UPDATE: Time To Stop Work On Crescent Communities’ Novel Turtle Creek?

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Yesterday, as part of my Oak Lawn Committee meeting coverage, I wrote about a project underway by Crescent Communities near Oak Lawn and Irving Avenues. I was ticked because I saw the building vastly exceeding the square footage possible on their 0.936 acre parcel. In fact, I was seeing double the density possible.

Throughout yesterday, additional information began to be teased out.

At the Oak Lawn Committee meeting, Crescent Communities said their lot is 1.83 acres and at that size they’re within their buildable envelope. Were that true, they might be correct.

Late yesterday I received a response from Kris Sweckard the director of Sustainable Development and Construction for the City of Dallas. He told me that back on January 17, 2019 the actual 0.9336 acre Novel parcel (formerly owned by Southwest Bell) and the neighboring parcel still owned by Southwest Bell (SBC) had been replatted by Plan Commission into a single lot.  In fact the replat filing said, “The number of lots permitted by this plat is one.”

OK, let’s look.

Sure enough, CPC gave approval for the Crescent’s Novel parcel to be replatted with the neighboring SBC parcel (to create that 1.83 acre parcel touted to the Oak Lawn Committee).

But here’s the thing – it’s never been recorded with DCAD and it still reflects two owners AND Crescent told the Oak Lawn Committee they’re not buying the SBC site. So unless Crescent and SBC are going to become development partners/co-owners of the site (nothing reflects that as of now) you can’t replat two properties into one while maintaining separate ownership just to take the density rights.

And if the replatting was for more than just accumulating FAR, more things might be out of whack. The one that jumps to mind is lot coverage, which according to the Oak Lawn Plan is 60 percent max. The footprint of the Novel looks higher than that without the SBC/AT&T parcel added in.

But it gets better. The SBC site is larger than these parcels – it’s connected to parcels in back, taking the “end cap” of the block. So for this deal to work one of these things would seem to need to happen:

  1. Crescent Communities would have to purchase the SBC/AT&T parcel for unified ownership and shared rights.
  2. The SBC/AT&T parcel would have to be replatted so that the lower half could be joined with the Crescent as per their replatting application. This would require either singular ownership or a partnership ownership between SBC/AT&T and Crescent.
  3. SBC/AT&T could buy the Crescent parcel back

And remember, Tuesday night the Oak Lawn Committee heard Crescent had no plans to buy the SBC/AT&T site. But they were shown this …

As you can see above, the graphic presented to the Oak Lawn Committee seems to show that the “top/bottom” SBC/AT&T lots have been separated (which they haven’t).It also shows an extended landscape area wrapping around Crescent’s Novel frontage as well as the southern portion of the SBC/AT&T parcel. This misleads viewers into thinking the parcel is connected (which it isn’t).

What The Plat Said

The Oak Lawn Committee was also shown that the 26-foot gap between their parcels would be a utility and emergency services right-of-way that would be gated and mostly used for a dog park. But, a condition of their replatting stated that, “The utility and fire lane easements shall be open to the public, fire and police units, garbage and rubbish collection agencies, and all public and private utilities for each particular use.” [Emphasis mine]

But how can you have easements open to the public that are gated dog parks?

City staff also said that, “Capacity of existing wastewater system is questionable. Submit proposed wastewater discharge (gpm) of development for further assessment.” Since it seems no final documents were filed, was this? You can read the replat filing here.

Building Permits

I’m left wondering how this project got building permits.  Clearly no one checked that the filed replatting of the two parcels had occurred. Equally obvious is that no one read the replat application to see that the terms of the replatting were met.

So kids, is it time to stop work on this project until this is all figured out?

Correction

Yesterday’s piece quoted Lauren Ferguson saying she’d been in discussions with the head of the Oak lawn Committee. I received an irate call this morning from OLC president Hilda Rodriguez vehemently denying any conversations took place. She said that Lauren had alerted her to a future by-right project that they would like to present to the OLC. Rodriguez says there was no detail on the project discussed.

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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.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. John Sieber says

    I wish I understood what the attraction was to building a high rise in that location.
    It’s not like it is close to anything….. Trolleys, Turtle Creek Park, West Village, Katy Trail, Nightclubs are not really in walking distance unless you want to risk your life crossing Oak Lawn.

  2. Jouno says

    Well that certainly didn’t take long for the developer to find a way to pull a quick one on the city and the OLC . After the Streetlights project on Lemmon and Oak Lawn that got approved with the transferring of property rights many people said this is just the beginning of developers finding a way to get around their zoning. Little did one know it would be this fast. Hopefully it can be stopped and reviewed properly.

  3. William A. Morgan says

    Mr. Anderson,

    I continue to be extremely confused by this case.

    Crescent has announced plans to build a 314,000 sf structure on the site they presently own, which is 40,668 sf. This implies an FAR (floor area ratio) of 7.72, but the maximum FAR allowed at that location is only 4.5, meaning they appear to be attempting to build 130,966 sf more than is legally permissible, absent any other facts.

    At the Oak Lawn Committee meeting, however, they showed a site which includes the adjacent AT&T facility next door, which contains an additional 39,178 sf. Given the low density and lot coverage of the existing AT&T facility, if the two sites were to be combined, the proposed development would be legal. It also looks like a replatting to accommodate this was passed by the City Plan Commission on January 17, 2019, at AT&T’s request, on behalf of Crescent Communities. Oddly, however, at the end of last year, AT&T transferred only the proposed apartment tower site to Crescent, retaining ownership of the western half of the proposed site, which includes its existing building.

    Nevertheless, Crescent could still construct this legally if it were to go ahead and purchase the remaining portion of the proposed site from AT&T. But, at the Oak Lawn Committee meeting earlier this week, they stated they had no plans to purchase the AT&T site, but planned to construct their apartment tower anyway. This seems like it would be illegal, as it would violate both the 4.5 FAR limit and the 60% lot coverage maximum which govern the site under existing zoning law.

    Do I understand this correctly? Are they planning to file an upzoning request with the city to accommodate the proposed tower, since they aren’t going to purchase the rest of the site, as previously indicated on the replat application which was approved by CPC last year?

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