FRISCO, Texas — A Universal Studios theme park planned for Frisco would attract up to 20,000 visitors a day and more than 1,100 vehicle trips an hour during peak times, but a traffic plan for the area can adequately accommodate the added congestion, according to an analysis by the city.
The proposed site east of the Dallas North Tollway and north of Panther Parkway “can be successfully incorporated into the surrounding roadway network,” according to a traffic impact analysis prepared for the city by engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates.
But neighbors in the area surrounding the park aren’t so sure.
Frisco City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission are scheduled to vote today on a zoning permit, a development agreement and potentially economic incentives for the controversial park.
Neighbors who live near the proposed site for the park have expressed a variety of concerns about the project, with traffic being chief among them.
Frisco residents will get another chance to speak in favor or against the park in a joint city council and P&Z meeting set for 5 p.m. today at George A. Purefoy Municipal Center, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd.
Universal Parks & Resorts, the theme park arm of entertainment giant NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, plans a new, family-focused theme park with rides, shows, eating establishments and a 300-room hotel.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS & FRISCO TRAFFIC
The traffic study analyzes the peak arrival times of employees and guests, as well as buses, trucks and service vehicles, to predict traffic patterns and necessary changes to the nearby roads.
The traffic analysis says the park is expected to attract 7,500 guests on an average day and 20,000 guests on peak days, such as holidays and summer vacation. The park’s operating hours would be from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At least 643 employees will work at the park, according to the report. Their shifts will be staggered and they will be mostly enter and exit the park through different avenues than park visitors in a way that minimizes the traffic impact, the study says.
The report offers a closer look at the project site, showing parking lots surrounding the theme park and a hotel at the center. Vehicles driven by people visiting the park will flow into the parking lots from a main access point behind the park on Fields Parkway.
UNIVERSAL'S APPROACH IN FRISCO
The park and themed hotel will be based on Universal characters and stories.
Universal Parks & Resorts is “carefully crafting the design of the park to serve the surrounding community,” according to its website. Its plans call for creating an entrance off the Dallas North Tollway, directing traffic away from existing development and including natural sound barriers.
“In all our parks around the world, we strive to be a good neighbor and carefully craft the design of the park to serve the surrounding area,” the website says.
“According to a traffic comparison done by the city, the proposed park will generate less traffic than other developments that could be built on the property, like retail, office, or multi-family’” Universal’s website says. “It will generate less weekday traffic than H-E-B, Stonebriar Centre and Collin College.”
The park will have lush, green landscaping and feature immersive themed lands designed to bring life to Universal’s characters and stories in a way that appeals to young theme park goers.
It will be designed specifically for families with young children, with rides, interactive shows, character meet-and-greets, unique merchandise and food and beverage venues, according to Universal.
Frisco was selected for the park because the DFW area is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country and it is centrally located, allowing Universal to reach a new part of the country.
“The city of Frisco has also had tremendous success attracting businesses to the area and is a great place to raise a family, making it a natural fit for this new concept,” Universal's website says.
Universal owns 97 acres of land for the planned development and the park will occupy roughly a third of that space initially. The size leaves plenty of room to build a park, hotel, parking areas, and “a thoughtful exit and entrance plan” with room for possible expansion, Universal’s website says.
The Universal Studios regional park in Frisco will differ from the company’s bigger parks in Florida and California in terms of its size, where it’s expected to cover about a quarter of the area that the Orlando park covers, and its target audience, with the focus in Frisco catering to kids and family-friendly rides and attractions.
The theme park, if it’s built, will be part of the 2,500-acre-plus Fields development, which flanks the Dallas North Tollway and includes the PGA of America headquarters and the $520 million OmniPGA Frisco Hotel and Resort.
The traffic study bases its analysis on a 600-room hotel, instead of the 300-room one that Universal has announced, for “conservatively-high” traffic counts, according to the report.
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