Reality Sets In For One Developer at December Oak Lawn Committee Meeting

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After a blistering first meeting with the Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) back in September, Provident returned Tuesday night with a radically different plan at McKinney and Hester Avenues.  While short on specifics, I suspect Masterplan painted in broad strokes just to see if they were on the right track. Based on the original design language, it’s still not going to win any awards, but when was the last time Dallas won an architectural award? Perhaps Rotten Tomatoes needs to expand their repertoire?

On the upside, there is a whole lot less of it. September’s 14-story, super-dense monstrosity has been pared back to just five stories. That’s about 100 feet shorter. The number of apartments dropped in line with the height haircut, down from 350 to 195 with average unit size increasing from 950 square feet to 995. Parking needs diminished from four awful above-ground levels to one full underground and one half level above ground – which will be concealed behind ground-floor apartments.

Hester proposed pool deck

What is interesting is the ground-floor pool deck. In the era of off-the-ground amenity decks, the street-level pool is an interesting change. The OLC is interested in seeing a landscape plan for this area. In the drawing above, there isn’t even a fence and I’m sure it’s not intended to be an area amenity.

Shallow indents on the top of the image

One visual disconnect are the indentions (that allow more apartments because of increased window space).  In the map view, they show as being quite shallow while in the visual, they’re quite deep.  Shallow equates to more light for these units while deeper means darker.

Deep indentions and white, energy inefficient roof

One other aspect jumps out at me.  A huge, sprawling white roof.  How about a green roof?  Yes, it adds weight, but it saves HVAC electricity and doubles the life of the roof.  It also may not weigh as much as you think.  A basic sedum roof system weighs 13 pounds per square foot.  Surprised?  Drought-resistant sedum also requires no watering except in the most unusual circumstances.

Back in September I commented that the original bloated plan “smacked of a client who wanted to teeter out a bad plan just to see what happened.” They saw and vastly retooled the project. Funnily, they used the building to the south as their example pointing out that this project is a pinch less … less lot coverage (85 percent versus 70), less FAR (3.84:1 versus 3.8:1), 205 units versus 195, 75 feet high versus 70 … you get the idea.

Now comes the work of filling in the blanks left by this less detailed plan.  Things like landscaping and a parking plan for visitors, delivery trucks and moving vans were left out of this presentation.  They’ll be returning to the OLC in the new year with the details, now that the building’s envelope isn’t causing bug-eyed headaches.

Total Wine

Total Wine returned to the OLC with a new façade that doesn’t turn a sheer wall to the street.  They’ve reworked the corner into a glass box, added green trellises across the long wall and shaded them with an arbor.  Still no door though.

Alcohol is a funny business that likes one entry/exit (shoplifting management). Oak Lawn Avenue doesn’t want parking lots on the street, preferring the building to be on the street to encourage walkability.  A normal business might have two entrances (street and parking lot) to maximize pedestrian and car access. But alcohol use on Oak Lawn Avenue’s recommendations equates to buildings without street entry (more customers will drive). It’s an imperfect solution to an imperfect situation.

For those wondering, there were complaints from existing businesses like Bellini’s that the owners hadn’t been communicating well with them about finding new locations.  Bellini’s has been in the existing strip center for 16 years.  Owners were encouraged to start helping these long-time businesses relocate.  As one member pointed out, Total Wine shouldn’t come at the cost of existing jobs and community businesses.

The main issue of a temporary variance for alcohol sales for three years while the neighboring church moves to a permanent location, was recommended.

4203 Abbott Avenue

Last up was a boo-boo.  A pair of for sale, 4,100-square-foot townhouses appear to have not done their homework, bypassing OLC and going to city planning … and getting approved … apparently by mistake.  Once construction began, Northern Hills residents got the project red tagged. Oops.  Now that the foundations are in, they find their setbacks aren’t set back enough.  Now they want an adjustment so they don’t have to rip out the foundations and begin again.

I dislike this kind of problem.  If the city approves something, they don’t get to renege on the “promise” without municipal consequences.  If the foundations have to be re-poured and buildings redesigned, the city should foot the bill. I mean, if a builder or renovator can’t count on a permit being trustworthy, that’s pretty pitiful.


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 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


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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


  1. Eric says

    The large building could be made much nicer with retail. Too bad total wine couldn’t be developed with a housing component.

  2. CRITIC says

    re: Abbott & Fitzhugh project– the slab was not yet poured for this project when the neighborhood questioned the setbacks. When the foundation boards were in place the community realized the setback encroachment in PD 193. The owner is pleading hardship because of a narrow lot. No hardship here to even possibly prove,,, sorry, redesign one smaller unit in this eight unit development.

    Seems this was approved by somebody at the building department that is now longer employed.

    Even when the plans are stamped and approved by the building department it states subject to all laws, rules, and regulations. Builders beware.

  3. Jordan Brooks says

    What a disappointment. Cutting the number of units almost in half? I want Dallas to be and feel like a real city, and the only way to do that is to let more people live in the core. This is on McKinney Ave!

    Also, to the extent that you’re concerned about housing affordability.. the more units we allow to be built, the less city-wide and regional rents will increase.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      I agree with the sentiment, but…
      North of Knox isn’t the core of Dallas, even on McKinney Avenue. Downtown Dallas needs tens of thousands more people to live there before we have the urban vibrancy I believe we both strive for. The coming 20-acre Smart District south of City Hall doesn’t appear to have a single residential unit.
      Yes, I’m concerned about housing affordability. It’s something our lazy city has ignored. But the units that would be torn down for this project are more affordable than anything in the project and there are more of them. Projects like this exacerbate unaffordability regardless of any affordable component.

  4. Betty Quicksall says

    You need to go see the Total Wines building going up. What happened with the rendering you are showing here for Total Wines? Have you seen what they have up now? A solid concrete wall with ZERO setback. The wall is to where the sidewalk will be!!! Horrendous! How do they show this rendering you have here and then build something totally different???? WHAT IS GOING ON?

    • mmJon Anderson says

      I will be by there this evening and will take a closer look. The pic I showed was what they shared at this meeting. That said, this was always going to be a back-to-the-street building with entrance and parking in the rear (an OLC mistake to approve along with the Starbucks across the street). What you’re seeing now is just the wall, any articulation and fake windows would be added later. But as I said, I will be by there later and will look.

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