While much of Frisco is experiencing phenomenal growth at an almost record-breaking pace, sometimes the history and the very heart of the city can be overlooked.
While we’re in awe of the modern developments rising left and right along the North Platinum Corridor, many of us have also come to relish the unique culture and close-knit community to be experienced in historic downtown Frisco.
Rebranded as the Rail District not long ago, Frisco’s downtown area maintains the true roots and rich history of a place we all call home while offering plenty to do, see, and experience.
Our Rich History
The Rail District runs along Main between the railway tracks at 1st Street east to North County Rd. The area was established in 1904 after the St. Louis San Francisco Railway line was built through the area.
Originally called Emerson, the town’s name was rejected by the US postal service suggesting it would be confused with Emberson, another Texas town. Eventually, the locals and residents agreed on a new name; Frisco City, which was soon was shortened to Frisco.
Our city was born right at the railway line, and over time, it became a bustling area where business was carried out, residents gathered, and events took place. Beautiful homes with wrap-around porches were built along the streets north and south of Main Street, and a true sense of community developed.
Today, most of those buildings and homes still stand. Naturally, many of them have changed hands or been passed down to the next generation. Some have been converted for commercial use.
Frisco remains home to older generations who can tell stories of “back in the day” in Frisco.
The New Old Downtown Frisco
Boutique-style real estate developer Nack Development has embraced Frisco’s history and is committed to restore, revitalize, and retain the character for many generations to follow. They believe it’s not about redeveloping, but rather building upon what’s there and adding value for current residents while remaining true to the city’s authenticity and heritage.
Donny Churchman, President and Owner of Nack Development, brings a wealth of experience handed down through the generations of his family, working within and demonstrating support of city projects, coupled with a passion for revitalizing downtown areas.
Downtowns play an important role in both economic and social growth. When done well, it encourages face-to-face interaction and community involvement and establishes a destination that both businesses and visitors come to by choice. It’s an old-fashioned way of life that has been newly fashioned to become avant-garde again. And what results is a destination that’s so comfortable and well-planned that it becomes everybody’s neighborhood.
Considered the very heartbeat of a city, a downtown area aspires to bring people together to meet, socialize, connect, and share time. Nack believes the rich traditions of downtown areas keep people excited about their community and their work.
Traditionally, downtowns have been the place of commerce, but in many ways, this tradition has been forgotten.
It’s in the spirit of commerce happening in downtown Frisco that they hope to bring people to The Rail District to spend their days and or even reside in various types of Live-Work-Play developments.
As a walkability factor becomes more of an attraction and a priority for people seeking a place to live, more residential options are now available to both families and young professionals right in the heart of the Rail District.
Boutique developments with character like the Patios at the Rail, Tower at the Rail, and The Calaboose will provide a home in a destination hosting all the necessary services within walking distance and provide an opportunity to really surround and immerse yourself in a wonderful community.
Nack Development believes there’s a responsibility in knowing where you came from, in order to know where you’re going.
That’s why President and Owner Donny Churchman has toured a variety of both iconic and small-town downtowns for inspiration of a completely thoughtful reimagination. He aspires to model Frisco’s downtown area after some of the country’s greatest and most well-planned cities.
When Creativity and Collaboration Collide
Alongside developing multi-use projects, Nack also believes in supporting creativity and the arts as an essential element to the Rail District area. To this end, they are bringing a new performing arts center to downtown, in the form of the Nack Theater.
Hosting a range of events to include improv and comedy nights, it will also serve as the future home of the North Texas Performing Arts.
In October 2018, the updated Downtown Master Plan was approved by Frisco City Council. A revitalization project for the Rail District area incorporating connectivity, open spaces, and alternative street configuration, all promoting a theme of walkability and gathering, would also preserve the character and history on which Frisco was built.
Scott Polikov, President of Gateway Planning, the consultants brought on board to update the Master Plan, shared with us the importance of a downtown area, and specifically, Frisco’s plan.
Key to any downtown vitality and visitor attraction, the Gateway Planning redevelopment plan for the Frisco Rail District radically improves walkability and accessibility through comprehensive infrastructure redesign and anticipated reconstruction. Unique to this plan, however, walkability will enable the authenticity of the Rail District to serve as the enduring glue to bond together Toyota Stadium, City Hall, the remainder of Frisco Square, the Heritage Museum, Historic Main Street and the surrounding in-town single family to the east. This bonding will catalyze additional unique dining, shopping, and specialty office drawing from across the DFW Region.
Downtowns can be considered iconic and powerful symbols for a city and often contain the most landmarks, distinctive features, and the oldest but unique neighborhoods that offer rare insights into their city’s past, present, and future. Working almost in parallel with the Master Plan, Nack Development is fully invested in Frisco’s future. Their mission?
Bringing the vibrancy back to center, right into the heart and soul of Frisco. Offering the right mix of restaurants, retail, office space to activate the street. It’s all about place-making, in a way that honors the past and the present by fully capturing the ideals and imagination that live there. By bringing performing arts and a variety of other unique businesses that invite creativity from the outside, in. It’s sustainable. It’s reimagined. Where creativity and collaboration collide, creating a downtown for a new generation.
The Rail district in Frisco is already home to many great businesses that enjoying opening their doors to those who want a local experience. Park the car for a couple of hours and enjoy a morning coffee in Summer Moon or sit and have a chat under the nearby Main Street Gazebo. Here, you can take in the rich past, present, and future that’s depicted in the newly commissioned mural on 4th Street.
Maybe you have to grab a meeting or head to a networking event at the Chamber of Commerce but you have time enough to indulge in a little shopping. It’s just a few steps away!
Time for some retail therapy? No need to get in the car again or hit the mall. Just stroll along either side of Main Street and drop by some great boutiques and gift stores like Lillian Welch, Bittersweet Ivy, Twisted Simplicity, or Sunny Paige.
These are just a sample of what you’ll discover in Frisco’s downtown as it proves it can be a destination we drive to and not drive through.
Phil Christie, whose father J. W. ‘Bill’ Christie helped jump-start a housing development in Frisco, said,
If people don’t make the effort to preserve the important parts of what’s here, we’ll lose our history. We won’t know what it used to be, a way of life will be forgotten.*
*Credit ‘Frisco: The First One Hundred Years’ Published by The Heritage Association of Frisco