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Allen Launches Citizen Downtown Revitalization Committee To Boost Community Buy-In

Allen's mayor and city council have appointed a 13-member committee to plan the future of the downtown area.

A downtown Allen revitalization effort that has been fraught with controversy over the years is getting new life with the appointment of a 13-member citizens’ committee charged with masterminding a new vision and plan for the city’s central business district.

The Downtown Steering Committee kicked off work late last month on a yearlong initiative to gather research, community input and collaborative partnerships toward a goal of creating a “workable” and actionable plan for Allen’s aging downtown area.

“For the next 12 months, the committee members and city staff will work tirelessly to learn more about the downtown area, actively seek and listen to members of the Allen community (including the city's residents, business owners, landowner, and developers), and develop a plan that will revitalize the center of our wonderful city,” Committee Chair Tommy Baril said in a release earlier this month on behalf of himself and 12 others appointed by Mayor Ken Fulk and the Allen City Council.

The geographically diverse committee, which includes two council members and professional experts, will divide its work into three phases: data collection and analysis of the CBD’s current status, a community visioning process, and implementation of selected strategies based on public input and successful initiatives in other localities.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, office development in the north Dallas suburb boomed, with new projects coming online, especially along the growing 121 Corridor, even as the sector languished in other parts of the country.

But downtown development has been a thornier issue in recent years.  A 12-acre office, residential and retail mixed-use development proposed for the district two years ago drew community ire, with residents lining up to oppose its size, scope and character. The mixed-use project that would have included 825 apartment units, ground-floor retail and office space was envisioned as a catalyst for downtown development, but it was ultimately nixed by the Allen City Council based on neighborhood outcry.

Involving residents in the city’s development future was a top campaign promise for Fulk, who was elected the city’s first new mayor in 23 years last fall. 

“We need to create a detailed vision for the Central Business District that respects the existing development in the old downtown area,” he told The Allen American. We further need to better define where and when high density residential or urban residential can be considered and under what terms, in the CBD or elsewhere.”