Back in June when the results of the PD-15 traffic study were presented, Winstead attorney Tommy Mann noted that if the neighborhood wanted Tulane Blvd. opened to Northwest Highway, they needed to seize “lightning in a bottle.”
Mann represents Preston Place owners, which paid for the traffic study.
What Mann was saying was that with all the focus on rewriting the antiquated PD, there would be no better time to get the right people in the room to figure this out. Those people finally got into a room last Thursday led by Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association city liaison Claire Stanard.
The meeting included council member Jennifer Gates, Michael Morris of North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG), Mo Bur of TxDOT and two of his colleagues, plus David Nevarez, senior traffic engineer for the City of Dallas.
Stanard’s overarching point was that given that the parcels within PD-15 would likely be developed by multiple developers, there needed to be a master plan for how traffic would function as a whole. Otherwise, the developers might not come together for the heavy lifting of opening Tulane Blvd. to flush traffic directly on/off Northwest Highway instead of circuitous routes through the neighborhood.
It’s an idea I floated a year ago and have continuously supported. Stanard took the “lightening in a bottle” and ran with it.
I find Stanard’s take of PHSNA not taking sides with regard to the height and density — issues that have plagued redevelopment from the very beginning — refreshing. As a neighborhood association comprising some 1,850 residents on both sides of this issue, her tack has been to ensure the neighborhood functions come what may.
As relayed to me, the meeting concluded with NTCOG agreeing to fund an engineering study and the costs associated with opening Tulane Blvd. NTCOG isn’t overly generous, instead they’re acting more like a bank. The plan would require developers to chip in their pro-rata share of the cost as they redevelop – eventually NTCOG gets paid back on their investment. NTCOG has apparently done this before. This way, Tulane Blvd. is opened at once as part of that overarching master plan.
Questions were raised about the existing drain at Tulane and Northwest Parkway which would need to be reconfigured to lay flat on the roadway (and get a grill to keep it clear of large debris). Also, there is a grade change between the two roads, but TXDoT was confident these were relatively simple things.
The plan is for a “right-in, right-out” intersection instead of the four-way signaled intersection I’d envisioned. But this plan will mitigate at least half the traffic increases.
Additional provisions would include a fire plan for emergency services circulation.
All this would be tied to new language inserted into the proposed PD-15 rewrite – hopefully before the Wednesday, Sept. 11, Dallas City Council meeting.
There’s the added wrinkle that the four PD-15 properties fronting Northwest Highway (Athena, Preston Tower, Royal Orleans, and Preston Place) would have to agree to the planned opening due to a 1966 contract between the parcels concerning the Northwest Parkway easement. They might also have to “donate” lands on either side of the opening for slow-down/speed-up lanes, but I believe these lands would be contained to the developing lots of Royal Orleans and Preston Place.
So yes, there is still a bit of work to hammer out before Wednesday’s meeting, but the bones are there. Hopefully, when challenged with scant time, everyone can rise to the occasion.
This work also proves, in part, that Gates has good intentions for the neighborhood: She was not setting off a development bomb without ensuring the developers give something towards the neighborhood’s ongoing success. Should it have been done a year ago? Sure. But it’s getting done now.
Funny personal note: The contract between the Northwest Highway landowners is contained in every set of closing documents for every condo sold in those buildings. Essentially there are over 500 copies of this in every homeowners’ hands – not counting the buildings (who supply the building documents to buyers). And yet, I was seemingly the only person who had a copy. Athena management even asked me for a copy. Ditto the land surveys that show the 100-foot setback on their respective deeds and the city’s own maps going back to 1945.
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.