Sunday, December 23, 2012

Whole Foods a go for Frisco

With the developer reworking a number of architectural and logistical details since the Whole Foods project entered a lease agreement with the town in June, Frisco's planning commission approved a commercial complex that will be anchored by the popular store.

Set for the Lusher Court parcel at the Summit Stage Transfer Center behind Safeway, the 105,000 square-foot commercial complex's groundbreaking is slated for spring 2014.

The Dec. 20 planning commission meeting included the vacating of a right-of-way to add another 45,000 square feet to the parcel, on a total of 10.4 acres.

Developer David O'Neil, of Brynn Grey X LLC, said the project's high visibility from Interstate 70 will create “a new feel for Frisco and Summit Boulevard,” bringing new commercial traffic from the “15 million cars that drive past Frisco every year.”

O'Neil is known for developing the Wellington Neighborhood in Breckenridge and Peak One Neighborhood in Frisco.

“While we're not shopping center developers per se,” O'Neil said. “I think we know as much about place as just about anybody.”

The project has a proposed park in the midst of the parking area, outdoor seating, including outdoor dining space at Whole Foods and a restaurant elsewhere on the property, and elements such as a firepit at the gateway building and a buffer of trees on the interstate side.

Excitement outweighs concerns

And so far, it has had a mostly open-arms response from locals, according to Jocelyn Mills, director of community development for Frisco.

Calling the project a “catalyst” for new commercial activity, Mills said, “I would say the general response by the community has been very positive ... I would say 99 percent positive.”

Thursday's vote earned a “yes” from each of the planning commissioners present, but a few concerns and comments remained.

Commissioner Donna Skupien said she was excited about the project overall, but expressed some dismay about Whole Foods looking “flat” and the gateway building having a top-heavy appearance.

“I guess this is as good as it's going to get,” she said, expressing disappointment that a previous rendering of a more rustic, barn-like design had not been pursued for Whole Foods.

Thursday's meeting included several modifications to the buildings to address concerns by the commission. While there is no definitive “Frisco feel” for architecture, there are now more wood details to the front of Whole Foods.

The inline building has more horizontal and vertical elements to provide more visual interest, and the gateway building, which has an overall cabin look, is less bulky than originally planned, according to O'Neil.

Frisco Town Council will take up the conditional use permit for 10,000 square feet of office space Jan. 22.