By Lisa Ferguson
According to Anna Mayor Nate Pike, an increasing number of eyes will be focused on the burgeoning burg during 2020.
“You can really tell just with the culture of the city … and what is taking shape in our community, people are looking at Anna - new residents, developers – (and) just the overall growth that you are seeing and we are all experiencing here in our community,” he said to the crowd in attendance Tuesday at the State of the City address.
Prior to his speech, Pike told the Anna-Melissa Tribune that he planned to discuss the city’s 2019 successes as well as what is to come.
“The high points are clearly the development,” he said. “We’ve really arrived on the map from the state perspective and there’s a lot of attention, of course, because of the growth in Collin County. But there’s a lot of interest for development in our community, which brings a whole new set of challenges, but a lot of optimistic opportunities for the community overall.”
During Pike’s address at Anna High School, which was delivered as part of the Anna City Council meeting, he discussed goals for the city.
These include continuing to grow Anna’s economy while creating a sustainable community through planned and managed growth.
Not only should the city be a great place to live, he said, but Anna’s city staffers should be highly trained and professional.
Nearly a year ago, the city created a strategic plan, which staff members have been working to execute.
Growing the economy of Anna is the top goal of that plan, Pike said, before sharing details about several high-profile businesses openings that are set to take place in coming months.
“This is why everybody is here, is actually to hear this,” he joked before announcing that Starbucks is expected to open in early March near the intersection of FM 455 and U.S. Highway 75.
The coffee shop will likely be followed in early April by a Chick-fil-A restaurant that is under construction in the same parking lot outside of Walmart. A few hundred yards away, a Whataburger restaurant will likely open its doors sometime this summer.
“These will not only provide our neighbors additional eating options but will generate sales tax revenue not seen before in the city,” Pike said.
Construction is underway on Texoma Medical Center’s ER at Anna, a freestanding emergency room located north of FM 455 and U.S. Highway 75. On the west side of the highway, a 23,000-square foot ambulatory day surgery center is being built.
Such facilities “will bring some of the best medical specialists in the region right here to Anna,” as well as prompt development nearby, Pike said.
Pike said additional businesses are close to signing letters of intent to set up shop in the city, however he declined to reveal their names. “I can tell you it’s very exciting news on some of the things that we’re seeing such as retail and other areas.”
During 2019, building permits were issued for 628 single-family residences. Pike said the city is on track this year to exceed that number.
Commercial development is also on the rise. Currently, there is 80,000 square feet of commercial space under construction in Anna, he said.
“As our economy continues to grow, more and more people will continue to move to Anna,” he explained. “We welcome more neighbors but are committed to making sure that the future growth is managed and does not impede on the quality of life that so many currently enjoy here in Anna.”
Pike said the city is working closely with TxDOT to increase the number of traffic signals along Highway 5 at key intersections.
Signals are scheduled to be added at Fourth Street as well as Hackberry Drive. City staff has asked TxDOT to conduct studies and determine whether there is also a need for signals at Finley Boulevard, Rosamond Parkway and at County Roads 373 and 1106.
On the public safety front, Pike said the Anna Police Department added two full-time officers and a part-time administrative staffer within the past year.
Meanwhile, the Anna Fire Department celebrated its eighth decade of service to the city last year. In 2020, it plans to add two additional firefighters and is working to secure federal grant funds that could help the department hire nine more staffers.