In 1978, H. Ross Perot completed the acquisition of 2,665 acres in North Plano, with the idea of creating a first-class corporate headquarters park. Eight years later, Frito Lay became the first company to build its headquarters in Legacy. Then in 1987, J.C. Penney decided to relocate its corporate headquarters from New York to Texas. It purchased 429 acres and completed its 1.9 million-square-foot building in 1992.
During the next several years, Electronic Data Systems developed more than 3 million square feet of space to complete its sprawling campus, including the award-winning 1.6 million square foot building facing Parkwood Boulevard. These signature projects established Legacy as a premier business park. However, a lot of work needed to be done in order for Legacy to become the world-class community it is today.
In 1993, Marilyn Kasko was tasked with directing and managing the park. She quickly realized that a comprehensive vision had to be developed and clearly communicated; she also recognized the need for amenities and services to attract and retain tenants.
Her big decision was: Should amenities be distributed throughout the park, or should they be centralized, creating a sense of place within Legacy?
After touring several mixed-use parks around the country and meeting with urban planner Andre Duany, she decided that the “live, work, play” urban model was perfect. Once the plan for the 150-acre Legacy Town Center was developed by Duany and approved by EDS and the City of Plano, Kasko assembled a team of developers, planners, engineers, and support staff. She brought a passion to the project, and was looking for that same characteristic in the people she hired.
Kasko knew the retail developer would hold the key to the success of Legacy Town Center. She interviewed several large national developers, but felt Legacy would be a small fish in their “big pond” portfolios. Instead, she turned to Fehmi Karahan. Along with his work ethic, quality standards, and drive for perfection, Karahan brought an international perspective to the plan, having grown up in Istanbul. He raised the bar on the vision for the Town Center. The 3-acre Bishop Park is an example of this. Originally planned as a grass-only green space, Karahan was insistent that the park needed to have a large water feature—and he was right. Bishop Park was built with the striking water feature—and Legacy Town Center was born.
Today, about 45,000 people live and work in Legacy. It’s home to more than 30 major employers, 35 restaurants, 50 retail stores, 600 hotel rooms, and 3,300 residential homes. As Perot’s grand development plan of many years ago nears its full build-out, he must be very proud of the positive impact it has had on the economy and quality of life for thousands of Texans. Legacy is truly another unique Texas success story.
Greg Biggs is an executive managing director and principal at Cassidy Turley, where he helps lead the firm’s tenant rep group in Texas. Contact him at email@example.com.