Legends at Chase Oaks presents itself as a stylish and inviting apartment complex with great views and easy access to the best food, culture, and business that Plano has to offer. For the past two months, they’ve had one small request for Plano City Council: they want to renovate and expand, adding 124 more units to their complex.
But the Legends at Chase Oaks team was disappointed on Nov. 9. Plano’s City Council rejected their request because of their plan to expand.
The developers at the Legends at Chase Oaks apartments asked to build closer to the edge of the property, expanding a public common area, and adding another dog park. They also wanted to add three-story buildings in some areas, increasing the number of units from 346 to 470. Planning and Zoning voted to recommend the plan 6-2 and one nearby voluntary homeowner’s association wrote a letter of support for the plan, and seven residents wrote in opposition.
“I appreciate that the developer is wanting to reinvest into an aging property in our city and I think that’s vitally important,” Mayor Pro Tem Kayci Prince said ahead of the vote.
But she added that she struggled with the idea of additional units, having visited the property. “It’s hard for me to see, especially on the east side, where additional units will go, how those will fit in the current plan.” She said she hoped they would invest in the property renovations, but made a motion to deny the request.
Councilman Anthony Riciardelli said that the impact would “set the precedent that in order to revitalize existing units, you have to build more.”
The Legends at Chase Oaks decision is a sign of the times in Plano, where any high-density or multi-family housing has long been unwelcome. Just look at what happened to the city’s award-winning Plano Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan.
The Plano Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2015. When it was announced, it garnered national recognition for its urban planning and economic opportunity. As suburbs age, they often face economic deceleration and eventual decline. Plano Tomorrow, produced in-house by the city’s planning staff, was built to sustain long term growth and continue to attract bright young minds.
However, in order to house all those young minds, Plano Tomorrow planned for the city to tap out at about 40,000 apartments.
“All the data shows us that the best and brightest, the young millennials, have a lot of school debt, they’re getting their career started and they aren’t ready to buy a single family home, an SUV, and take the kids to soccer,” said Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, who will not run for reelection, in a March 2019 interview. “...If a city isn’t willing to invest in the housing stock that attracts [them], that city will become irrelevant.”
But high density apartments like Legends at Chase Oaks have long been very unpopular in Plano. As Plano Future, a group dedicated to retaining Plano’s suburban charm, wrote on their website:
“The Citizens see this Plan as an intent to Urbanize Plano and a threat to Plano's suburban environment that has made it a safe city with great schools and a high quality of life with a very diverse popluation [sic]. This is the reason most of us selected Plano as a place to live. The high-density urbanization is overcrowding our streets, schools, parks and infrastructure.”
The citizens against the plan submitted a petition to repeal it. A city secretary chose not to pass it on. Five years later, the council received the petition, the city council stopped fighting to keep Plano Tomorrow alive. In August 2020, they voted to repeal Plano Tomorrow rather than fight an expensive battle, leaving the old 1986 plan in its place.
Ironically, according to the council, the 1986 plan called for a total of 60,000 units across the city, 20,000 more than Plano Tomorrow would have built.
Plano is in the midst of redefining its future and a committee is reviewing matters. When Legends at Chase Oaks presented their plan for renovation and expansion, grandfathered under the Plano Tomorrow Plan, their expansion request naturally gave the council pause. Without a plan in place, it's likely a battle that they don't want to fight.
Following the council's comment, the Legends at Chase Oaks applicant sensed the denial coming and asked for the decision to be tabled so they could reassess.
But the motion to deny was already on the floor; tabling it was not an option
"We just had a conversation on density and one big concern we have about housing is that they get old, they don't look as good and is that a detriment to the community. I think this is a great example," Mayor LaRosiliere said. "For two years, the applicant worked with our staff to get this to us and gone through multiple owners ... this is an example of an older property and someone willing to maintain it ... I think it's worthwhile."
Mayor LaRosiliere acknowledged that the addition of units was causing consternation and he was likely the lone wolf in approving of it.
The council voted against the plan 6-2. Mayor LaRosiliere and Councilman Rick Grady were the only votes in support of the plan.
If the Legends at Chase Oaks applicant wants to come back, they have to submit a new application and start the process over.