In the midst of all the growth and construction throughout Frisco, it’s important we don’t forget about our historic downtown area. Frisco has gotten so big so fast, some people don’t even know a historic downtown exists. Given the growing population of transplants, domestic and international, coming to the area, I often find myself recommending Lillian Welch boutique and The Depot to give people another view of life in Frisco.
The historic area runs along Main Street from Preston Road to the west where the silos and railway tracks come together. This section of Main Street has its own organization known as the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association.
Established in the early 90’s with the goal of building partnerships and programs for local downtown merchants, in 2008, it expanded its membership beyond to include Toyota Stadium, Frisco Square, and the rest of Main Street that runs to the Dallas North Tollway.
I had a chance to catch a coffee with the President of the Frisco Downton Merchants Association, Chris Johnson, to discuss his vision, plans, and of course, a little history.
Originally from Indiana, Chris has been in Frisco since 1995 when his career brought him to North Texas. After many years in the corporate world, he learned that his entrepreneurial spirit and tolerance for risk could be put to better use and acquired Style Publishing which produces the well-known Frisco Style magazine. As Frisco Style celebrates 21 years in business, it distributes 69,000 free copies each month to homes in Frisco, Little Elm, Prosper and McKinney
In addition, Chris divides his time contributing to various organizations around the city including the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Frisco, Frisco Arts Advisory Board, and serves as the Executive Director of Life Talk Resource Centre. Past areas of service include being a founding Board Member of Legacy Christian Academy and a board member of both the Frisco Association for the Arts and the Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Showing an admirable passion for Downtown Frisco and respect for its history and culture, he believes the historic area can and must flourish. Owning a business in the area means he has a vested interest in seeing it succeed. As President of the DMA, his entrepreneurial spirit welcomes the opportunity to inject ideas, plans, and change for the historic area to help it grow alongside the more modern developments in Frisco.
Not fazed by challenges of any sort, he is motivated by the presentation of a challenge.
If someone presents me with a problem or issue, I see it as a massive opportunity to work around or consider options,” Chris explains. “Don’t tell me something just cannot be fixed or resolved. There is always a way through or a way of making it work.”
Looking into 2016, Chris is working with current DMA members to set goals and create a strategy that will support growth and culture in Historic Downtown. Various projects are on the table including the development of an arch, or marquee signage, over Main Street. It will sit on the edges, acting as a distinctive gateway to the historic area.
They are also considering options to relocate the Farmers Market, which currently takes place next to Frisco Square, to the historic area, driving more activity to the stores lining Main Street. In tandem, plans are in the works to introduce more paved or pedestrian areas and crosswalks to attract foot traffic. Another early stage idea is to introduce a venue where weekly outdoor music events will take place.
Right now we are working on rebranding our messaging and goals so we are packaged to introduce ourselves and gain a platform with these investors. Attracting the right investor at the right time could be key. Why shouldn’t they consider investing in our area also? It’s a quaint place with a lot of potential.”
Upcoming Downtown Frisco events include the “StrEATs Festival” in April, “Sip, Shop, Rock n’Stroll,” and Halloween activities in the fall.
The Frisco DMA are a group of people with the passion to create a cultural destination and are always looking for new ideas. They are dedicated to making it work and welcome input from the Frisco public.
“Of course we want people to come to the events throughout the year and engage with us on any feedback and improvements,” says Chris.
His ideas and plans are inspiring. Chris certainly has the energy and spirit to drive the team of business owners to establish Downtown Frisco as one of the leading cultural and historic centers for people of all ages in North Texas.
So why not take a diversion from the construction and high-rises gracing our local skies, and venture down old Main Street. Park the car and enjoy the various shops, restaurants and boutiques this area has to offer. It’s also worth taking a stroll one block north or south of the strip to admire the beautiful old houses with their inviting porches and picket fences.
Check out the new Downtown Frisco website for business listings and upcoming events.