FAQ

I see a few searches come through pretty regularly so this page is dedicated to answering common general questions about the square.  I may not know the whole answer, so please feel free to leave a comment to help provide more info for folks with questions.

1.  Is there a listing of retail spaces available in downtown McKinney?

Yes.  The Main Street office maintains a list on their site:

http://www3.mckinneytexas.org/www/mainstreet.aspx?id=3982

I’ve also had incredible luck finding out about buildings (and businesses) for sale or lease on LoopNet.  Follow the link and find a business downtown. Click on it and, when you scroll down, you’ll see thumbnails for all the other downtown properties.

http://www.loopnet.com/Texas/McKinney-Commercial-Real-Estate/

2.  Who serves breakfast or brunch on the weekends?

At this point, just about everybody.

3.  Which shops are open/closed on Sunday?

This one is a moving target.  Some of the shops have winter & summer hours and some can decide to open up on a moments notice when they would normally have been closed.

4. Who offers birthday parties for kids?

Made of Sugar & Spice Girlie Girl Parties is the place for little girl parties. That’s what the do.  It’s their specialty.

Main Street Magic and Fun Company has a dedicated birthday space upstairs that is just killer.  They’ve got a little stage set up where the birthday boy or girl can wow their friends.  I think that they go through some basic moves (sort of a Magic 101 lite) first.  It’s a really neat space that you wouldn’t even know was there.  Go in and ask and they’ll give you a tour.

Walls of Clay is a great idea for an active party for girls or boys and you don’t have to worry about party favors.  They have packages as low as $12 a person and the kids even come home with a coupon for their next visit.

The Art House of McKinney also offers birthday parties for the artistically inclined. They have a great person in charge of birthdays (Magda) and there are tons of options for the kids to do.  She even has done some classes that involve baking bread.

5. Where can I take pictures downtown? Where are the best places to take pictures downtown?

You can take pictures anywhere outside and a lot of people do. The green door that you see in a lot of pictures that says 216 Virginia is actually in the alley between Aparicio’s and My Favorite Room.  My Favorite Room has put up a beautiful mural in that alley and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it start showing up in photos.

The second most popular spot is on the circular staircase outside The Book Gallery on Tennessee Street.  It’s a black metal spiral staircase and I’m not sure where it leads to.  It is a fantastic backdrop.

Here are some other suggestions for unique settings:

    • Mitchell Park on the west side of downtown has a beautiful fountain, very photogenic, and if you can get your angles right, you’ll have the houses on the edge of the Historic District in your shot.
    • Central Park – a little gazebo next to the Heard-Craig. I don’t think many people know about this.  Again, you’ll have a beautiful old Victorian in the background, depending on your angles and focus
    • Go a little off of the square and check out Finch Park.  There’s a beautiful old pavilion there, lots of shade trees, a creek, historic plaques, and bridges with white wooden rails.
    • Check out the alleys.  We have some beautiful alleyways.  The one that is actually Wood Street (it just looks like an alley) pops up in photos a lot.  There is a walkway spanning the alley connecting the two buildings on either side that is interesting.
    • Much prettier but virtually unknown is the alleyway between Tennessee and Chestnut Street.  The walls are entirely covered with ivy.
    • Look for coal shutes.  We have a lot of them down here.

Cross over McDonald and check out the area around the Historic Flour Mill. You can’t take commercial shots at the Flour Mill (the resident photographers reserve the right) but there are lots of interesting shots to be taken in that area.

I know that the Flour mill prohibits commercial photography but I don’t know about bloggers. Definitely contact the owner first. I’ve been a little cautious about it and have ony ever included one picture of the building itself on the blog.

As far as taking pictures inside a business, some love it, some prohibit it:

Loves bloggers – Diggin’ It, The Sample Shop, Canine Cookie Company, My Favorite Room

Absolutely no pictures allowed – Arabella’s

 Even if they love bloggers, be polite and ask first. If you know the policies of more shops, please leave a comment!

6.  Where can I go to catch the green McKinney trolley car?

I think it “lives” over by Chestnut Square and it depends on when you are wanting to catch it.  Chestnut Square has trolley tours of the Historic District on certain Saturdays and the trolley leaves from Chestnut Square for those tours.  I have seen the trolley occasionally parked other places and when I asked I was told that the trolley can be leased/rented.  (The world changes every day so I don’t know if that is still the case.  That is just the last I’ve heard.)  I’ve been on the trolley tour for the N. Historic District and it is very  good.  It’s about an hour and a half long, maybe a little less, and is packed with tidbits about the houses.

7.  My husband and I want to buy an old house in the downtown historic area of McKinney, TX. Any suggestions?

Yes, tons.  You don’t have to be committed to an old house to buy into the Historic District. Jered Custom Homes, The British Builder and The Bungalow Company all build brand new homes in the district that “fit” with the neighborhood.  If you are concerned about restrictions on a historic home or the problems associated with replacement parts, a new home built to look old is a great way to go.

These older homes, particularly the registered ones, are a labor of love.  They will become a member of your family.  It is not a casual arrangement.  Be sure to get a real estate agent that specializes in historic homes.  There are things you will need to know about “how they built them back then”.

8. Can I get to downtown McKinney on DART?

Not yet.  DART currently ends at Parker Road in Plano.  There has been talk about McKinney adding commuter shuttle service to shuttle McKinney residents to DART but that’s really not going to address the issue of getting shoppers up from DART to here.

There’s a Town Center Study plan (see the City of McKinney’s Planning Department) and the drawings show a part of the plan having a “transit village” on Highway 5 across from the square on Louisiana Street.  I never have been able to get anyone to tell me if that is really a plan or just wishful thinking.  I think that location would probably be one of the easiest, all things considered, since a rail line coming north would have to have land to put down the rails and property values along 75 and, certainly, to the west of 75 would be prohibitive.

There’s also the issue that the City of Allen lies between McKinney and the current end of DART.  Unless there was some way to skirt around Allen, it seems that Allen taxpayers would have to agree to join the DART program first before McKinney would even have the option.

Currently, the only way to get to downtown McKinney is in a personal auto.  Keep your fingers crossed and I will too.  I would love to have access to the DART system.

9.  What is there to do for a ladies night out?

There are several really nice restaurants, a couple of wine bars and pubs.  Most of the shops are open from 10 to 5.  My suggestion for an absolutely killer ladies  night out is to time it to coincide with the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk or book an evening with Sip N Doodle (or both). Some shops stay open in the evening for Second Saturday and all of the galleries are open till usually 10 PM.  Many have receptions for the artists.  You could spend the day shopping and hit one of the many salons and then party the night away taking in the art walk, listening to live music and eating at the restaurants.  If you are from out of town, check out The Grand Hotel, The Tartan Thistle and The Bingham House for places to stay within walking distance of the square.  The Dowell House is close too but you would probably still want to drive up to the square from there. Be sure to check out the schedule at the McKinney Performing Arts Center for current shows too.

10. Does McKinney have a parade?

Well, yes, but that’s kind of a broad question. We don’t have just one big annual parade.  We have several different parades and, um, kinds of parades.  There are four that I should mention specifically.

The first is the Parade of Lights.  This is the biggest parade downtown.  The 2010 parade was about thirty minutes long.  There are quite a few floats covered with lights and lots and lots of local kids – tumblers, dancers, scouts … just about every organization you’d find kids in.

There is also a 4th of July parade that I hear is gaining in popularity.  I haven’t actually made it to this one but there are some videos on YouTube people have posted.

The Krewe of Barkus parade is my personal favorite.  Coinciding with Mardi Gras, it is sometime in the spring … whenever Easter falls.  The weather is completely unpredictable.  The weather in 2011 was wonderful. In 2010, I came home with my hands raw and red from extreme cold.  Whatever the weather, this is a great parade … for costumed dogs.  There are big dogs and little dogs and dogs inbetween.  Some are just dudded up, some haul small wagon floats.  Kids can enter to pull a wagon float too.

There is also a homecoming/marching band parade that I never hear about until it is too late. My fault, no one else’s. I just need to pay better attention.

There are also a lot of other events downtown besides parades – Oktoberfest, Scare on the Square, Dickens of a Christmas…  For these kinds of events (plus parades), it’s best to follow the city calendars.
The McKinney Main Street organizes a lot of the special events.
The City’s CVB maintains a fantastic calendar on their web page plus a phone app.
Sign up for the City’s newsletter for timely notification of events going on in the square and around McKinney.

3 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. Laura Bartlett

    Hi,
    I wanted to let you know about a comedy show that is, as McKinney Magazine says,
    “..more than a comedy act; it is a vital part of our city’s growing arts community and what makes McKinney unique by nature.” Texas Monthly says, “Don’t Miss it!”
    Thanks,
    Laura

    Reply
    • Beth

      You can email me at onthesquareblog@yahoo.com any time. This is my busiest part of the year because my day job rotates around state premium tax return compliance (for insurance companies) and I work on updating the software and reviewing prepared returns. I’ll have a lot more free time after March 1st. If you have something that directly impacts downtown (as in something to do, etc) I have offered in the past to cut and paste into a post but I can’t guarantee turnaround time. In general, I try to steer clear of anything potentially controversial. You might also consider Town Square Buzz, a community-driven online-only newspaper and social forum. They have a staff of full-time employees and “feet on the ground” in addition to a user interface that lets all the readers also be publishers.

      Reply

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