Oak Lawn Committee Sees Three Projects With Differing Parking Considerations

Granite returned to the Oak Lawn Committee as part of a three-building agenda. While Granite’s Cedar Maple project was last on the agenda, its size pushes it to the front of my line. After last month’s OLC meeting, the developer was given eight things to work on, and they did.

The biggest was a reduction in height from 425 to 399 feet, which eliminated two office floors and also cut parking by 111 spaces. Part of the reduction was based on Granite’s own internal research into parking patterns within its multimillion square feet of office properties. Their research shows a continual decline in parking usage — some from Uber and Lyft, some from walking and cycling, and some just from people not being in the office as much. If you work from home two days per week, that’s two days a parking space will be empty. Flow that through hundreds of workers and two lost floors, and the result is fewer spaces.

They also supplied support letters, a more fleshed-out landscape plan, and answers about parking on its adjacent streets.  Kinda nuts and bolts, the fun and confusion came in from the traffic study.

Net-net, they’ll generate 838 new trips at morning peak-hour and 810 new trips at afternoon peak-hour. There was confusion about how to interpret the study. Queries came of how they arrived at 800-ish trips with a traffic impact of one-ish vehicles per minute on each surrounding street (having 60 minutes in an hour).

The answer comes in the wording that I’ll admit not having seen expressed quite this way before. Each of the three surrounding roadways had a calculation of cars per minute … per lane of traffic. One car per minute per lane on a two-lane road is 120 trips per hour. Cedar Springs is four-lanes so 240 cars per hour. When you add up the lanes and cars per minute for the other bordering roads, you get your 800-ish number.

Granite also provided a shade study. Shown above is the likely worst time of year. It’s the shortest day of the year and the sun is the furthest south on the horizon. This results in very long shadows, however because of the building’s orientation, the longest shadows are blocked by neighbors at 9 a.m. and fairly narrow by the time 3 p.m. rolls around.   It’s important to note that the light gray are the shadows thrown by neighboring buildings while the darker grey are the Cedar Maple ones.

“Green” Is More Than a Color

There was one happiness-to-sadness moment. In the above graphic I noted that now both restaurant buildings would have green roofs (Yay!). But one canny OLC member asked whether they would be living green roofs or AstroTurf. AstroTurf said Granite. I’m sorry, but a plastic roof whose care requires a vacuum cleaner isn’t a green roof, it’s a cheat, like Formica “stone” countertops or vegan cheese.

After the meeting I ran into the Granite team in the Melrose Hotel bar and made my discontent known. There are all sorts of options for drought-tolerant plants, succulents and other low-maintenance plantings. Given that these are restaurant spaces, why can’t herbs be grown on the roof.  Celebrity chef Rick Bayless very successfully offers roof-to-table vegetables and herbs for his award-winning restaurants. Chicago-based Bayless claims an eight-month growing season. Surely Texas can beat that?

I received three pushbacks. First was cost, which I’d debunk as being very minimal for a from-scratch building and something the restaurants and their customers should embrace (along with lower HVAC costs). Secondly, the Dallas heat was thought to be an impediment. I reminded then that this year’s International Green Roof Congress was held in the Middle East where our 100-degree summer is their sweater-weather. Third was how well living greenery would handle HVAC repair people walking on the plants. As you can see above, the HVAC units are already located on un-green corners, so no traipsing needed.

Since the building won’t be moving dirt until January 2021, I was told plans weren’t finalized and green may become living green. Whether that was intended to fob me off or not, time will tell.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for Merry Maids hauling a Hoover up a ladder.

I still like this project, but as I said, “green” is more than a color (of plastic).

5000 Maple Avenue (at Amelia)

Located kitty-corner from the old Elliott’s Hardware, and current Kroger, 5000 Maple Avenue has been a vacant eyesore. The roughly half-acre site proposes to become a restaurant with a European feel offering Syrian-fusion cuisine (I can hardly wait for that palate). The new building will follow urban forms as it’s pushed to the front of the lot with outdoor seating and greenery.

They were at the OLC for two reasons. They asked for some sidewalk relief from the city’s current 6-foot width and also to scoot by with three fewer parking spaces than required. The three spaces are double-edged. Having met with the surrounding neighborhood, they asked that a current entrance to the property be relocated. When that was done, they lost three spaces net. The sidewalk relief comes down to a small lot and the city having widened sidewalk rules since the parcel was originally developed.

In exchange the owner was willing to make concessions limiting the type of business that could operate on the site along with the hours (midnight closing time).

The owner is a wine and spirit importer who distributes to 48 US states, so the wine program is guaranteed to be pretty stellar.

3620 Inwood Road

Located near the corner of Lemmon Avenue and Inwood Road, this property currently houses an AAMCO transmission shop and is next to Braum’s. It’s an even tighter parcel measuring 13,566 square feet with 5,595 square feet of existing buildings.

The site owner has already renovated the other end of building (far right in the above picture) and wants to continue that work. Their ask from the OLC is to be able to use 18 parking spaces for the combined businesses instead of the 26 that would be required by existing zoning.

Clarification

These three projects were presented to the Oak Lawn Committee and in featuring them here, I am not saying they have passed the OLC test for support. Some readers think projects written about have all been supported. Nope, they were only presented. Generally, when they go to City Plan Commission, that’s a signal that OLC has supported the project.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.