THE STAR SHINES BRIGHT: Inside The Star District’s economic development strategy in Frisco


It’s a place for throwing a football around on a Saturday night, but it’s also the future site of the Academy of Country Music awards in May.

It’s where the Dallas Cowboys practice, but also where Frisco ISD hosts its student marching band showcase.

It’s attracted big-name brands like Comerica, McAfee and Fortune-100 organization TIAA, but it’s also where more local names like Mi Cocina and Monkee’s of Frisco have set up shop.

Since its inception in 2016, The Star District in Frisco has evolved right alongside the city of Frisco, shaping itself into a dining, office, retail and experience-focused force that caters to both a national and local consumer base.

The Star’s first tenant moved in a few years ago at a time when Frisco was evolving, too. As a result the strategy focused on watching that evolution and understanding what kinds of needs it would bring, said Amy Pratt, director of sales/real estate with the Dallas Cowboys.

Today, the district includes a mix of restaurant and retail businesses, as well as a combination of national and more local brands. Comerica is bringing a business and innovation hub to the district, and McAfee recently announced a regional headquarters expansion at The Star.

Pratt said part of the attraction for those bigger businesses is location — Frisco is growing and has high marks for safety and quality of life. But, she said, it also goes back to partnerships and how business is done at The Star — it’s not about finding a tenant, she said. It’s about finding a partner.

“We want them to be part of the family and feel like it,” she said. “I mean, if you're living at 12 Cowboy Way, which is our residential tower, or you're a restaurant tenant or you're an employee of TIAA, we want you to feel like you're part of the Cowboys and part of the Jones family and understand that culture. And so I think people get excited about that and understand that. I mean, you can live, work and play all within that area.”

There are also local ties to the offerings at the district. Pratt mentions Lombardi Cucina Italiana, which opened in The Star as a celebration of the 45-year restaurateur career of Alberto Lombardi. She also mentions fan favorite Mi Cocina and The Glen, a restaurant product of the Frisco-based Simms Hospitality Group.

Part of the strategy comes down to looking at the wants and needs for the area, Pratt said. That involves paying attention to who’s coming into the market, getting data from local hotels and working with the Frisco Economic Development Corporation and Frisco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, she said.

In the past year, the Star District has opened eight new businesses, including Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, Tricky Fish and J. Hilburn Stylist Studio.

The district is looking ahead to adding more tenants, including two retail storefronts, before spring 2023. That includes Cards in a Box — an “all-inclusive card collecting experience” — and King Ranch Saddle Shop.

“I think what one of our goals has been is really to make sure we're continuing to keep a mix between retail and restaurant,” Pratt said, adding that there’s been more of a hyper focus on retail.

The Star District’s website also shows two restaurants coming soon, including La Parisienne French Bistro and Sidecar Social.

With just a couple of places left to fill, Pratt said there’s no rush to fill them quickly.

“We want to make sure they're the right tenant,” Pratt said. “So whether it be retail or an experience, we want to make sure that they're the right fit in here and not just put somebody in there just to fill the space.”

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