Windmass Capital’s Vision for Colorado Blvd at Marsalis Ave in North Oak Cliff

After over a year of meeting with neighbors, stakeholders, and City of Dallas staff, the WindMass Capital development team has thrown in the towel just before this Wednesday’s City Council meeting where they would have been on the agenda to move forward on a very complicated deal.

WindMass owns the Founders Square Apartments. Over the decades the building became surrounded on three sides by Oak Cliff‘s Founders Park. Long story short, they hoped to swap their 1.37 acres for the adjacent 1.37 acres on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Marsalis Ave., build a new mixed-use apartment building with retail on the ground floor, then demolish their old building, give it to the city all cleaned up like park land should be, and give a half million dollars to the city for additional park improvements. Sounds pretty crazy amazing, doesn’t it?

As Willis Winters, Director of the Park Department, said at the last Park Board meeting, the city has tried to purchase this property for years to make Founders Park more contiguous, but hasn’t been able to afford it.  This project would essentially accomplish that goal for the Parks Department.

Even neighbors and stakeholders were in support, a rare feat in itself!

(more…)

Indigo River Tiny Homes’ offers both tiny homes on wheels and those built on permanent foundations. This 24-foot model, dubbed ‘Baby Blue’ is on the market for $55,500. (Photo: Indigo River Tiny Homes)

And, to be honest, not all tiny homes are created the same way. When Peter Huggler launched Indigo River Tiny Homes, he sought to fill a small but increasingly important niche in the North Texas housing market. The veteran-owned firm, based in Garland, specializes in custom tiny homes on wheels that bridge the gap between pricey prefab and DIY jobs. Not only are they building beautiful, functional, and energy-efficient tiny homes on wheels, but they’re also starting to build tiny homes on permanent foundations, too.

That’s good news for Dallasites who want to take advantage of changes to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations in Dallas that now allow for homeowners to build income-producing space on their property with full kitchens and baths as a way to hedge against our growing affordable housing problem. 

Right now they have two spec models ready for purchase: Baby Blue (pictured above, $55,500) and Big Blue (below, $68,500). These two models show just how customizable Indigo River Tiny Homes are, with Baby Blue offering more of a stripped-down, minimalist aesthetic with bright white, streamlined interiors. Big Blue, on the other hand, features gorgeous custom finishes in a variety of wood tones, with a bent-wood spiral staircase and beautiful butcher block counters laid in a chevron pattern. 

Kyle Becker of Indigo River Tiny Homes in Garland gave Rosy and Conrad a tour of Big Blue and Baby Blue, the two spec builds for sale. (Photo: Jo England/Staff)

When you talk about what’s beneath the really fabulous finishes, you’ll be impressed, too. The company uses an innovative construction method using dense Styrofoam encased between layers of dense fiberglass. It’s durable, light, and has an outstanding insulation — which means you have to run your air conditioning less. It’s just one of the creative features Indigo River Tiny Homes sport, making them well-suited for either year-round occupation or as a lakeside weekend getaway spot. 

(more…)

If you’ve looked to soften the blow of your property tax bill by renting out your back house or guest house, you may chafe under the rules which Dallas Development Code restricts Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. But with a dearth of affordable rentals, more residents are keen to offer an option that wasn’t previously available. 

That’s why the City Plan Commission will review amendments to chapters 51 and 51A of the Dallas Development Code to allow ADUs and create more workable rules so that homeowners and renters can meet in the middle and close the housing gap. The draft ordinance allowing ADUs will go in front of the commission Thursday, June 22. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

(more…)

 airbnb dadaAirbnb’s meteoric growth has shaken the hospitality industry, and is making homeowners mighty nervous about who their next-door neighbors might suddenly be. There have been regulatory fights to leash the short term rental site from New York to Barcelona.
5800 Palo Pinto guest house

District 14’s Philip Kingston is proposing a change to city ordinances that will allow the construction and rental of guest houses like this one at 5800 Palo Pinto, as well as garage apartments. Some M Streets residents object.

Head over to Stonewall Jackson Elementary tonight at 6:30 tonight as Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston will be hosting an informational session regarding the recent proposal to allow homeowners to build and rent garage apartments and guest houses inside the district.

Right now, city code precludes the construction of a full-sized kitchen in an “accessory dwelling.” To add one constitutes a duplex — two separate residences on one lot — which is another zoning category entirely. Of course, we have heard that what constitutes a “full-sized kitchen” varies significantly depending on who you talk to at Dallas City Hall. But as more people choose to tear down homes in the M Streets and build new, the lure of rental income compels many property owners to go ahead and put an apartment on top of that detached garage while they’re at it.

Proponents of urbanization and say that in order to generate the density that will create the kind of critical mass for truly walkable neighborhoods, garage apartments and their more innocuous relative the “granny flat” will become a necessity. Plus, with property values soaring and tax assessments climbing in step, more people are being priced out of the M Streets. Building and renting a back house is a great way to generate income, helping people afford their homes and providing affordable rentals, all in one step.

Sounds simple, right?

(more…)

midcentury renovationmidcentury renovationI’ve known Rebecca Nolen since our high school days at Ursuline Academy of Dallas. Even back then, her design aesthetic was refined—she had the best-looking bedroom of anyone I knew. She also offered me Welsh rarebit as a snack when I came over to study one afternoon, far more sophisticated than the Little Debbie Star Crunch Cosmic Snacks I was used to eating after school.

The subsequent years only improved her taste, as evidenced by the discerning midcentury renovation of the Lake Highlands home she and her husband Richard bought in 2005.

“We had visited a number of houses we loved over the years—the Eames house in Los Angeles and a Neutra house in Palm Springs, especially—and those gave us a good idea of how we want to live,” said Richard. “The Eames house looks almost like a child’s toy from the outside with its red and blue panels, but it’s filled with treasures from Charles and Ray’s travels around the world. They really lived there; it wasn’t a sterile monument to design. That’s what we’re going for.”

When Rebecca and Richard purchased “the ranchette” in 2005, it was dated and drab, but with potential: corner lot on a quarter acre, 1,341 square feet, three bedrooms, and a big kitchen and backyard.

“Honestly, we only looked at about three houses, and this was the first one,” said Rebecca. “It had a lot of problems—it was pretty much a dump, with torn up carpeting, ratty wallpaper, broken fiberglass shower enclosures, and an HVAC system that was falling apart. But it was filled with light and the kitchen was enormous. Something about it felt right. And it didn’t have a popcorn ceiling, which still ranks among my worst nightmares.”

The work they’ve done over the years is nothing short of spectacular. They took a boring, blah house and added major midcentury personality, elegant style, and thoughtful design.

“We have neighbors who get what we’re doing and raise the bar themselves—there are some serious midcentury modern remodels that are giving us great ideas,” Rebecca said. “Our next-door neighbors even went midcentury modern last summer with an outdoor update. They bought oversized aluminum house numbers, replaced their brass lantern with a giant globe pendant, and used a quirky chartreuse paint color for their trim.”

(more…)

Exxir - Bishop Arts - Interior

Rendering of interior plazas of the Bishop Arts Village project   (Source bishoparts.com)

Update 12/16/16 from yesterday’s Plan Commission meeting: after much conversation, commissioners voted to hold the motion until the January 19th meeting. Neighbors will be meeting with Rob Baldwin, the developer’s zoning rep after the New Year to clarify recent changes to the zoning amendment request.

Arts Village, LLC (aka Exxir Capital, aka the Nazarian family) will be going before the Dallas City Plan Commission Board this week to amend the zoning for Planned Development District No. 830, just south of the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff.

Nazerian Subdistrict Map

In September, I reported on this zoning change request, and since then the developers have held at least one community meeting. Yet they failed to include two of the most important requests I heard at that meeting:

1) To word the 15,000-square-foot market use to prohibit one singular tenant, and …

2) To limit hotel and entertainment uses to the portion of the 11 acre site south of 9th Street, where these uses are currently planned to be built — away from the residential neighborhood north of 9th and surrounding the development site.

We must remember that in this PD, zoning change requests are not subject to a specific development plan. Once uses are allowed by right in an area, plans can change, even owners can change. And although the Nazerians have proven to have great ideas for this development, these changes effect the land use allowances for the indefinite future, regardless of who the owner is.

At Thursday’s meeting, their zoning request will include the changes listed below, to be applicable within this one new subdistrict which will cover the entire 11 acre site resting between Melba Street, Madison Street, 10th Street, and Bishop Ave.

(more…)