Squandered Money, Part 2: Pink Wall Zone 4

Aerial-Preston-Center

Part One began with a look into the specifics of the latest round of data buttressing the Preston Center Area Plan by Kimley-Horn.  Of all the zones represented, Zones 1 and 4 are the two with the most potential. Part One was an overview of Zone 1 while this installment covers Zone 4 and some of the bedrock research that remains undone 16 months later.

Kimley-Horn: Zone 4 (Pink Wall)

Like Zone 1, the data presented on Zone 4 was frightening to many.  It supposes that every complex is rebuilt to maximum zoning potential (ignoring in-place deed restrictions). Highly, impossibly unlikely in the near-to-mid-term.  As one local developer pointed out in the last public meeting, the likelihood of many of the newest buildings being torn down and upsized to their full zoning potential was nil.  To add a single floor to a new building is economically ludicrous.

While Kimley-Horn stick to their goal of adding approximately 1,700 residential units from Preston Road to Hillcrest, that developer pegged the number at about 600.  Roughly one-third the Kimley-Horn number and again, over the space of many years.

Even with all that unrealistic residential, the ratio of residential in the zone moved from 93 to 94 percent. Big eff-ing deal, right?

In traffic quantities we see the actual impacts. What is currently 18,823 trips per day now adds 10,750-ish, totaling a pinch under 30,000 trips per day (again, likely taking over a decade to achieve).

Just like Zone 1, transportation doesn't move away from the car

Just like Zone 1, transportation doesn’t move away from the car

Transportation modes are just as unaffected as Preston Center’s.  Walking increases from 3.1 to 4.0 percent.  Public transit grew from 5.2 to 6.0 percent while automobile trips dropped from 91.7 to 90 percent.  In other words hard numbers of trips grow along with development but the methods of transportation don’t.  So much for the walkability goal.

My Analysis

Kimley-Horn should have delivered data based on the likelihood of development instead of only using on-paper potentials.  Cutting the hard data with common sense would have provided a more accurate picture of development options in Zone 4.  I’m sure there are calculations that can be applied that correlate building age against zoning potential to provide a likelihood of redevelopment.

Is it any wonder residents freaked at the possibility of building another 12 Athena-sized buildings in Zone 4?  Especially when considering the likelihood may be closer to four?

That unintended scare-mongering is a theme that’s run throughout Kimley-Horn’s deliverables because of their inability to apply common sense to hard data.  Yes, this “could” happen, but what’s the likelihood?

As someone who has been conducting research for nearly 25 years, I understand that data interpretation is the most important skill a researcher can have.  I never throw a wriggling fish on the table without suggesting recipes.

Just as I said with Preston Center development, part of the Kimley-Horn research should have involved the groundwork of polling the residents to understand their desires.  Questions would have covered not only general area redevelopment and associated timelines, but owners’ likelihood of seeking to redevelop their own parcels in the future.

Implementation Triggers

One of my largest faults with this planning is the complete lack of any research done on traffic optimization.  It was a guiding principle for the formation of the task force.  With no research to back-up any outcomes, the following are two slides that are so much spaghetti against the wall.

The bedrock data the task force plan SHOULD have been built upon

The bedrock data the task force plan SHOULD have been built upon

“Traffic Calming in Neighborhoods” sounds nice, but is it more than speed bumps?  Which streets would benefit most?

Sixteen months in and “Parking Management Plan for Preston Center,” “Garage improvements,” “Access Management Plan,” etc., etc., etc. are still on a wish list?  What have you been doing?  What did that $350,000 get us?

The continuing list of things the task force hasn't done yet

The continuing list of things the task force hasn’t done yet

Ditto the above list, 16 months and none of the research into these items has begun?  WTF!?  All of this seems to have been the original raison d’être of the task force and it’s still TBD? This is the bedrock on which a cogent proposal for development is built upon.

My Analysis

Farming out any research project assumes one thing: The people doing the farming out know what they want and that those hired know how to competently complete the work.  I’m going to be gracious and assume that the Task Force was, and probably remains, ignorant of what they require.  To assemble a task force without a single member understanding the research process likely doomed it to fail (along with it being full to the rafters with personal agendas).

But I’m also going to assume that in the face of an ignorant client, Kimley-Horn, theoretically having done this all before, should have done a much better job of guiding the task force in the right direction.

My only conclusion is that either Kimley-Horn were incapable of delivering or the task force was unwilling to listen. Or both.

As I look back on the beginnings of this project, my writings have shown glimmers of hope punctuated with overall disappointment.  For example, was spending money on a demographic research firm to find out Preston Hollow is old, white and rich the best use of money when the above list remains unanswered?

The Preston Center Area Plan is a blueprint to build. What it’s not is the blueprint to build smartly and effectively that it was meant to be.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

One Comment

  • As you have mentioned before, change to the behind the pink wall complexes will come in a hearse. Give that area ten more years and it will be really in bad shape. The cost to bring almost all the complexes up to good maintenance is more than owners will pay and so they do nothing. Just as east Dallas is experiencing tear downs of the older and decrepit properties, this will happen behind the pink wall or it will become kind of a gentrified ghetto in the midst of plenty. That wil bring out the NIMBYs who find them an eyesore. There’s much soffit and gutter rotting if you look closely. Many have the original 1950’s front and/or back lobbies. Pools that old need more and more upkeep. Bad roofs and decrepit car ports. Original and leaking Windows causing higher electric bills passed on in HOA fees as most have chiller systems for the entire property. All it takes is for the neighboring complex to look bad, and your complex loses sales value. But owners there, for the most part, are in coast mode and see no need to spend money. Some of this is natural, as we age we tend to worry about outlasting our savings.