OLC Vets Five Projects: New Lemmon Central Market Revealed, Lincoln Katy Trail Returns

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Oak Lawn Committee
Conceptual Image

Tuesday night’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting was chockablock with five projects. The first peek will be of the proposed Central Market in the perennial unsuccessful supermarket location on McKinney between the Lemmon split. You may recall it as Albertsons or more recently Minyards. At first glance, this is pretty spanky and cool, but the devil is in the details.

It’s proposed to be a whopping big development. There would be a five-level podium covering 95 percent of the parcel that balances two 360’ towers on opposing corners. The larger of the two towers would be a 21-story office building while the other would be an as yet unspecified mix of office, hotel and/or multi-family.

In contrast to Victory Park, HEB is offering three stories of underground parking and an odd two stories above ground. I say odd because the parking levels will actually be above the grocery store on the third-to-fifth floors of the podium. There will be zero surface parking forcing drivers to enter the garage for a quart of milk (not good or bad thing, just a thing).

Between the two towers on top of the podium will be a shared amenity deck. Shared?  Will the office workers one tower be swimming and grilling with the residents and hotel guests of the other tower?

The developer asks are sorta minimal but will have a huge impact on the ground-level feel of the project. And remember, tall is tall, but most people don’t walk around looking up – the streetscape matters. First, the aforementioned 95 percent lot coverage. Geez, it’s already zoned for 80 percent and couldn’t make that work? All the trees surrounding the project will be dropped into what look like 4×4 foot punch-outs in the concrete – and that’s about it. Currently, setbacks are zoned from 10-to-25 feet, HEB wants most at zero and one at 5 feet.

Overall square footage, they’re proposing to come in to the foot with existing zoning at 209,070 square feet.

But let’s talk tall. The lots are currently zoned for 240 feet in height and HEB wants a 50 percent increase to 360 feet. Interestingly they note that this leaves the towers only covering 25 percent of the lots.  Sure, but the freaking podium covers 95 percent and that’s the part matters to streetscape (tsk-tsking my finger at them).

On the one hand, a project this size is a testament to West Village’s success, but come on – this project needs to hit the salad bar and suck in its gut to offer the great streetscape the neighborhood deserves for all the 120’ height increase.

Lincoln Katy Trail

Controversial and largely friendless, this project returned again to Oak Lawn Committee after enough Plan Commissioners told Lincoln representative Angela Hunt they’d have a hard time supporting the reworked project without OLC support.

The reworked plan shown the OLC was identical (to my eyes) to the one they’d presented to Plan Commission in October. If you want to look at the pictures and read about that, click here.

You may recall, a confident Hunt rescheduled their Plan Commission meeting to Thursday, Nov. 15 – just two days after the Oak Lawn Committee meeting. Will Lincoln Katy Trail be on the docket with or without OLC support?  We’ll see, we’ll see.

Proposed building from Cedar Springs heading from Uptown to Oak Lawn

2999 Turtle Creek

Remember a few months ago when the Oak Lawn Committee vetted a possible 5-star hotel, condos, apartments and office trio of buildings on the old Republic Bank parcel at 2727 Turtle Creek next to The Mansion? Now it’s the other side’s turn.

Remember my writing about a Dallas architects FAB Studio and how they just might be working in Dallas?  Here we are.

When this project was revealed to me weeks ago, my first question was how similar it looked to the 2727 Turtle Creek project – almost bookends. Essentially I was told this is more of a massing study than actual exterior plan. I guess architects use the same software so modeling often looks similar. Net-net I was told not to get too hooked on the outside.

So let’s head up in the air. You can see the parcel is dog leg with the bottom street being Turtle Creek with Gillespie to the left and Dickason right. The white knock-out in the lower left is the building seen in the first image.

The blue landing strips are pools for the hotel and residences. The proposal is for 180 hotel rooms (pretty swish hotel at that size) and 85 condos carrying the hotel’s brand – like the Ritz and W Residences. If you’re keeping score the 5-star Mansion and its residences will be flanked by equally luxe hotels and swanky condos. I continue to frustrate developers by guessing who the hotel brands will be (I’ve heard rumors of Mandarin Oriental, but lips are sealed … dammit).

Showing an inkling of the quality of the build, I like this angle at the end of the Gillespie dogleg. The terracing and greenery are standouts to me. You really have arrived. I also like this picture because the developer will groan when I point out (as I did in our meeting) that pretty much every car in their presentation was a Rolls Royce, Bentley or other exotic. In this pic we see the bum of a Rolls while a moped speeds by (whom I imagine flipping the bird).

The developer has a few zoning asks on the project. They want to build 325 feet tall instead of the 240 zoned which results in a FAR of 5.25-to-1.

And, like the 2727 Turtle Creek project this one needs the booze-free zone dropped. The above graphic shows the extent of the dry overlay. Near the top is Oak Lawn Avenue where it’s gone (or never was). Near the bottom is Turtle Creek. The large cutout reflects mostly The Mansion and 2727 Turtle Creek. To a liquor-lovin’ Yankee like me, this is just nuts. But watch out, any opposition to this plan will try to use liquor to try and stymie it.

Obviously, as the actual FAB skin takes shape, I’ll be sharing with you.

Oh, and a second note to Victory Park – all underground parking in exchange for the increased height and density.

The Terminal – 4205 Buena Vista Street at Fitzhugh and Katy Trail

Replacing an orange stucco low-rise, The Terminal would be a vast improvement. The proposed building is designed to house 25 for sale condos, averaging 2,500 square feet, on the upper five floors with various eateries and offices below. The “Terminal” name and imagery are meant to evoke a train terminal, paying homage to the Katy Trail’s roots as a train line. The first two stories have a train terminal reminiscence with oversized arched windows and dark brick.  The glass will surely make working or eating in these spaces light-filled with excellent views of the Katy (and scantily clad summertime joggers).

What’s also cool about these lower two floors is the publicly accessible cut through from the street to the Katy Trail. It not only enables access, but also grounds the building with the trail. Of course, with eateries and watering holes (the developer packet lists “chia pudding” among other delicacies – whatever that is), Regardless of the menu, I’m sure the beckoning is meant to encourage Katy Trail patrons to jog with more money.

Looking at the building from Fitzhugh with Katy Trail on left

Not all is rosy, there’s a pinch of odd. It took me a while to figure out why a portion of the building’s front stuck out (right). It makes the whole building look like it’s been jostled off its base a little. The reason is that the building has to bend out of the way of the huge electrical tower at left. The needed cantilever effects that part of the building from front to back.

I figure there’s little choice in order to get the interiors to work best and not electrocute residents, but it’s still an oddity to the eye that’s made more noticeable by the change in brick color. The bump out reduces some setbacks above 36 feet (part of the developer asks).

Speaking of developer asks, aside from one tree fewer on the Fitzhugh and Buena Vista elevations, they’re asking for 3.6-to-1 FAR instead of 2.5-to-1. But the added FAR equates to a taller building (that’s still below zoned height) so they can drop the lot coverage from the zoned 80 percent to the proposed 62.5 percent. This should make the connectivity with the Katy that much stronger (as if the chia pudding needed help – ha!).

Note three to Victory Park – all parking, valet, trash and loading will be underground.

Shelby Family Offices – McCommas at McKinney

Also bordering the Katy Trail is a new office building replacing the Atlantic National Trust building. Unlike the rest of the night’s projects, this one was a drive-by to let the OLC know what was up. A courtesy, given that it’s being built so far within its allowed zoning, it’s shocking. It’s a five-story building in an area zoned for 240-foot height.

One funny – how do I know about the Atlantic National Trust?  Because the images looked so 1980s or 1990s with its rounded glass skin that I thought this was a remodel versus new construction. I’m not throwing shade on the project, it’s just the combination of its name (“family offices”), rounded edges and such a short building for the area made me wonder.

As I said, they’re not asking for anything, so there’s not much more to tell.

That’s it, five cases up; five cases down.


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.





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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. 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.

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