Lincoln’s same old-same old project. Look closely to see indented garage entrance.

I wonder if this project should be renamed Beetlejuice. It seems like Lincoln believes that by showing the same unpopular plan over and over, neighborhood approval will suddenly appear. Lincoln representative Angela Hunt whizzed through an incomplete deck of slides in record time.  I say incomplete because one Oak Lawn Committee member had the original presentation from many moons ago and wondered where all the pages had gone … you know, the detail.  Hunt said she left those pages out for brevity.

It was an excuse echoed by Lincoln’s Jeff Courtwright.  In this case he was responding to a query about why Lincoln had ignored the very specific data requested months ago concerning how shade would fall across neighboring buildings.  This time Courtwright said he made the decision not to provide what was asked for but instead give them only what he wanted.  You’ll recall, I called Lincoln out for ignoring requests, essentially disrespecting the neighbors.  Of course the reason it was ignored was because the result was bad.  I’ll even go out on a limb and say some computer whiz ran the data and saw it was bad, so it was buried.

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Third time is a charm I suppose.  Today’s city council vote wasn’t unanimous, but one vote shy didn’t matter.  I will give council member Philip Kingston credit for finally bringing it home.  After all the pros and cons were done he called the compromise a “no brainer” and urged approval.  I’ve certainly given him enough grief for diddling around with this and giving false hope to those wanting to stop it … and I stand by that.

As I’ve said to friends in recent days, it’s like you want to break-up with your boyfriend. Is it better to do that the day before Valentine’s Day or the day after? They’re hurt either way, but “after” they know they were a pity-date and the roses a consolation prize. So yeah, I think he could have brought this ship into the harbor quicker and spared some of that false hope.

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Last night, city council member Philip Kingston spoke at The Mansion in an attempt to bring clarity to the Toll Brothers project.  Unfortunately, after a good start, he failed to seal the deal.  Kingston presented the big picture on the project – namely that Toll Brothers is completely within their rights to build a high-rise that’s uglier, boxier, more dense, with worse parking, and that looks terrible on the street.  In fact Toll Brothers delivered a letter to Kingston and the plot sellers stating that they have every intention of building the worse-in-every-way plan should this better-in-every-way plan be shot down at city council.

Kingston’s question to the audience was simple and rational.  Essentially, given the two alternatives, why should he support the worse “by right” plan? “By right” does what it says on the tin; no neighborhood or city involvement period. It’s a simple enough question. But for people for whom the only answer was “neither,” that question was rationally unanswerable.  “Neither” isn’t an option, something rich folks ain’t used to hearing.

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The fate of the proposed Toll Brothers high-rise in Oak Lawn remains stalled for another month. A bus load of Plaza residents showed up to voice their concerns without actually admitting their issue is view blockage and that the rest was just a smoke screen.  Several gave themselves away in saying that a midrise would be better (but then complained about other midrises in the area). So, why exactly would a midrise with essentially the same number of units be better than a high-rise?

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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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Downzone 1

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

In Macbeth, Shakespeare’s witches were casting a spell to double Macbeth’s toil and trouble.  It seems some Oak Lawn residents are looking to double developers’ trouble by asking the city Plan Commission to downzone parts of Oak Lawn covered by PD-193.  I’ve written about these proposed developments here, here and here.

I’ve been sent emails dating back to April 2016 from a townhome owner diagonally across from the proposed Toll Brothers apartment building on lots at the southwest-ish corner of Welborn and Congress. Those lots are currently occupied by aging three-story structures but are pretty well surrounded by mostly 1990s or newer townhouses.

The April emails have some of the propaganda, bombast and petitions typical of protesters … laced with claims the other side says are false. In this of all years you should know this story cold.  But I will say even in my lay capacity, the down-zoners do seem to inflate. Here’s just one example …

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Toll Brothers latest proposal for Welborn and Congress

Toll Brothers latest proposal for Welborn and Congress

On Tuesday night I attended my first Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) meeting.  For those unaware, the OLC was founded in 1982 as the neighborhood forum to guide development, maintain the area’s vibe, and generally improve the area.  Their “yea” or “nay” offers weight to Plan Commission’s deliberations on new projects seeking zoning changes.

OLC Map SM

The OLC’s coverage area resembles a gerrymandered voting district that spans City Council Districts 2 and 14, covering 15 square miles. The main boundaries are Woodall Rodgers, Harry Hines, Inwood, Highland Park and Central Expwy. Basically encompassing Oak Lawn, Uptown and West Village.

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