Forget the plan the Preston Center Task Force is cooking up. Last night it was disclosed that owners of the Diplomat and Royal Orleans condominiums have voted unanimously to accept an offer to sell their complexes to a developer. The identity of the buyer and the development plans are unknown (by me).
Update: Wednesday afternoon, PHSNA sent a note to members saying they’d received denials from both complexes that a sale was imminent. Stay tuned.
Depending on the development details, I for one, welcome the move to bring new blood and new building to the area. Here’s hoping for an architecturally interesting building that’s not a typical Mediterranean riff with terra cotta colored stucco and a splash of stone – that, I will fight.
Apartments or condos? It’s 2016, so of course it will start out as apartments. But it’s up to neighbors to ensure quality construction so that the eventual condo conversion can be done with a quality product.
How did this happen?
The buildings reside in Planned Development District 15 (PD-15), which is not subject to typical city zoning nor any of the deed restrictions found on other parcels in Pink Wall territory. For this reason, it makes perfect sense that parcels in PD-15 would be among the first to go (along with The Laurel apartments currently under construction at Northwest Highway and Preston Road).
While this area is not subject to zoning or deed restrictions, it does not mean it’s the Wild West. According to the most recently updated PD-15 documents, density is limited:
The density of PD 15 is limited to the present density plus the density of the proposed tower on Tract 3, up to a maximum of 52.4 dwelling units per acre.
That proposed tower, planned for the Preston Place lot in the 1970s, originally contained 250 units but was later scaled back to 140 units and finally 125 units. The neighborhood fought the high-rise, and so today’s three-story Preston Place with 60 units was eventually built. The documentation I’ve seen shows the city included the 140-unit number in the PD-15 documents. Subtracting Preston Place’s eventual 60 units, that’s an 80-unit surplus (hold that thought).
According to the plats, the Diplomat and Royal Orleans occupy 85,342 square feet, or 1.96 acres. I am unclear on whether this includes the section of Diamond Head Circle that separates the buildings. It is a private road owned by the buildings fronting it. I am equally unsure if Diamond Head Circle is required to provide emergency access to Preston Place, or if the 20-foot wide easement roadway separating them north-to-south is wide enough.
Will the increased density subject the roadways surrounding this project to minimum street widths? Between Preston Place, Athena and Diamond Head Condos there is the same narrow pass-through.
Assuming 1.96 acres is the total footprint, and that 52.4 units per acre is used, the largest development will replace the current 34 units with 103 units (Royal Orleans 20 units; Diplomat 14 units). If Diamond Head Circle is not part of the lot calculations, add a few more units to that. BUT if unit numbers were used for calculation, that’s 80-surplus units added to the current 34 totaling 114 units.
By either calculation, the unutilized surplus for PD-15 may possibly be consumed by this one project. Any future development in PD-15 will have to gain approval from residents, Plan Commission, and the City Council to change the PD-15 documents.
No mean feat.
Stay tuned for more …
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.