Lincoln Katy Trail Project Fails Plan Commission Passage; Oak Lawn Committee On Notice

Lincoln Property’s Lincoln Katy Trail project failed to gain support from City Plan Commission. However, mimicking the Oak Lawn Committee’s own waffling, Plan Commission’s vote was tighter than it might have been had the OLC been more crisp and decisive in its own votes on this project.

Several Plan Commissioners voiced concerns about the OLC’s role in moving goal posts as Lincoln representative Angela Hunt claimed. One example given of “post moving” was the opposition’s desire for the building to be split in three sections instead of the two they got. Several Plan Commissioners and Commission Chair Gloria Tarpley said this was the first time they’d heard about the three-building desire. However when Lincoln first showed the original building broken in two last month, I checked the tape from the July CPC meeting and Vine condo representative Amanda Popken listed a three-building split as one of the desires. So no post-moving on this issue.

Commissioner Margot Murphy expressed the sentiment that view corridors are not protected. While I’d agree with that for construction of by-right projects, I don’t when view encroachment is the result of doubling the allowable zoning height. Zoning has to stand for something.

Due to wording, “Yes” was in support of a motion to deny the project.

Commission Chair Tarpley took the time to ask city staff to clarify the Oak Lawn Committee’s role. Neva Dean said it was a neighborhood group with no special power or enablement, and extra weight need not be given. As Tarpley made the original motion to support the project, one could say that taking that extra step to dis the OLC (an organization all CPC members are well aware of) was a tactic to downplay the group’s significance in Plan Commissioners’ decision – giving them permission to ignore OLC’s recommendation.

It’s interesting that the last time OLC was ignored, it was with mayoral support back in the 1990s – Tarpley is Mayor Rawlings appointee to Plan Commission. I’m not saying Rawlings was telegraphing anything here, but the coincidental mayoral element is one for the history books.

Thankfully others set the record straight about the OLC charter and how it was created. The OLC are the stewards of the Oak Lawn Plan within PD-193. But, the undermining done by Tarpley and others should send a clear message to OLC leadership that they need to tread more carefully and surely when vetting projects.

It should be noted that the only project supporter from the public to speak outside the Lincoln team was Leland Burk, current vice-president of the OLC and the project’s sole supporter on the executive committee. While there as a private citizen (although he noted his OLC position), it is indicative of fractions within the OLC reported in September.

One happy surprise was Paul Ridley, Plan Commissioner appointed by Philip Kingston in whose district this project would reside. It was Ridley’s motion to deny support to the project that passed. After what I felt were softball questions in prior meetings, Ridley offered a well-rounded commentary on the OLC and the need for Dallas to preserve its few remaining downtown-adjacent MF-2 housing stock. It may be aging, but it’s also affordable.  Diligence must be done before scrapping it. Thank you, Mr. Ridley.

Amongst the discussion, the city’s upcoming regulations on affordable housing were discussed. The question was asked about how this project would fare under those guidelines. Lincoln Katy Trail was offering a small five percent, but under the guidelines being reviewed, it would fall between 10-to-15 percent for the additional height and density being requested.

In one odd/funny note, one of my columns for “Cindy’s” was quoted by a resident under a thick Irish accent. It was interesting to hear my words in Plan Commission, but fun to hear them dubbed into Irish-English.

Is this the last for Lincoln on this project?  I have no idea if they will go back to the drawing board or, if as one Plan Commissioner said, too much bad blood has been spilt.

To end on a high note, it was great to hear several Plan Commissioners say they had begun to attend OLC meetings. I think seeing their process will provide not only insights into the group’s thinking, but they may learn a few things too – I know they’ve certainly been a great school for me to attend.

 

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.

 

4 Comment

  • I find it disconcerting that city staff and some Plan Commissioners, especially Ms. Tarpley and Mr. Houseright, are so unfamiliar with PD 193 and the Oak Lawn Plan, why they exist and why they are still so relevant today. It is a red flag for every neighborhood in Dallas when people of power disregard and disrespect their constituents as Gloria Tarpley and others did today. I was very appreciative of Mr. Ridley’s motion, its rationale, and the words of Mr. Rieves and Mr. Jung. They get it. Let this be a lesson. The Oak Lawn Committee, PD 193 and the Oak Lawn Plan are as relevant today as they were in 1984. They should be supported, not ignored.

  • mm

    After this saga, the outcome is a welcome one. Good to see that a more serious discussion regarding affordable housing in the Oak Lawn area is happening.

  • The 50,000 residents of Oak Lawn & Uptown owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mr. Paul Ridley (appointed by Council Member Philip Kingston) for defending the Oak Lawn Plan, the area’s official, extremely successful land use plan that has been repeatedly cited as a great example of successful urban planning.

    The Oak Lawn Plan was the product of over one year’s work by the Oak Lawn Forum and represents consensus agreement among business, real estate, developer, and neighborhood interests in the Oak Lawn and Uptown area. It is the continued respect for the high standards contained in this document that has lead to neighborhood preservation and upgrading, improved development standards and increased walkability.

    Mr. Ridley, along with Plan Commissioners Mark Rieves and Michael Jung, did a great job of explaining how important it is that we continue to be guided by the principles outlined in the Oak Lawn Plan if we want to ensure the area’s continued and increasing high quality of life. Maintaining the Plan’s integrity is also critically important to prospective real estate investors and residents, allowing them to make continued investments in the areas revitalization with confidence, knowing with some certainty the development and redevelopment patterns that will evolve around them– planning accordingly.

    Generally speaking, the residents of Oak Lawn and Uptown are very pro-development, and pro-density— but insist on smart, context sensitive projects that are respectful of the Oak Lawn Plan (which includes respecting the interests of surrounding property owners). Developers who take the time to understand the Oak Lawn Plan collaborate transparently with existing stakeholders, and design projects that reinforce (rather than destabilize) neighborhoods typically find a warm reception.

    The location in question occupies a very special position in Oak Lawn, overlooking the Turtle Creek Corridor, Oak Lawn Park and the Katy Trail. A new development concept that uses the site’s base MF-2 as a starting point and capitalizes on the area’s unique attributes would likely be well-received by surrounding commercial and residential property owners.