The Katy Trail is Becoming a Walled Garden and a Ruined Amenity

The Katy at Victory Park facing down the opening edge of the Katy Trail

From the American Airlines Center and before even turning the corner and passing over the Tollway, the Katy Trail is lined with new apartment buildings towering over it.  From Victory Place, Camden Victory Park, The Alexan, and the latest — Magnolia Station and The Katy at Victory Park — walking at this end of the trail is something less than peaceful. Bleu Ciel will almost complete the curtain.  I’m pretty sure I can hold my breath long enough to see Little Mexico Village and the Magnolia condos fall to development to completely encase this end of the trail.

Of course these apartments have the manufactured hipster vibe residents have self-deluded themselves into thinking they possess.  Magnolia Station talks about apartments that evoke a “Modern Spirit” or “Vintage Soul” while The Katy at Victory Park harkens for residents who “live with intention,” whose “best friend” is their pet, and who want to “live inspired on the trail.”

The southern end of the Katy Trail in Victory Park

In the short 17 years since it opened, the Katy Trail has become a victim of its success.  From New York’s High Line to Chicago’s 606, these railroad lines turned linear parks are catnip to developers.  They’re an amenity they didn’t have to pay for but get to charge more to be near.

What was originally a park where you could feel lost in nature punctuated by the odd high-rise or townhouse backyard is fast becoming a canyon of apartment buildings towering over the trail. Each new balcony stealing a piece of the trail’s tranquility.

The Oak Lawn section of the Katy is nearly full of apartments staring it down

And there’s no end in sight.  The Brady at Cedar Springs and the Katy melds its backyard with the trail if you ignore the fence. Continuing up the trail off Carlisle and there’s the Monaco and Taylor jostling for their trail views. The small spaces on either side of the Monaco are smaller commercial spaces.  I expect the larger 2929 Carlisle building will eventually go while 3109 Carlisle is likely too small to interest large development. I’m sure Monaco’s developer wanted them both at the time.

One of Exxir’s proposals from 2015 (nothing heard since)

On both sides of Hall, there are two low-rise buildings primed for redevelopment (marked in red on the above map). The Carlisle on the Katy Trail is owned by Nazerian’s Exxir Capital Development, while Turtle Creek Terrace is owned by Lincoln Properties. Both see super-sized projects looming over the Katy Trail. (More on those in a future post.)

As a side note, I will congratulate Hillwood.  If something had to be built between the Katy and Turtle Creek, I’m glad it’s their low-rise, hunkered-down headquarters that does what it can to minimize its impact.

Lemmon to Fitzhugh to Armstrong

On the east side of the Katy between Lemmon and Fitzhugh avenues there is a near solid wall of three-story townhouse developments, some dating back decades.  These areas will be slow to redevelop due to the narrow block between the Katy and Buena Vista Street that limits significantly higher density.  Complexes here will redevelop when the neighborhood supports prices that make teardowns financially viable.

From Fitzhugh to Armstrong, Buena Vista is equally narrow but filled with more dense residential developments, some of which have figured out a way to pack more units into their spaces.  I think the closer a lot is to Knox Street and the Park Cities, the better the price points possible for redevelopment.

In neither place do I foresee large-scale, taller structures.  What I do see are new builds as smack-dab on the trail as they’re allowed.

The McKenzie will anchor northern Knox

North of Knox Street

Above Knox Street, the pie-shaped wedge of land opens up wider lots in which we are already seeing increased building and developer interest.  Near Javier’s we’re seeing the 22-story high-rise McKenzie going up by StreetLights Residential.  But even though they’re apartments like in Victory Park, in the rarified air of Park Cities adjacencies, we see branding phrases like “like nothing ever experienced,” “discover luxury and superior service,” and plain old “distinction.”

Even crossing North Central Expressway the Katy Trail canyonization will continue.  How long do we think the Public Storage facility bordering the Katy in back of the Highland will last? There is already a ton of redevelopment going on to the east of Winton Street already.

As I said, the Katy Trail is a victim of its own success.  If it hasn’t happened already, Katy Trail’s participants will soon lament the days when the trail was more wild, more natural, with haphazard trees and underbrush making it really seem like a forested oasis in urban Dallas … instead of the apartment block backyard it’s quickly becoming.

 

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 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

9 Comment

  • It’s nothing compared to what is around the High Line. You can’t expect wild in the middle of a city. The wildest parts of Golden Gate Park are far from the urbanest parts of San Francisco. The problem is we will run out of trail and need to extend it. What we really need is a large non-flooding park to build around.

    • mm

      Yes, but High Line always ran through the center of the New York City. I’m not necessarily saying wild-wild, just that all the new cheek-by-jowl construction is an encroachment on the beauty of the Katy.
      .
      Hmmmm, large park…large park…where could that be???? Oh, that’s right, Fair Park! But with State Fair in a never-ending BOHICA relationship with the City, that’s not happening anytime soon.

      • Fair Park is great but has too much parking and too many buildings. to ever provide much of a respite. In the best urban parks you can really get lost and forget for a moment you are in a major city.

        I think it’s great that all of these new buildings are connected by a pedestrian thoroughfare.

        • Fair Park could be those things if politicians would check State Fair.

          I don’t think the building connections are ugly, they’re just not nearly as good as the natural vegetation they replace. I’d prefer to see the trees marked by a single person-door versus the bleeding together of the Katy and a building’s amenity backyard.

          • One building design for a complex at Bowen and Carlisle I believe showed no integration. It looked like residents would have to walk around the building to get to the trail.
            .
            JON: (System ran out or “replies”) I don’t recall seeing that plan.

  • Thanks, these things wander through my head, as I run up and down the trail. Having been apart of the buildings constructed in the early years of the trail…Its mostly fondness, I feel for development new and old…that is until the seeming waste of mid-rise in the old AA parking lot, and the “dog park” that was placed directly adjacent and on a windless, moist day emits what you would expect.

    For some reason the Hillwood HQ disturbs me, that was one of the wildest portions, now semi-cleared out so the folks in offices can enjoy “nature” views.

    Will we ever see an actual trail connection over 75?

  • It is the middle of the city after all. I’m more worried about the ugly cheap construction.

  • I’m with Mike on this. By the way…a great piece ran in the October issue of D Magazine, titled “Why Dallas Keeps Getting Uglier”, and at first I thought Jon Anderson was writing under an assumed name for the magazine. Sadly, that article was a brief one-pager, but it hit on all the points of generic, me-too construction, with little to no thought given to good, lasting design.

    • We can compromise. The Katy is lined with cheap, ugly construction. 🙂
      .
      I only write dirty stories under assumed names, and that D piece did reference an article I wrote.