Best Neighborhood in D-FW?

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Best Neighborhood in D-FW: Stellar parks, commutes, schools … what’s not to like in Plano

Moving to Collin County, check out this story in The Dallas Morning News’ NeighborsGo by LAURIE FOX

Long before Plano neared full build-out status, city leaders set aside green spaces for what would become a premier park system.

Ann Fortenberry is sure glad they did.…-what-s-not-to-like-in-plano.ece

Fortenberry, Plano’s parks and recreation director, said it’s a struggle to retain and set aside more land as developers seek out what little remains of Plano’s open space. But, she said, Plano residents historically have supported parks in bond elections.

“Residents see parks as essential to their quality of life,” she said. “This is a value proposition for them.”

That commitment to parks is but one element that put Central Plano at the top of The Dallas Morning News’ list of the best neighborhoods in Dallas-Fort Worth.

For each census tract in Dallas, Collin, Denton and Rockwall counties, and parts of Tarrant County, The News ranked 11 features that make a community more livable. Scores indicated how far above or below average an area fell.

Those ratings were combined and weighted according to how important each feature was to residents in a News survey.…-what-s-not-to-like-in-plano.ece

Based on those results and data analysis by The News, Central Plano — largely between Preston Road and U.S. Highway 75 just south of State Highway 121 — is the best neighborhood in North Texas to call home.

Its low crime rates, ample housing, strong schools and pristine parks appealed to everyone from families to empty-nesters.

Add to that easy commutes to the many corporate campuses in Plano during the week and distinctive places like the mixed-use Legacy Town Center to visit on the weekends.

“People want to live in a beautiful home, put their kids in good schools, live close to the office and spend time outdoors in great parks,” said Sally Bane, executive director of Plano’s office of economic development.

With 81 parks and 70 miles of hard-surface trails, Plano offers plenty of places to get outside.

Central Plano is home to Ridgeview Ranch golf course and some of the city’s largest parks and trails. Russell Creek Park features athletic complexes in addition to a small lake and hike-and-bike trails. The Russell Creek Greenbelt Trail links the park to other green spaces. Downstream is Hoblitzelle Park, with its trail. The two parks total nearly 400 acres.

“We have a lot of hard-working people here, and they need an easy outlet not too far away,” Fortenberry said.

“The parks provide a sense of community and a gathering place.”

Another factor that propelled Central Plano into the winner’s circle was the strength of its schools. The academic heavy-hitter is served by both the Plano and Frisco school districts.

Frisco ISD, with 33 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, six high schools and four special-program schools, is one of the nation’s fastest-growing districts. But growth has not hindered its performance.

It dominated The Newslist of best neighborhoods for public schools: Six of the top 10 were in Frisco ISD.…-what-s-not-to-like-in-plano.ece

Anderson, Taylor, Borchardt and Riddle elementary schools and Fowler Middle School are inside Plano’s city limits but within Frisco ISD’s boundaries. There are also students who live in Plano but attend Vandeventer Middle School and Liberty High School in Frisco.

A continued force in Plano, particularly in its northwestern sector, is corporate growth. Not only do businesses help fuel the economy; they also provide jobs within a comfortable commute for Central Plano residents.

“What is driving some of the residential growth and interest in this area is the robust employment opportunities here,” Bane said. She listed Granite Park and Legacy Business Park as two popular locations for companies.

Several of the city’s largest employers, including Bank of America, Capital One, J.C. Penney, Ericsson and Frito-Lay, have made their corporate homes on sprawling campuses on the west side of town.

FedEx Office and Print Services recently announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to that area as well. And Toyota just announced that it is coming, too.

“Working close to where you live frees up that discretionary time to spend with your family or out in the community,” Bane said. “People really do want to have it all.”

Staff writer Daniel Lathrop contributed to this report.

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