Alliance’s new tower configuration with north-south orientation (my pick).

Often developers show up to the Oak Lawn Committee looking for approval for a proposed project before hitting Dallas’ City Plan Commission and council.  But sometimes they just need a little help.  Last night’s OLC meeting was a little of both.

The first of three cases revolved around a project that had been blessed a while ago, but that now that it was under construction they uncovered a design boo-boo. They need to change it, but the original plan required the creation of a sub-district within PD-193 and the city says these things can’t be changed within two years of being granted. So they need a waiver. Nothing really for the OLC to do, but this property owner didn’t want the OLC to think they’d pulled a fast one. Courtesy. We like it.

The second case was a poor young soul who didn’t have his code, PD, and developer-speak down pat. His firm (who knew better how to approach the OLC) is considering purchasing a building with no ground floor.  Yes, no ground floor.  There’s a small elevator lobby and the rest is given away to parking under the bulk of the building above.  He wants to operate some hair salons on the second floor but the PD-193 documents say salons are a ground-floor usage … but he literally doesn’t have a ground floor.  So they offered, sometimes terse, suggestions and thoughts on how he could proceed.  I say terse because it’s one thing to be new — it’s another thing when your employer knows better and sent you to slaughter anyway.

The third case was what the graphic is all about.  You may recall the two prior OLC meetings where this project on Armstrong and Cole from Alliance Residential was presented (here, here).  It was a thuddingly dense building with 340 apartments in a combined five- and seven- story design.  The lot was crowded and crammed with what appeared to be wall-to-wall units.

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Hillwood’s 3001 Turtle Creek

In April, Hillwood presented their conceptual renderings to the Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) for a 16-story office building on the empty corner of Cedar Springs and Turtle Creek.  You know the lot … the one you’ve been wondering why nothing had been built on it for over 30 years. Nods and smiles turned to WTF guffaws when out popped the desire for a helipad on the roof.  Ross Perot Jr.’s LA buddies all had one, so why shouldn’t he? Then days later there was an announcement about Perot bringing Dallas to the test-market table for Uber’s Elevate program for flying taxis.  Regardless of whether these two events were connected by more than the hours that separated them, Hillwood has dropped the helipad from the designs they’re hoping to present at the Sept. 7 City Plan Commission meeting.

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In Part One, I explained how I’d put my thoughts into an envelope to be opened once the PD-15 process was complete. However, my surprise resignation opened the envelope to share now.  In that first column, I faced the hard truth of the economic viability of redevelopment and how the buildings that might be built within zoning were not profitable for buyers or sellers. I also touched on the aging demographic the area attracts and their less likely bent towards renovation and the ability to play catchup on years of deferred maintenance in some complexes. Finally, I wrote about how in real dollars, the past 15 years have been a wash (punctuated by Recession-driven ups and downs). If you missed Part One, catch up here.

The overall endpoint being that if the area wants to attract new buyers for the long-term (not just because Dallas is skint of housing), who have the money and willpower to uplift the area, PD-15 is the last hope.

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In today’s D Frontburner blog, I traced the trail of Angela Hunt’s transition from District 14’s city council advocate battling inappropriate development in Oak Lawn to being an emissary for developers.  Here, I want to explore the Lincoln Katy Trail project where Hunt is representing Lincoln Property. (Click here for Frontburner article)

It’s important to note that Hunt is now a private citizen and has the right to secure work however she pleases.  Unlike many technology firms, government doesn’t use non-compete agreements.  Hunt herself says, “I am no longer on the Dallas City Council. I am not an elected official, I don’t have a constituency, and I no longer decide zoning cases. I am a private citizen representing developers and neighborhoods in zoning cases.”

Taking a step back, the owners of The Vine townhomes have been battling developers seeking to radically upzone two lots neighboring their complex.  Gables’ plans for the Carlisle on The Katy complex were nixed by city hall in 2007, Exxir reignited in 2015. The Turtle Creek Terrace lot began with a similar campaign by Lennar, they gave up, and now Lincoln Property holds the option.

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