Overwhelming Support for New Development Behind the Pink Wall: Transwestern Proposal a Proposal No More

TranswesternNew Transwestern rendering Preston Rd

In a shockingly quick event at Dallas City Hall today, perhaps because of all the time spent focusing on a $10.37 minimum wage for city contract workers, the Transwestern project on the northeast corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road was approved by all City Council members but one: Phillip Kingston. I’m not sure if it was the Council member attached to the lone dissention from the Planning Commission’s September approval. I suppose I could look it up but, eh, it doesn’t really matter, does it? The deal is done.

(Editor’s note: Indeed, it was Dallas Plan Commissioner Paul Ridley, Phillip’s appointee, who was the lone dissenter back in September. Was Kingston standing by his man?)

City Council chambers were packed with a busload of supporters while the opposition seemed to consist of just three. They were the last holdouts so much ink has been spend on before. The arguments again come down to the familiar refrain of false claims of traffic, density and the ever-present undercurrent of desired stagnation.

In the end, the variation that was approved was so minor – a single story on part of the development – I doubt the City Council deliberated long.

When will construction begin? Early 2016 is the likely start date.

It’s funny to me as I read almost daily of US cities (and many international ones) being massively behind in residential construction. The global recession withered construction for so long that municipalities are scrambling to catch up. After all, people didn’t stop aging and wanting to start their own homestead sans Mom and Dad, just because the world was brought to its financial knees.

I was in London last week and read about the need for 320,000 housing units to be built annually to catch up from the recession.  However just 115,000 a year have been built.  Even tiny Hawaii stated today that they will need an additional 17,000 rental dwellings beyond those already planned before 2020. Dallas is no different.

War-Weary Winners Returning Home

War-Weary Winners Returning Home

Projects like Transwestern will not put much of a dent in this need, but as the cliché goes, every little bit helps. And where better to increase density but a location that already has the infrastructure needed and is already mildly dense? Certainly experts would say that in a perfect world sprawling cities like Dallas should erect a fence to stop expanding outwards into unsustainable exurban developments. Instead, adding density to more centralized city areas is the smart move for long-term viability. The problem is that some just don’t get it. (Although some of them “get it” but “want it” anywhere but nearby.)

But many do. The City of Dallas sent out surveys to homeowners within 500-feet of the (now happening) proposed development. Of the 242 surveys sent, 165 were returned and of those 96-percent were in favor of the development with just seven dissents. Councilman Lee Kleinman (covering for the recused Jennifer Staubach Gates) said that he also tabulated independent emails and other communications sent to his office and again, the overwhelming majority were in favor of the development.

It’s funny, I reported that the Preston Center Task Force neighborhood meetings produced many ideas for a walkable and more livable Preston Center. The only way that’s going to ever be successful is if there is the density to support it.

You know, I’ve got some skepticism about that too.

After the bus dropped supporters off, I spoke briefly with one who lives at another Pink Wall property that I’ve written about (The Diplomat). Their attempts to sell their property to developers caught my pen. I spoke plainly (‘natch!) that I would be in favor of redeveloping their parcel as long as it was done responsibility. She agreed and said that responsible redevelopment is what they wanted, too. My only sadness is that The Diplomat is one of the only buildings I think is actually architecturally interesting and representative of its era.

That and of course, the imperial Imperial House.

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