Before the hostilities erupted surrounding the eventual control of the Oak Lawn Committee, Crescent Properties presented a project to refresh 2401 Cedar Springs Road. It’s a 1987 building at Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road that’s across the street from both Coalvines Pizza and another recent OLC-vetted project, Granite’s Cedar Maple.
The biggest visual change is the reimagining of the terribly dated, granite-clad turret with its odd bell tower-shaped cupola. As you see above, the granite is gone, revealing a glass cylinder. However, there’s more to see on the ground level. On the left side (Maple Avenue) will be a new white tablecloth restaurant anchoring a new, more transparent ground floor lobby.
The other very noticeable change is the closing of the existing driveway/cut through between Cedar Springs and Maple. By reattaching the port cochere to the main building, Crescent is able to open up the ground floor lobby and reorient the main entrance to Cedar Springs Road (three green circles upper right). It’s worth noting that all those green circles are existing mature trees that Crescent will preserve.
One amusing fact shared by Crescent about the port cochere is that only two of the columns are load bearing. The rest are ornamental – which should give you an idea what was considered high-taste in 1987.
The new front of the building is designed to be a convivial space where workers and passersby would sit for a chat. And it looks fine, but there’s absolutely no reason to sit here. The restaurant is at the other end with its own patio, so I can only imagine weekday smokers or Coalvines take-out artists being drawn to the space. Hardly the stuff of urban streetscape “activation”.
The proposed restaurant on Maple looks fine also. You can also see in this image that the ground floor skin of the building has been recessed to allow for an outdoor patio, walkway and valet stand (put a pin in that).
The Cedar Springs side offers the same ground floor pull-back minus a restaurant. This is the new lobby entrance to the building with a drop-off area.
I hear you asking, “But Jon, where’s the ‘but’? You always have a ‘but’ or three.”
The “buts” are the traffic and pedestrian patterns. On the upper right is Cedar Springs and walkers along the street are expected to walk around the driveway/drop-off zone and into the recessed portion of the building before returning to the sidewalk at the end of the driveway. Crescent described the recess as a promenade. I’d call it a detour that gives deference to the automobile.
On the Maple Avenue side, it’s worse. We were told lazy Dallas wouldn’t patronize a good restaurant if they couldn’t alight from their car within five feet of the front door. It’s not that I don’t agree, but geez. But because they can only squeeze a single lane of traffic for the valet, it’s a nightmare in waiting.
That single-lane driveway will handle both drop-offs and pick-ups, a situation ripe for backups into the street on busy nights (heaven forbid a large party). But the fun really kicks in when valeted cars need to be returned to their dined owners. They have to turn left out of the garage and onto Maple before turning left again 100 feet later back into the driveway, provided it’s not clogged. The alternative would be to send returning valet traffic completely around the block (five right turns).
And while the curb cuts on Maple are unchanged, they’ll get a whole lot busier for pedestrians trying to navigate that side of Maple Avenue.
The obvious suggestion is for valet parking in the underground garage, Crescent nixed that because again, Dallasites are too lazy to valet underground and take an elevator one floor to the restaurant lobby level. I guess none of these hungry patrons visit the theater district and its underground parking.
In this Oak Lawn Committee meeting, my “buts” were those of the committee as well. I’d hazard a guess that over 70 percent of questions were in some way related to parking or pedestrian access. No one really gave a flip about the glass turret.
Part of the problem is teaching a 1987 dog a new trick. This building wasn’t designed for collaborative spaces to engage the public. It was a mid-rise office building top to bottom to an underground garage. I’m afraid there simply isn’t the perimeter space for two-way driveways even if Crescent mowed down the trees and eliminated the sidewalk altogether. But with an overwhelming number of questions about traffic patterns and pedestrian wayfinding, Crescent hasn’t heard the last of this.
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.