After passing City Plan Commission unanimously, it’s unsurprising that the Dallas City Council passed Streetlights’ plan to redevelop the forlorn Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenue corner currently occupied by a Shell gas station and Pizza Hut, surrounded by surface parking. The lot has remained underutilized since the original movie theater was torn down in the 1980s.
The current plan reimagines the original Melrose Theater’s façade on the lower levels while creating a walkable thoroughfare on both Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenue faces. The height has lowered from 199 feet to 175 feet, which is still five stories above zoning. Speaking of five stories, that’s where the project remains on aboveground parking – a chief sadness when we see other projects nearby being built with all underground parking.
One interesting point was an approved FAR of 3.9-to-1 which encompasses both the corner and the Eatzi’s lot. While Streetlights volunteered to downzone the Eatzi’s lot while moving its height to the corner, this appears to now being done via FAR. Is this better protection from Eatzi’s lot being redeveloped in a “have your cake and eat it too” scenario? Doubtful.
There will be 5 percent affordable housing in the development, which equates to nine units. It is me, or does five percent sound better than nine? At any rate, it’s nine more than was on the lot to begin with.
While there were a lot more speakers in opposition than support (and many of those had ties to the project or lived outside the area), the overall support recorded by city balloting told a story of over 60 percent support for the project within 500 feet.
On a funny note, two of those in support listed their address as 2525 Turtle Creek. What’s funny is that when Prescott was moving through the city with a project next to them, that complex (though not these speakers) were vocally against it.
There was an ask from the City Council for the city to look at the intersection for any traffic improvements that could be made in the next bond package (there’s always a “next” bond). And given the timetable for this project’s construction, it may dovetail with that next bond.
Aside from my concern on above-ground parking, I wonder about precedent. The other side of Lemmon Avenue (home to Scardello cheese) could be assembled into a similarly-sized lot which one could foresee a similarly-sized project acting as gateway on Lemmon Avenue. It’s a prospect I’d be unexcited to see.
Finally, while preserving Eatzi’s seemed a holy totem, I think it was a card overplayed. I think, as the coming Central Market on Mckinney and Lemmon will prove, Eatzi’s is not irreplaceable.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.