An Analysis of the Committee Highland House Petition, Graph by Graph

HH Aerial Preston CenterThe Crosland Group is proposing a 29-story apartment building near the core of Preston Center shopping center (right behind Hopdoddy Burger restaurant).  At present, a 3 story medical building sits on the Westchester Drive site. Current zoning allows for a 6-7 story building. The proposed building  would be higher than any building in Preston Center.

The Highland House is proposed to be only 30 feet taller than Sherry Lane Place and 40 feet taller than Sterling Plaza, both located directly across Douglas Ave on Sherry Lane and is under the Residential Proximity Slope from all four sides.  Current zoning allows for a 10 or 11 story building (120 feet). Also, Preston Towers is 29 stories tall.

 The addition of an approximate 245 unit apartment and the ensuing 500 tenants, 500 cars, apartment staff, deliveries, service providers, tenant’s staff and visitors would significantly add additional traffic to the already congested area.  Though the apartment is advertised as a residence for “empty nesters”, it would attract families because children residing in Highland House would be eligible to attend HPISD schools.

According to Dr. Dawson Orr, HPISD Superintendent,  a mere 5% of the new  student growth of 270 new kiddos from January 2010 to January 2011 has been from apartment dwellers. The Shelton has put 24 kiddos into the district, that’s it.  79 percent of the growth in enrollment has come from families selling single family homes to other families with more children.  Perhaps we should stop the construction and sale of single family homes, too? From his report:

  • 213 of the students lived in single-family residences, accounting for 79 percent of the growth.
  • 43 of the students lived in condominiums/townhomes, accounting for 16 percent of the growth.
  • 14 of the students lived in apartments, accounting for 5 percent of the growth

Preston Center is already one of the most congested areas of Dallas. It is near impossible to park during lunch hours and it is going to get worse.  Ground has been broken for a new 7 story high rise office building near Douglas on Weldon Howell Parkway, not far from the proposed “Highland House”.  The new office building will have 200,000 sq ft, statistically adding a potential 1,136 employees and cars into the Center along with deliveries, service providers, salesmen and visitors.

The developer is requiring off street loading and unloading in the zoning request in order to improve traffic flow in Preston Center. Many of the tenants will be traveling and in residence part time. And the developer has also increased the required parking in the zoning request from 1.75 to 2.0 per unit and, with required valet parking, will far exceed even that requirement.  This building will actually IMPROVE the parking issues in Preston Center.

The developers of the Highland House contend the apartment building will generate less traffic than the current medical building. The Crosland Group cites statistics that a medical building of the size located at 8215 Westchester generates on average 1666 visitors on a daily basis. An actual count of visitors was taken on Thursday, April 17. Between the hours of 7:45 am and 4:30 pm the building had a total of 172 visitors. Clearly, the traffic generated with a 29 story apartment would exceed 172 visitors each day, therefore increasing traffic and congestion in the area.

Not sure how one “count visitors” in a traffic count, but what this tells me is that a lot of people going to the Doctors Building are parking all over Preston Center and not just in the building’s garage, which has scant parking if I recall from my days of marriage counseling there..  There are more than 80 people just working in the building, which is 160 trips per day if no one leaves to go home for lunch, or whatever.  Stopping before everyone leaves for the day seems funny, too.

During peak hours of traffic, many drivers seek alternate routes to avoid long delays. These alternate routes are through nearby neighborhoods.  Increased and higher speed traffic through area neighborhoods pose a danger to bikers, joggers, walkers and especially children and elderly living along these streets.

Anyone who speeds in the Park Cities is a fool – you get caught. Most of the tenants, if older, retirees or baby boomers, won’t be driving during peak traffic hours. Professionals may be in the traffic, though they tend to work longer hours. The township can look into possibly closing off streets or adding speedbumps? The fact is, more people are moving to Dallas, we are inviting them to come, so our streets are going to be more crowded. According to the actual Traffic Impact Study filed with the City of Dallas (which actually measures where people go), none of the traffic from the Doctors Building reaches single family neighborhoods.  It all migrates to Preston Road, Northwest Highway and the Tollway and moves through the commercial district which surrounds the site. Personally, I almost never cut through Park Cities streets — they are too narrow.

Lastly, privacy is a concern for homeowners living in close proximity to any high rise building.  Tenants could look out of their windows into the back yards of nearby residents.

OK, this is ridiculous. Got the same argument from my *&%# neighbor when we built our house with a 40 foot side setback. Come on folks. This project is at the dead center of Preston Center. They are too far away to see what’s going on in your backyard. Besides, the NAR is watching us all anyhow!

Conclusion

To avoid further congetion to adjacent thoroughfares and neighborhood streets, to protect the privacy and home values of nearby residential properties and to decrease the danger to pedestrians and children, we ask that the Crosland Group’s request to re-zone 8215 Westchester Drive be denied.  Any new construction should be built to current building code.

If this is your wish and you believe what was written above, here is what you are going to get:  a 10 story office building which produces more traffic at the worst times, has people parking where they shouldn’t to avoid parking fees, cars that ARE in the garage visible to the street,  half as much in real estate taxes, more clogging of the streets of Preston Center with trucks loading supplies for the offices and creating traffic at 15 minute intervals all day long as patients, clients and vendors come and go. Another faceless 10 story building in Preston Center.  Now THAT’S progress! Where will people LIVE in Preston Center? Good question.

Please express your concerns to the following:

Dallas Councilwoman Jennifer Gates – 214.670.3816

jennifer.gates@dallascityhall.com

CPC Dist. 13 Margot Murphy – 214.670.3086

margotmurphy13@gmail.com

 

 

 

4 Comment

  • Right away I am going away to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming again to read more news.

  • I read Orr’s report and wonder why they only use the Shelton as an example. There are other high rise bldg’s with HPISD students. For example, how many kids live at condo at Lomo Alto & Fairway. Seems silly for his report to extrapoliate the results of a single building. Maybe the developers cherry picked the Shelton for their case. Any good study should use as large a sample size as possible and this study has a sample size of 1.

    Also, I would like to know how many students live in “single family homes” that are really apartments. This seems like semantics to me. If you build a dense four story building and call it a single family home vs. calling it apartment. I bet all the mid-rise condos around the high school, middle school, and now popping up on Normandy & Lomo Alto are categorized as single family home. To me this is misleading. As we build more dense dwellings it will put more kids into area….simple as that. One home on lot has less chance of adding kids than 10 units….I mean homes on a lot.
    Thanks

  • I live in UP primarily for the quality of the school system, response time and quality of the police & fires services, and the convenience of its central location. My home is my most valuable asset.

    The HPISD has a well publicized capacity issue that the districts consultants have initially estimated will cost $160M and several years to address. The entire Tollway/Northwest Highway area is already a significant traffic bottleneck.

    A 245 unit residential high rise development will permanently add to these existing problems.

    I am against this development. The current infrastructure of the community cannot support it. Quality of life will be negatively impacted.