With luck, this is the last time we will see this rendering of Lincoln Property’s Lincoln Katy Trail project. Rewinding the clock, in February, the project passed Oak Lawn Committee by a single contentious vote after multiple unsuccessful trips seeking support. This scant win was followed in July by a disastrous City Plan Commission meeting where no commissioner would second a motion my Philip Kingston’s District 14 representative Paul Ridley – and several calling for Lincoln to return with a better plan. After that meeting I saw the city filing of neighborhood support and saw that aside from those cashing out and moving on, not a single entity was in support of the project.
In the ensuing weeks, Lincoln managed to get a letter of support from the Friends of the Katy Trail (more on that later). However, a meeting last week at the Mayfair condos for its residents plus those of the Vendome and the Claridge resulted in no change of heart from the opposed buildings.
Couple all this with a fierce, largely unsuccessful lobbying campaign around City Hall, and even Lincoln had to finally read the writing on the wall.
At the CPC meeting, Lincoln’s chief opponent stated that there was a way for a redesigned building to move forward. I wondered why, when they were given an out, did they seem too arrogant to take it?
The message finally sunk-in late last week. Lincoln postponed their second CPC presentation (scheduled for August 16) until October and has placed themselves on the October Oak Lawn Committee schedule. One assumes this is all in aid of a new design everyone can live with.
“Friends” of The Katy Trail
Two weekends ago I was in New York City and walking along its world-famous High Line Park. For those who don’t know, the High Line is an elevated park running along a section of abandoned rail tracks. Sounds a little like Dallas’ Katy Trail.
The Friends of the High Line have been instrumental in attracting starchitect buildings to its periphery. In stark contrast, The Friends of the Katy Trail sent a note of support for Lincoln’s project. What’s up with that?
A 30 second look at the High Line’s usage is all it takes to realize how much more of an asset it is for New York than The Katy Trail is for Dallas. There are vendors selling ice cream and drinks, rentable sections for private events, scheduled art and dining events – all in aid of creating a public space craved by residents. More like Klyde Warren, but a mile longer.
Back to architecture. At the northern end there’s a new Hudson Yards development where I saw Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel under construction. Further down was Zaha Hadid’s 520 W. 28th Street moving its first residents in. Nearing the end, Studio Gang’s 40 Tenth Avenue project was rising from the ground. At each location, bubbles of people stopped to gawk and photograph the architecture – but what was wholly unexpected were the people Googling the buildings. They wanted to know more about the buildings and the architects. Literally groups of people clustered around a phone screen looking at images while one of them read. They were entranced.
That’s the kind of thrall and popularity the Katy Trail could have.
Instead, the Katy’s “friends” supported a building that offered nothing to the trail. No connection, No interaction. No visually glorious architecture adding to the whole of the Katy Trail experience. In fact the back side of Lincoln’s project showed a fire lane, open parking garage and loading dock through the trees. The only Google search term would be “WTF.”
The Friends of the High Line also began another group called the High Line Network that includes urban parks from across the nation – Houston’s Buffalo Bayou, DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park, Chicago’s 606, San Francisco’s Presidio Tunnel Tops, Austin’s Waller Creek and yes, Dallas’ Klyde Warren and Trinity River Park. Nineteen planned or existing parks in total, but not the Katy Trail.
I’m not saying the Katy Trail is terrible, but it could be so much more if it cared more about what connects to it.
I’m hoping Lincoln’s next iteration is a win for their neighbors, including the Katy Trail – whether they appreciate it or not.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.