Two very different Oak Lawn projects hit CPC Thursday night
It’s difficult being (unpaid) on the City Plan Commission. It’s 9 p.m. and they broke for 10 minutes for a bite to eat before plowing through on another case. Following the lot replatting cases and a West Dallas mobile home park, two Oak Lawn Committee cases hit the horseshoe about the time most of you were solidly into Happy Hour.
The other difficulty must be the variety of cases you see in a given session – anything from a palace to a “solid waste disposal” project. It must be a roller coaster bouncing from the cool to the banal of city planning. In this case, the roller coaster included the well-liked 2727 Turtle Creek mixed use development and the contentious Lincoln Katy Trail project.
It’s also got to be frustrating when every protester seems to say, “I’m not opposed to development, but …”
Example of seven-story building construction and density options
A.G. Spanos has released a second, more thorough economic analysis of the feasibility of redeveloping Pink Wall parcels within the confines of the Preston Road and Northwest Highway Area Plan (PRNHAP). Spanos has a contingent contract to redevelop the Diplomat condos within PD-15 and has financed both viability studies. While Spanos has obvious motives, any economic data supplied is certainly more than the economic nothingness contained within the $350,000 PRNHAP study. How the city adopted that Santa’s lap of a plan, containing no financial underpinnings, still astounds.
You’ll recall that in October 2017, my rough calculations exposed the then 10-month old PRNHAP as economically bogus. That was followed up in January 2018 by Spanos’ first report developed by architects Looney Ricks Kiss that backed-up my findings. Namely that the recommendations contained within the PRNHAP study’s “Zone 4” are not viable to build. This latest study offers more detailed and dire details for the PD-15 area (download here).
To be clear, “not economically viable” means that a condo unit would sell for more money as a condo than as developable land. To sell under those conditions would equate to owners taking a loss on their home. In many cases it’s good when land is worth some fraction of a structure. It helps with neighborhood stabilization, curbing gentrification, etc.
When we “feel like just a number,” we’re really just reflecting our uniqueness being ignored. We’ve long known we’re just a number to taxing bodies like DCAD … albeit one with a dollar sign in front. But recently, I’ve found we’re a percentage, too.
In valuing property, DCAD calculates the total market value based on both land and “improvements” (structures). The combination of these numbers equals the total assessed value of a given property. All fine so far. A (land) + B (structures) = C (total market value)
But did you know that there’s a ratio used between land and improvement values? You likely think this means that land appreciates at roughly the same rate of structures. Partly. It also means that land should be equal to a certain percentage of the structure. And when the ratio gets out of whack, it’s adjusted. On the surface this too seems generally fine, provided you start with structure and land that fall within the ratio (and nothing changes).
At the end of the meeting, Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy thanked the committee members and audience for sticking with what may be viewed as a tedious process. She said it was like painting where 80 percent was preparation with the 20 percent at the end being when the magic happens.
Murphy was observer and host. The heavy lifting was handled by city staff from the Planning office.
The meeting kicked off with committee members being given an interesting task. They were shown four buildings of varying height and quality and asked to silently write down their gut thoughts on Post-It Notes and affix them to the wall. They were then asked to arrange them all by similar sentiment.
I’ll admit I was steeling myself for much more confrontational messages. Instead the responses were more considered. Albeit a pinch naive.
Three projects were reviewed at this month’s Oak Lawn Committee. One was a school addition, one was yet another apartment building, and the third was this looker of an office building. Since I feel pretty (oh so pretty?) tonight, I’m going to walk you through the looker first. That’s not to say the school isn’t nice, too … it’s just not this.
The sunlight falling on an area this size would power the USA.
No, it’s not April Fools’ Day, it’s the future.
When you look at the types of renewable power available – hydro, geothermic, wind, etc. – only one has the potential to completely supply the world’s energy needs — solar power. Did you know that harnessing just 0.02 percent of the solar energy that reaches the Earth would power the world? The map above shows how much surface area is required to power the entire U.S. using solar power.
Like a bad boyfriend, we’ve heard solar’s unmet promises for decades. But unlike that boyfriend, solar has worked to meet those promises. It’s cheaper, thinner, less obtrusive and now, transparent.
As you can imagine, one of the impediments of traditional solar is the space it requires coupled with its typical unattractive industrial appearance. Tesla has created slim-profile solar panels and most recently solar shingles that blend into residential rooftops. These types of rooftop solar collectors have the ability to fulfill a home’s electrical needs. But what about multi-story residential or commercial?
The luxurious kitchen of the future?
Realtors will tell you that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. What happens if there is no kitchen? Investment bank UBS recently issued an investment note to customers titled, “The End of the Kitchen?” Not being a UBS-caliber customer, I’ve only been able to glean snippets from the private report from across the internet.
In a nutshell, UBS is taking note of the fast rise in food delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, and yet to enter the US, Deliveroo and Foodora. The report postulates what happens to the food distribution and preparation market as food delivery grows in popularity. It’s all part of the larger trend of people outsourcing tedious tasks to those willing to do them for pennies.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Coonley House: Second Floor Living Room (Main House)
Exploring the history of a 100-year-old house is interesting. Exploring the history of a 105-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright structure leaves “interesting” in the rearview mirror. To begin, Avery Coonley and Queene Ferry-Coonley were both heirs to fortunes, but it was Mrs. Coonley who purchased the 10-acre parcel in Riverside, Illinois, and engaged Wright as architect. Mr. Coonley was said to have been interested in a Georgian-Colonial house. That the estate is called the Avery Coonley House, instead of the Queene Coonley House, reflects the woman’s subordinate role of the era.
The house is actually an estate comprising several buildings totaling over 9,000 square feet. Flashing forward for a second, it’s important to understand that in 1952 the property was in the crosshairs of developer Arnold Skow who wanted to demolish the property and put up 14 ranch homes. A deal was reached to split the main residence in half with a firewall and sell off the gardener’s cottage, stable and playhouse as separate residences. Compared to Wright’s brilliance, the resulting ranch homes have all the majesty of a Taco Bell next to Versailles (one is currently for sale).
Two of Wright’s original compound are currently on the market. To see more, head over to SecondShelters.com.