to familiarize ourselves with the layout and design during construction. Stations in the district will often take pictures, make slide presentations and do walk-throughs, so by the time it is open, our crews have a game plan as to how they will approach emergency situations and different scenarios.” Knowledge of building systems, types and locations of fire protection systems, familiarity with fire hose valve locations and operations, knowledge of fire-rated walls, partitions and fireproofing in the building are important reasons to gain familiarity and know the ins and outs of a building from the beginning. 

Frisco has actually had a couple of high-rises for a number of years, which include Embassy Suites and a few business buildings in HALL Park. Deputy Chief Vetterick explains, “Once we started with Embassy Suites, we learned a lot and have been perfecting that over the years. We bring in specialists and send our crews out to different cities and different training programs that address how to approach high-rise fires and different high-rise techniques. One of the great things about being border cities to Plano, The Colony and McKinney is that we just completed an almost six-week training program with those departments training in a high-rise doing live scenarios. The challenge with a high-rise building is that the height of the building surpasses the length of a ladder. So, with a 100-foot ladder you could probably get to the sixth or seventh floor, but anything above that, you have to use interior firefighting techniques. Accessing the different areas is where a lot of the challenges lie.” 

Over the course of the last decade, and more so as other high-rises began to pop up in Frisco, our emergency response personnel have worked with different cities that already have high-rises, including departments out of Fla., Dallas, Addison, Farmer’s Branch, N.Y. and several different agencies. This allows the Frisco Fire Department to refine and learn new techniques. “With more high-rises, we have the ability to respond more to these incidents and practice in actual scenarios. We have been working on this over the last decade and the biggest change is the residential component of the high-rise. A lot of our current high-rises are hotels and office space, and the residential component is not really much different than the four-story apartment building, it just raises it 20 stories,” Chief Vetterick explains. 

Unlike routine calls the Frisco Fire Department responds to, the biggest change that will affect the response teams will be the addition of personnel and apparatus to the calls given the amount of equipment needed to carry upstairs, in addition to the movement of hoses, apparatus and supplies, which causes more fatigue. Given the magnitude of the buildings, more responders are needed to make sure crews are fresh during calls. Fire Marshal Gillette adds, “Occupant fire safety education is an important component for tenants and employees to allow them to safely exit in a fire condition for these types of buildings.”

The Frisco Fire Department is very much used to HVAC issues and electrical fires, but the department has not really seen any cooking or food-related fires in high-rises, so they are readily preparing for those types of situations while considering the access and mobility of emergency personnel and residents. Chief Vetterick says, “It is exciting, honestly. This is a new world for us and something we have not had in our calls. All of the pre-planning, fire protection and engineering that goes into this makes high-rises as safe as residential homes. All of those things have been considered in the design piece. It is an exciting time for Frisco to have this type of residential living available.”

Change in and around Frisco has become a constant for residents over the years, and the addition of high-rise living developments will allow Frisco to usher in new families and individuals who seek to create their own exciting lives in Frisco. The fact that each of these developments offers top-of-the-line living arrangements and amenities among some of Frisco’s bustling and most popular areas only makes the venture more exciting and anticipated. 

As Frisco’s residential living landscape is altered, residents will excitedly await all of the positives high-rise living will bring to our community. Onward and upward! The sky is the limit!

Allie Spletter
Allie Spletter is a wannabe foodie and lover of all things pink and crafty.