Clairvoyance can be a terrible burden. Thankfully, it didn’t take any special powers to foresee Lincoln Property Company returning to the Oak Lawn Committee for their Lincoln Katy Trail project. After seeing the reactions of City Plan Commissioners on Sept. 22 to Lincoln’s plan to skip a re-blessing by the Oak Lawn Committee to their very different plan, I saw it as a foregone conclusion.
Had Plan Commission passed the project without renewed OLC support, it would have been precedent setting. I spoke with a few OLC old-timers and the only time any of them can remember that happening was when Victory was taking shape with the American Airline Center’s birth back in the 1990s. I was told that while OLC had a seat at the table, they were largely ignored as the area’s plan was being pushed with mayoral support.
I think we can all agree that the OLC’s success in managing Oak Lawn development has resulted in a lot better neighborhood than Victory. In fact, Victory got top honors as a failure in D Magazine’s recent “Dallas and The New Urbanism” special edition with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science called out separately for its poor streetscape, saying it makes “Field Street a miserable place to walk.”
Of course, what would this project be without arrogance?
At the Nov. 1 CPC meeting, the delay was announced by Lincoln representative Angela Hunt with the express purpose to return to the OLC. But the next OLC meeting is Nov. 13, and all she asked for was a delay until the next CPC meeting on Nov. 15. With barely 40 hours separating the two meetings, there’s clearly no room for error or to fix any quibbles the OLC may want to quibble over. Heck, the ink on the OLC’s support or no-support letter will still be wet. Definitely more check-box drive-by than collaboration.
The Oak Lawn Committee needs to be very careful with this plan for a reason I only became aware of recently. The city requires a supermajority of CPC and City Council support for projects where more than 20 percent of respondents within a 200-foot notification zone are against it. The problem is that within 200 feet of Lincoln Katy Trail is The Vine (opposed), Turtle Creek Terrace (sellers), Carlisle on the Katy Trail (owned by developer Nazerian) and Turtle Creek Park itself (no residents; no vote). The Taylor has already built a large structure by right (existing rights well before OLC’s PD-193) and the Perot-owned properties are neutral.
The Vine is the only owner-occupied building within 200 feet that isn’t looking for a profit and they only comprise approximately 19.95 percent of the notification area. If owners within the Turtle Creek Terrace (selling) complex who are opposed to selling were able to separately vote, it would put opposition over 20 percent needed for a supermajority. This kind of technicality is how neighborhoods get eaten with developers taking a land-and-expand approach, nibbling into a once off-limits area.
In situations like this, where owner-occupied interests are physically unable to make the 20 percent benchmark (and in this case are perilously close), should OLC act as their voice? Should CPC and City Council more heavily weigh these owners’ desires when deciding whether to support or deny a project?
Of course I’m going to say they should … and you didn’t have to be clairvoyant to figure that out.
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.