Plano Chooses Former P&Z Chair John Muns As Next Mayor
Former Plano Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Muns has beaten council member and staunch low-density development advocate Lily Bao to be named the next mayor of Plano.
A third candidate in the race, Lydia Ortega, captured only a sliver of the vote.
Muns bested Bao 52% to 43% in a race that pitted Muns' philosophy, which is a combination of forward-looking development with some emphasis on using different housing products to establish affordability, against Bao's focus on maintaining suburban neighborhoods by pushing back on higher-density projects.
Muns was favored by commercial real estate professionals Bisnow interviewed previously, as many in the industry fear community activists may stall the development of needed mixed-use and affordable housing.
About a month before the election, Muns, who has lived in Plano for several decades, shared his thoughts about commercial development activity in Plano with Bisnow.
Bisnow: Plano residents have complained of excessive density and too much multifamily development. Do you agree overdensification is a problem in Plano? What is your solution either to the perception or reality of overdensification and too much apartment development?
Muns: Plano has established itself as a regional employment destination. Quality job creation provides the resources to deliver outstanding services, revitalize neighborhoods and invest in city assets. We must be able to have all types of housing for these employees that work in Plano.
Bisnow: Plano's housing stock has become increasingly unaffordable to middle-income families, with new and old homes alike selling well above $300K. What are your solutions for creating more affordable housing stock in Plano? How much of a role will multifamily play in providing a solution?
Muns: Plano land area is roughly 97% developed, but there is a significant amount of small undeveloped sites and underutilized property in the city. While maintaining and enhancing Plano's traditional low-density neighborhoods, infill and redevelopment of older, antiquated and blighted property is encouraged, with a low inventory of existing homes, demand is going to drive prices higher. We must encourage some affordable housing, both low-density and higher-density, depending on the location and zoning.
Bisnow: When it comes to the future of commercial development in Plano, what should be the city's top priorities, in your opinion?
Muns: We must oversee the completion of the Collin Creek Mall and Heritage Creekside. Both of these properties are the largest developments in Plano right now. We need to also focus on the Central Expressway corridor and encourage the revitalization of our businesses in the area.
Bisnow: Do you believe Plano has too much mixed-use development?
Muns: Plano is approximately 72 square miles containing nearly 300,000 residents. Mixed-use developments are market-driven. I would encourage mixed-use developments on the east side of Plano. The Legacy West development is a long distance for many residents of Plano. I would encourage more of this type of development on the east side of Plano.
Bisnow: What should Plano do to attract more corporate relocations to the area?
Muns: Plano attracts corporate relocations because of its quality of life, safety, great education and its low tax rate. To continue this great business attraction, we must continue to improve our infrastructure, keep our community safe and continue to attract businesses to keep our taxes low.
Bisnow: What issues when it comes to real estate and community development are not currently being addressed by the city council that you would like to see addressed in the future?
Muns: Plano must prepare for city and regional mobility demands, including changing mobility patterns, technology and travel modes. In general, Plano should become less auto-dependent and more reliant on multimodal, ride-hailing and similar technologies.
Bisnow: Ethics at city council, particularly as it relates to real estate developers, is a major concern in the Metroplex. What would you do to ensure developments approved are not influenced by special interest in the development community but rather by the needs of the city?
Muns: Government best serves the interests of the public when information and consideration of policy, programs and decision-making are open to the public. Special interests can be a two-way street. We must avoid special interests to be involved in decision-making.