Were the architects colluding with the Russians on this design?

Are you a good news first kind of person, or do you want the needle before the lollipop?  Heck, I’m jetlagged and feeling woozy, so let’s go with the needle. (From the picture above, you guessed that, right?)  

At last night’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting, there were a trio of projects presented by Masterplan for various clients.  One client appeared to have not gotten the memo and showed up, shall we say, inappropriately attired.

You know what I mean.  You send invitations for an evening boat ride with big letters, “slacks, rubber-sole shoes, and bring a coat because it gets chilly when the sun goes down.” And invariably, someone shows up in 6-inch stilettos, a mini-skirt, and a tube top, who an hour and chattering teeth later, scams a coat from some chivalrous doofus.

The proposal for an apartment building at McKinney and Hester avenues (north of Knox Street) was full-on heels, skirt, and bare midriff, however the OLC didn’t offer Masterplan’s Dallas Cothrum a coat. And in truth, he knew it would be cold. This wasn’t his first cruise on the lake.

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Yesterday’s Dallas City Council meeting saw Toll Brothers present their project that has wound its way for 18 months through the Oak Lawn Committee, an Oak Lawn Committee sub-committee, and back to the Oak Lawn Committee before last month being unanimously passed by City Plan Commission.

Throughout, we’ve seen various arguments against the project thrown at the wall only to slide off with a splat from either a lack of evidence or contradictory statements and actions.

Given that so little opposition showed up at Plan Commission and even fewer at yesterday’s council meeting, it seemed to be a fait acompli.

Nope.

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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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After a session going well past 5 p.m. last Thursday, the City Plan Commission finally heard the case for Toll Brothers’ desired residential high-rise at the corner of Welborn Street and Congress Avenue. In the end, there were fewer fireworks than most expected.

Dallas Cothrum from Masterplan set out Toll Brothers’ case. In a nutshell, it was “here’s the bad high-rise we could build within zoning” … “here’s what a shorter, equally dense building looks like” … “here’s the better high-rise resulting from work with the neighborhood and Oak Lawn Committee.”  In numbers, they could have built over 400 units within zoning, now they’re wanting 271 units.

And as is the CPC way, the opposition spoke first …

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Oak Lawn Map 3 SM

After The Recession pause, we all know real estate has boomed.  In older neighborhoods south of Northwest Highway, the boom has brought gentrification to once-affordable neighborhoods.  This isn’t surprising, as these areas are up-luxed and densified. A few years ago, noting your address was “near Harry Hines” was not considered polite conversation. That’s swiftly changing.

In the run-up to The Recession, many a developer assembled larger tracts of properties in Oak Lawn, west of the Dallas North Tollway, by stringing together single-family lots or by purchasing apartment buildings.  The plans were for the same townhouse developments seen on other parts of Oak Lawn. Depending on timing, the lots may have or may not have been cleared.

Before disaster struck, Perry Homes had built a series of brick façade townhomes on Knight and Sylvester, between the tollway and Harry Hines.  They took quite a while to sell. Others tried with cheaper clapboard models a block over on Throckmorton. They too took a while to sell.

Today the area — north of Oak Lawn Avenue and between Harry Hines and the Tollway — has returned to new development.

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Source: Uber/Handout

Source: Uber/Handout

I read yesterday about Uber’s Elevate conference (flying taxis) and admit that while Dallas was mentioned, complete lack of interest didn’t get me to read very far.  But a CandysDirt.com reader forwarded me the story and mentioned Hillwood, so I read more.

What was announced was a plan to have electric air taxis in Dubai and Dallas by 2020. The Dallas connection is being supported by Ross Perot Jr. and his Hillwood development.  Not two weeks ago, Hillwood representatives were in front of the Oak Lawn Committee with an update on their plans for 3001 Turtle Creek (corner of Cedar Springs and Turtle Creek).  Included was what seemed to be an embarrassing afterthought of a helipad.  It was a giant eye-roll for the room.

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Hillwood's proposed 3001 Turtle Creek project

Hillwood’s proposed 3001 Turtle Creek project

Tuesday night’s Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) meeting might not have had armed police in attendance, but there were some interesting goings on.  The two worth chatting about were Hillwood’s evolving plans for 3001 Turtle Creek (corner of Turtle Creek and Cedar Springs) and a proposed Starbucks at Oak Lawn and Congress (southeast-ish corner). I call 3001 Turtle Creek “evolving” because when asked when they wanted to break ground, the reply was, “when we get a tenant.”

But, since I know my readers, let’s start with a soupçon of hypocrisy … Starbucks … and end with a humorously gutsy ask … from Hillwood.

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Area Downzoners Targeting

Area Downzoners Targeting

Last week, a group calling themselves “Stop the Downzone” sent out a packet of information that I was unknowingly part of.  It included a pair of articles I wrote … Teixeira Duarte’s move to build a by-right plan on their Dickason and Hood plots and the prior piece written about the downzoning campaign. I am not aligned with either side of this issue.

However …

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