On Tuesday night, all six Frisco City Council members voted unanimously to approve a special deal for billionaire developer Craig Hall that local taxpayers opposed.

Rather than revising zoning laws for everyone, this special deal gives Hall permission to build over 2,000 apartment units on his HALL Park property and hold an unlimited number of special events there. The deal also increases the height restrictions of buildings on certain areas of his property to 400 feet­ — taller than any other development in Frisco.

Over 20 nearby residents signed a petition to protest the special concessions given to Hall, objecting to how the changes would affect their neighborhood. “I am an apartment developer,” Frisco resident Howard Akin told the council Tuesday night.  “I specifically moved in there to avoid being around apartments,” he continued. “You’ve got to respect the wishes of the homeowners; those are who should come first.”

Another cornerstone of residents’ objections revolves around Hall’s presentation to them that, if this deal were passed, he would build a performing arts center at HALL Park. The problem, as residents previously told Texas Scorecard, is that what was presented to them was not presented to the City of Frisco.

“We are happily willing to donate a site for the performing arts center,” Hall said in response. “We worked very hard with neighbors,” he continued, further explaining his dealings with nearby homeowners. He then suggested amendments to reduce the square footage allowed to be built to 9.5 million square feet, not including garages, in order to address concerns about density. Hall indicated, though, that he would not be willing to renegotiate further with residents.

“We were just completely bewildered,” said resident and lawyer Charles Bundren regarding the discrepancy. “I know, and you know, and the citizens of Frisco know they will not be able to enforce anything unless there are specifics in this planned zoning exhibit — and there are not.”

“We also have to weigh the concerns and desires of our other partners that we represent,” said Mayor Jeff Cheney in response to the protest from taxpayers. “What keeps me up at night is the investments at HALL Park and is HALL Park going to be successful in 20 years.”

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.