Universal wants to build a brand-new theme park resort in the Lone Star State, and finally, residents in the North Texas city of Frisco have decided what they want Universal to do.
In January, when Universal Studios announced plans to construct an exciting new theme park resort in North Texas, it sounded like some of the best news of the day (especially for this Bluebonnet lover). But not so with many Frisco-ians (is that what you call them?) who fear that such an addition to their town could terrorize residents with increased noise from traffic and pulverize their property values. In fact, contrary to the usual “Texas friendly” approach, many Frisco residents skipped the “Howdy” and “Bless your heart” and went right to the “No thanks, y’all.”
On Tuesday evening, during separate votes, both the Frisco City Council and the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission approved the proposal to grant Universal Parks and Resorts the permit necessary for the theme park giant to build a new resort in the city. The council voted 4-2 with one abstention, and the Zoning Commission’s vote was unanimous.
The final vote had been postponed two different times, following outrage by several Frisco residents over Universal’s plans. During town hall-style meetings, some residents voiced concerns over increases in crime, traffic, and lower property values as a result of Universal’s new park being built in the city. There were even concerns that a casino would eventually open on Universal’s property.
“The public really influenced this project, probably more than any case I’ve worked on in 15 years,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said.
During the last meeting, it was announced that a vote would be taken on March 7, and that vote would determine whether Universal would be awarded a permit to begin construction of the new theme park resort in Frisco. During the Tuesday evening meeting, proponents of the park did all they could to persuade residents who were still opposed to Universal’s new park and hotel. Some city staff members even shared presentations that showed potential economic benefits the construction could have in Frisco, per Dallas-area KERA.
Assistant City Manager Ben Brezina said that Universal’s new theme park is estimated to bring in an annual sales tax revenue of about $3 million for the city.
“That goes to pay for all the city services we all enjoy,” Brezina explained.
But the green light from the City Council and the Zoning Commission doesn’t mean all of Frisco’s residents are on board with the decision. Many opponents live in the Cobb Hill community of Frisco, near where the new park will be built, and they have huge concerns about traffic congestion.
“The people of Frisco are being exploited for money,” said resident John Pavle. “This is not going to make Frisco better.”
But Joel Fitts, transportation planning manager for Frisco, said traffic from people visiting the new park won’t have the same impact as traffic that is often generated with other types of developments. He says that the resort is projected to have fewer than 8,000 visitors Monday through Friday, and compared that number to approximately 28,000 workers each day at an office park.
According to City of Frisco staff members, Universal’s new park will only operate on about 30 acres of the 97 acres the company has purchased, making it a quarter of the size of Univeral’s parks in Orlando. Also, Frisco’s new park would see normal operating hours of 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on holidays and for those with annual passes. Parking will also be available to visitors on site.