HH Aerial Preston Center

Low income housing: it’s a real problem. How do you find affordable housing for people who earn little or no income in a period of real estate value growth?  We love gentrification because it leads to higher home values and make us richer — homeowners, investors. As our property values go up, the city collects more from us in property taxes. And we spend more, feel more confident. We sit and fan ourselves cool on our back porches, sipping margaritas, feeling pretty secure knowing our house values are not just secure but rising. It’s a good feeling, like knowing you’ve got a couple thousand in the bank. Studies show that consumers spend more when they know the values of their real estate are tilting upwards — they spend less and feel poor when values plummet.

All good for the $67,000 a year plus owner, but where do we build homes for poor people earning less than that once they are shushed out? Some liberals tend to think it’s great to mix up the pot, like school busing. Last week Schutze, who I usually like because he has a great BS detector when it comes to Dallas City politics, rattled off a crazy column about fair housing rules the Obama administration announced mid-week to repair the 1968 Fair Housing Law’s “unfulfilled promise and promote the kind of racially integrated neighborhoods that have long eluded deeply segregated cities.”

Schutze took aim at The Park Cities to blonde-bash (I pay good money for my blonde, thank you) and scream about the need to get more poor children into “areas of opportunity”: (more…)

Preston Center Task Force Map

The Task Force’s 1,630 acre charge

As CandysDirt.com readers (and likely most all of Dallas) know, Councilwoman Jennifer Gates formed a task force to hire a consultant to tell them how bad traffic and parking are in the Preston Road and Northwest Highway area. Granted the scope of the project is much larger (see map), but this intersection is where the action will be. I just heard today that the consultant has been selected who will deliver suggested solutions for their $350,000 fee.

During the last task force meeting on April 27, it was revealed that they were about $100,000 short and seeking donations from concerned area citizens and businesses needing a tax write-off. The other $250,000 is being fronted by North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTOG).

NCTOG is a voluntary coalition formed from local government representatives from the 16 counties surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth and includes 235 members. NCTOG is a political subdivision formed by the State of Texas in 1966. NCTOG’s mission seems to be to a shared resource to help municipal planning in the region (judging from current job vacancies, traffic management is a large part). Unfortunately their reports and recommendations carry no force so no matter how smart (and right) they are, local governments can ultimately do whatever they want. Funding comes from member dues and local, state and federal government agencies.

The initial data will take 12-18 months to gather and present to the task force. I then easily foresee another 6-12 months of digesting and bandying around various scenarios before crafting a final document to present to the City Council. Or in other words, about two years. Then the work begins to beg, borrow and curry favor to implement whatever recommendations have made it that far. Best guess for seeing a first shovel hit the ground? At least four years from now … if at all.

If at All

  • “If at all” because if Dallas and University Park City Councils are not even supportive enough to fund the study, then surely they’re not anxiously waiting, wallet outstretched, to unleash the millions needed to actually better the area, are they?
  • “If at all” because, as pointed out by Morning News blogger Robert Wilonsky, today’s fracas is a near word-for-word repeat from 1976 which sought (unsuccessfully) to back-zone properties to three stories in an effort to curb development and traffic.
  • “If at all” because two later studies in 1986 and 1989 received little/no action or funding from the city.
  • “If at all” because Mayor Mike Rawlins, faced with overflowing property tax coffers, would rather cut taxes than fix crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructure that’s admittedly underfunded by the Texas Transportation Commission by $2-billion annually in the NCTOG area (I hate taxes too, but I hate crappy roads more).

I think the City Council is more likely to thank the task force for their work before ushering them out with a case of Rice-a-Roni and a year’s supply of Tic Tacs. The anti-development crowd knows the game being played is to stall and starve developers. The death of 1,000 City Council postponements.

Begun in 2014, we will spend over four years pretending this is a difficult and time consuming project. It’s not. In fact, I spent a few hours over a weekend and crafted the poor-man’s Preston Center Traffic and Parking Plan. I have mailed a copy to each member of the city council so that, years from now, I’ll have my big, fat, “I told you so” moment.

Granted my plan is more concise and isn’t full of the pretty sketches of happy, dog-walking models on tree-lined, car-less streets – I’m not good with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or AutoCAD.  But don’t be fooled, these kinds of images are all just a marketing “show” put on for the tourists.

But the same recommendations on how to fix traffic and parking will be there. Why am I so sure? Because the area surrounding Northwest Highway and Preston Road is finite and so are the solutions. It’s the simple application of math coupled with a little research on traffic management theory. After all, we’re talking physical roadways here, not a TARDIS.

Jon Anderson’s Traffic Plan for Preston Center

Jump for more details.
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Wentowood ext

Update 11:00 p.m.: so I spoke to Julie P, and she gave me the scoop. Seems she put the house in Facebook Friends, which is how our friends at Busted Coverage must have found out. Julie has been busy with a new wee one! Also the Horcoffs have a baby, too, and wanted to get over to their summer home to free Wentwood for showings. Coats Homes is the builder, and the master is upstairs, plus three bedrooms, fifth bedroom or gameroom on the third level.

Talk about getting out of Dodge as fast as you can. The other thing I find weird about this is that the listing agent, Julie Provenzano, has the home all over Zillow but NOT in MLS, well not yet, at least. Is this the new norm? Thanks to the folks at Busted Coverage for this alert, and then to my good LA Times pal Neal Leitereg for the heads up! Yes, Neal, it does look just like Jose Calderone’s pad, methinks it’s the same builder and designer.

3417 Villanova ext

3417 Villanova

3417 Villanova living

3417 Villanova

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Yes Sky bridge

Yes, there are are stickers. Signs to follow I’m sure.

No Sky-BridgeI have a Support Group I now attend every Wednesday around noon, thus I missed half the debate on the proposed sky-bridge that Crow Holdings wants to build in Preston Center in order to put a grocer in the second floor of the Preston Center Pavilion building.

Thank God for that Support Group: I will bet that half the City Council would have rather been there with me than where they were. It was the final meeting of the term, the agenda was bursting at the seams, and for once, I think Dallas City Council members earned their keep. (more…)

Preston center skybridge

Laura Miller wrote a note to homeowners inside the Athena, asking them to speak out against Crow Holdings’ proposed Preston Center sky bridge at the June 17 Dallas City Council meeting.

Midday Monday, residents in my high-rise received a double-forwarded note containing a letter I later found out was written by former mayor Laura Miller. The letter (after the jump) makes the case for opposing the sky bridge at Preston Center.

Since moving to Preston Hollow, I’ve noticed that any whiff of development is met with one-sided opposition. I’ve never seen any discussion or debate on whatever proposal is at hand. If it’s development, the knee-jerk seems to be to oppose it without giving the prospect an airing. I like air.

As I did with the latest Transwestern proposal for their much-diminished development on Preston and Northwest highway, I responded to the letter to provide counterbalance to the pointedly negative position.

Anyway, Miller responded to my note and in turn I replied back. You can read the exchanges that were sent to those 137 residents in the email exchange after the jump.

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HH Aerial Preston Center

Monday evening saw the latest installment of Councilwoman Jennifer Gates’ Preston Road and Northwest Highway Task Force Meetings. It renewed my belief that the only thing missing from Texas politics are footlights. Molly would have been in hog heaven (versus the real one she’s in now).

I’d describe many of the attendees as being Republican red on the outside and Democrat blue on the inside. It never ceases to amaze me the number of Republicans whose conservatism decreases the closer an idea or action gets to them and/or their home. Let’s call them NIMBY Republicans.

NIMBY Republicans are often seen shouting drill baby drill, big business, small government, no regulation … until it effects them. At which point the placards shoot up from the sweater-on-the-shoulder set. Of course, the kerfuffle surrounding the Preston Road and Northwest Highway intersection is a perfect example.

MarkCubanProperties-thumb-565x321.jpg aerial

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New Transwestern rendering Preston Rd

Proposed luxury apartments at Preston & Northwest Highway, northeastern view

Surely you recall last year’s Behind the Pink Wall ordeals where Transwestern tried to buy out  a group of homeowners — Town House Row, Preston Center Apartments — to build luxury apartments on a glorious slab of real estate dirt at the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road? Recall how homeowners hired P. Michael Jung to fight this? Things got a little political when the City Councilwoman for the neighborhood, Jennifer Staubach Gates, had to recuse herself because her husband works for Jone Lang LaSalle, who were involved, but Lee Kleinman stepped in for her.

Well, Transwestern is back, but this time it’s a different approach. After many months, meetings and media coverage, Transwestern has listened to the neighborhood. And is listening still: I’m told the first call Mark Culwell made was to Ashley Parks, who lives at the intersection of Del Norte and Preston Road. They still want to re-develop the property, but they have scaled their plans way down after getting neighborhood input on what they want. Transwestern is now asking for ONE ZONING CHANGE on about HALF the property.

Honestly, if I link to all the stories we wrote on this topic, this post would be nothing but links. The owners of Town House Row, a cluster of 12 1950’s era townhomes, consolidated to market themselves to a developer. Their broker found an interested buyer in Transwestern, who then reached out to the owner of the Preston Center Apartments on the corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway, and cobbled the final deal together. Word was Transwestern was paying top dollar for the dirt, almost a million per townhome, most of which are on DCAD books for about $380K.  (more…)

Here you can see what the proposed skybridge looks like at Preston Center Pavilion.

Want this corner to be a 50,000 square foot supermarket?

Eric Nicholson over at The Dallas Observer had a funny, tongue-in-cheek column yesterday about the skybridge battle for Preston Center. Which by the way just got unanimous approval TODAY for all four variances from the Dallas Board of Adjustment. I think the point was to poke fun at a U.S.D.A. map which purportedly shows that Preston Hollow has “low access” to supermarkets and hence healthful foods. That would mean that former Mayor Laura Miller lacks this access and has certainly suffered over there on Dentwood. I know we sure suffered when we were on Park. Typical government bureaucracy, the maps do not take into account that parts of Preston Hollow consist of large, affluent estates with one home per acre. Or, in the case of Tom Hicks, one home per 25.25 acres. (more…)