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MCKINNEY: OUR DOOR IS OFEN.

By D Magazine |

Heart and soul. That’s McKinney, Texas-a community brimming with all the homespun warmth of a hand-pieced quilt, stitched together with a strong thread of sophistication that is uncanny for a city its size. McKinney’s magnetism is hard to put into words. However accurate they may be, the standard ambiguous descriptives like ’’unique,” “quality or “variety” lack that element of vitality evident in most every aspect of McKinney life.

Become acquainted with McKinney and you’ll only want to get to know it belter. Walk around the (own square and ask folks why they live in this town where the average store proprietor closes up shop in lime to have supper with the family. (Its like they were waiting for you to ask the question!) The unanimous response has a lot to do with the city’s location and proud heritage, along with its residents can-do kind of spirit.

A picturesque 30-minute drive from Dallas. McKinney dwellers value their distance from the big city as much as they value their proximity. Settled in 1848. the town was named for Collin McKinney, one of the 60 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence-appropriate perhaps for a town that it’s doubtful will ever suffer from an identity crisis. Quick to correct those who refer to their city as a suburb. McKinney residents take pride in preserving their hometown’s foundational history. The heartbeat of the city still pulses around the old town square, and even though the original courthouse was outgrown several years ago, it remains as a centerpiece amidst a banquet of antique shops, art galleries, specialty and outlet shops and cozy dining establishments.

The community’s “family appeal” is making a lasting impression not only on McKinney’s residential factor but on business and industry as well. A progressive-minded city government and chamber of commerce work hand in hand to bring home the point that action does speak louder than words. And so, on all levels, McKinney is growing with a kind of controlled, incremental growth that is cultivating this once sleepy little fanning community into a flourishing municipality.

McKinney has somehow maintained a balance of the best of the city and the coun-try. As the capital city of Collin County- named the nation’s sixth-fastest growing county in a study conducted by a division of Dun & Bradstreet-McKinney has done anything but just sit on its county seat during these formative years. The city stands Texas-tall. Consider the ongoing renovation of McKinney’s historic downtown and residential districts, the increased rate of new developments-both residential and commercial/industrial, an impressive listing of accessible educational alternatives and an enthusiastic show of support for its schools’ championship-level athletics and the cultural arts.

It’s obvious that McKinney is definitely going places while making the most of its staying power. And in spile of the power and pull of the glittering Metroplex to the south-or perhaps because of it-it’s said that the worst mistake McKinney could ever make would be to move. Not to worry. McKinney is the star of the state these days and the city expects an endlessly successful season due to popular demand.



PROGRESS



As growth along the North Dallas corridor accelerates, the stage is set for substantial residential and business expansion in McKinney. Ever mindful of McKinney’s identity, the city’s planners and developers are making sure that new construction is built with an eye for continuity. Mixed-use structures such as those on the 94-acre Heritage development off U.S. 75 at the U.S. 380 exit and the 150-acre Eldorado Park development off U.S. 75 at the Eldorado Parkway overpass, are being flavored with classic design elements complementary to those evident throughout McKinney’s historical downtown and residential districts.

With a projected growth rate of more than 13 percent in the next five years, McKinney is expected to experience outstanding new-home absorption as well. Because it lies at the apex of the active growth corridor north of Dallas, McKinney is accessible to the area’s new and dynamic employment centers, and yet removed from the congestion of the city.

The steady surge of growth in the manufacturing segment of McKinney life began in the early 19th-century days of cot-ion ginning. Today, a diverse industrial presence provides the economical strength that is making the outlook for future growth brighter than ever. Leading McKinney into the 21st century are Texas Instruments, Fisher Controls. Montgomery Elevator, Dynamco, Dimension Products Co., Hom-co, Home Interiors & Gifts, Carrol Shelby’s Original Texas Chili Co., Leightner Electronics, Control & Information Systems. Op-toswitch, Miles Homes, Optek, Primo Microphones. Quadrant Chemical Corp., Champion Industrial, Simpson Strong Tie Co., Shelby Advanced Automotive Technology, Turbo-Resins International, Specialty Food Division of Southland Corp., Food Source, Accurate Die Cutting and others.

There are numerous other reasons for the healthy manufacturing climate in McKin-ney, not the least of which is geographic location. The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, less than 40 minutes away, is directly accessible via Hwy. 121. Another advantage is a virtually inexhaustible work force within commuting range in the nine-county Metroplex. It all boils down to companies discovering McKinney’s eager work force, ample resources and the community attitude that “what’s good for business is good for McKinney.”

McKinney’s ideal location near three major highways-U.S. 75, Hwy. 121 and U.S. 380-makes the city’s airport one of the most economically attractive aspects of McKinney. The area surrounding the air-port is zoned only for industrial use. For instance, McKinney Industrial Park encompasses 900 acres of land in the southeast portion of the city, adjacent to the airport which currently serves both private and corporate air traffic. With a mile-long runway, the airport encompasses 160 acres, although the masterplan calls for an ultimate 359 acres. Thus far. the airport project is in excess of $15 million and well on its way to $50 million.

Officials predict the presence of airline traffic in the not-too-distant future, and it is fully expected thai someday the McKinney airport will service all of the airport demands north of Dallas’ LBJ freeway. The construction of Eldorado Parkway, a four-lane thoroughfare projected for six lanes, is proving beneficial to the development of southwest McKinney and will ultimately open up traffic flow from Frisco, through the Stonebridge Ranch and Eldorado developments, eastward to Industrial Blvd. leading directly to McKinney Municipal Airport.

Also making its presence known is a progressive medical community whose dedication to healthcare has long been a standing tradition in McKinney. Growing with the community, the medical facilities include two full-service medical centers, HCA Wysong Medical Center and AMI North Texas Medical Center, and a variety of general medicine and denial clinics.



LIFESTYLE



Coming home to McKinney-it’s an increasingly common occurence these days. Professionals with careers in the swirling metropolis below are looking for a home-base where they can come up for fresh air at the end of a stressful day of meetings, phone calls and fighting (he undertow of city traffic. McKinney has its share of natives, too. Since the year 1849. when the early settlers incorporated the city, many have grown to call McKinney “home.” The population of the entire county in 1850 was 1,950. Today, the population of McKinney alone is at 20,000 and counting.

McKinney’s housing choices hold something in store for all, with everything from the charm of yesteryear’s Victorian homes to newly built estate homes complete with country club amenities. An abundance of other housing options are available, including small frame collages with one-of-a-kind designs and distinctive, brick garden homes. An ample supply of apartments makes an important contribution to the community’s housing alternatives. Young families and first-time homebuyers are delighted to discover McKinney’s real estate affordability. Company executives and veteran homeowners are migrating in increasing numbers to the luxury of such major developments as Eldorado, Stonebridge Ranch and Cross “F” Ranch. The development of the high-end properties will continue to unfold during the next several years. with several of these countryside settings coming complete with at least one golf course. Some predict the day will come when McKinney becomes a virtual golfing “capital” of sorts. Developers are also making the most of McKinney’s rolling hills and majestic trees, offering lake views and greenbelts that most city dwellers can only dream about.

McKinney entices the community to enjoy its extensive parks and openspaced recreation areas with facilities that include hike/bike trails, tennis courts and picnic areas, as well as lighted baseball, softball and soccer fields. A 20-minute drive from Lake Lavon and Lake Lewisville, McKinney is within an hour’s drive from a number of other small to large lakes including Lake Texoma.

At the edge of McKinney, the 266-acre Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary gives insight into wildlife and native vegetation. McKinney’s ideal climate allows nature courses, special events and tranquil nature paths to be open year round. Another “natural” delight is the Bolin Oil Co. Wildlife Exhibit, an indoor collection of more than 100 animals from the African jungles and North American wilderness.

More recreational activities abound in the picturesque Wilson Creek Greenbelt, a beautifully lush area that bisects the city. A focal point of the Greenbelt is Towne Lake, a favorite attraction for paddle boating and Fishing. There is also the new McKirmey Community Center where the city’s residents can enjoy a full gymnasium, game room, lounge, racquetball courts and four activity rooms. Planned Greenbelt facilities include a tennis complex and equestrian center.

More and more people are watching their dreams come true in McKinney. An ideal place to raise a family, McKinney offers the perfect balance of lifestyle elements that so many are searching for. In addition to its established neighborhoods, McKinney’s schools are a vital part of its small-town atmosphere, The McKinney Independent School District offers excellent primary and secondary education and boasts a new $16 million senior high school, housing seven acres of climate-controlled learning area plus a natatorium that is shared with McKinney’s citizens during after-school hours.

The schools encourage diversity and provide an unequaled community of learning with a 22-to-l student/teacher ratio. Students are provided the encouragement and inspiration to succeed whether they are involved in classes for the gifted and talented or in remedial programs. Widespread opportunities such as sequential computer programs and tutorial programs, often only associated with larger school systems, are also available. Complementing the academic programs are diversified athletic activities, comprehensive vocational and technical programs and extensive adult community education offerings.

The recent addition of Collin County Community College provides McKinney residents, as well as the entire county, with exciting lifetime educational opportunities. Less than an hour away are North Texas State University. East Texas State University, Southern Methodist University, Austin College and many other smaller four-year colleges and universities.



PERSONALITY



Complementing the offerings of the conventional educational venues, a particular influx of artisans is spawning a heightened awareness, appreciation and involvement in the fine arts as well as in the cultural arts and crafts that were perhaps the mainstay of many of McKinney’s early settlers. With so much shopping and dining activity already revolving round the downtown historic district, older buildings on the town square and along its adjoining streets make for ideal studio/gallery settings. The old Collin County Courthouse also serves as a historical backdrop for McKinney’s annual Art Fes-tival On The Square which takes place each fall.

The National Register of Historic Places lists two residential and one. commercial historic district along with fifty individually designated historic sites in McKinney. Included in this memorable setting is the Old Post Office Museum which provides exciting tales of the early Texas settlers. Additional annual attractions are the spring May Fair at historic Chestnut Square and the Christ-mas Tour of Homes. And don’t miss the downtown McKinney Historic Walking Tour-a history buffs delight that can be enjoyed between shopping stops!

McKinney’s blending of turn-of-the-cen-tury charm with innovative preparation for growth makes it a distinctive community. Its Central Business District has been economically revitalized within the context of historic preservation and was recently named the outstanding “Main Street” in the state of Texas.

The downtown district is perhaps most popular lor its outlet shops, offering big savings to shoppers hunting for everything from furniture to skiwear to infant wear and adult fashions. Then there’s McKinney Trade Days which takes place just north of town on the third weekend of every month-another big attraction for north Texas bargain hunters. But when you throw in an art gallery here. a colorful weaving supply shop there, and a few antique shops in between, first-time visitors sometimes find it impossible to take in all of McKinney in a day. Not to mention the square’s delightful and diverse selection of dining, serving up everything from upscale American food to downhome cook in.’

But McKinney also “”sells something that’s intangible. It’s called fresh air and simplicity of life-the kind of feeling and fun that can only be had by experiencing McKinney first hand. It’s an illusive element you can’t quite put your finger on that makes McKinney so appealing-all the nostalgia mixed in with the new. Call it sentimental, romantic or maybe even “McKinney mania.” Better yet, just call McKinnev “home.”