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Stories of Service

Posted on: August 5, 2019

Community Development: Building an Allen for the Ages

Artist rendering of an urban development with central fountain, park, patio restaurants, office buil

How Community Development staff protects Allen’s character and plans for its future.

Every time Allen racks up another accolade (such as CNBC’s “Best Suburb in Texas” or MONEY Magazine’s “#2 Best Place to Launch a Career”), Allen residents are delighted, but not surprised.

“No wonder I love living here!” gushed one citizen on Facebook.

“Shhh—don’t share our secret!” joked another.

“Communities like this don’t happen by accident,” explained Community Development Director Marc Kurbansade. “It’s careful planning—driven by public input—that makes Allen so vibrant and valued.”

For the better part of two years, his department’s efforts have been focused on one of the most coveted pieces of property in DFW: 261 acres located at the intersection of US 75 and SH 121. Developer Howard Hughes first announced its vision for the project, dubbed Monarch City, in 2017. The glittering “city within a city” would feature office buildings, residences, retailers and hotels situated around a central park.

The project fit within the City’s comprehensive plan, created in 2014 with direct input from residents and business owners. To move forward, developers asked Allen City Council to consider allowing form-based zoning—a designation that ensures quality standards while allowing flexibility to accommodate evolving needs of the City and future tenants.

City councilmembers unanimously approved the project on June 25, but the Community Development Department’s involvement is far from over. A project of this size requires hundreds of visits from city building inspectors to examine everything from fuses to fences.

For some facilities, such as food establishments, this partnership is a lifelong one. Environmental health specialists stop by Allen restaurants throughout the year to ensure equipment is sufficiently cleaned, food is properly stored and employees follow steps to avoid foodborne illness.

 “Our department is truly in it for the long haul,” said Kurbansade. “Whether you’re new to Allen or you’ve been around for decades, we’re here to help protect your health and safety.”

 That enduring commitment is especially visible in some of Allen’s older neighborhoods, where code compliance officers work with residents to address issues that are unsightly or unsafe. If homeowners can’t afford a fix (or aren’t physically able to do it themselves), programs facilitated by Community Development staff are there to help. Using federal funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the city helped 20 homeowners complete $256,000 in eligible repairs last year. For repairs that might not qualify for CDBG funding, a new Property Improvement Program has been created with grants from Happy State Bank and Legacy Texas Bank.

 “Allen will be around longer than any one of us,” says Kurbansade. “We want future residents to inherit a place that only gets better with age.”

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