Will the city stop playing politics and do what’s right to help the Pink Wall’s PD-15 get the update it deserves?
Beginning in April 2018, city staff ran the Authorized Hearing process working with the Pink Wall’s PD-15 committee. The Authorized Hearing process, whereby the city oversees a community response to zoning changes, was kicked off because the original 2017 neighborhood committee stalemated. That stalemate can be blamed on the intractable NIMBYism of the Athena and Preston Tower (catch-up on last meeting here). The Authorized Hearing ended in a similar stalemate. At that point, November 2018, city staff was asked by council member Jennifer Gates to write the changes they’d propose to make to update the decades-old PD-15.
Of course, the “N” in NIMBY stands for “Not” and that pretty much summed up the towers’ response.
If traffic and density are supposedly the issues most feared by PD-15 development, we need an accurate measuring stick to insert reality into the discussion. The coming traffic study will do that, but …
In the fullness of time, I started to think about one of the tidbits from last week’s PD-15 meeting with City Plan Commission. As I reported, the chief opposition speaker was Carla Percival-Young, an architect with Alabama-based GMC and an Athena resident. She was asked if a coming traffic study revealed negligible effects on the neighborhood, would the opposition have a re-think. The answer was no because they disagreed with every aspect of the proposed updated PD-15 draft. Later she was asked what she thought was a fair number of units per acre. After hesitation, she replied 60 units per acre compared to the draft’s recommendation of 90 units per acre – 30 units less per acre.
Development, specifically the Pink Wall’s PD-15 and Saint Michael and All Angels’ plans for Frederick Square, are the crux of the District 13 city council race between incumbent Jennifer Gates and former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. Sure, there are other nitpicks that include the Preston Center garage swizzled in, but that’s just a sideshow.
On April 18, after two years and two committees of dead-end meetings, the city’s recommendation for PD-15 rolls into City Plan Commission. The towers have arranged buses to take their protestors to City Hall (“Please bring a sack lunch”). What are the possible outcomes?
Clairvoyance can be a terrible burden. Thankfully, it didn’t take any special powers to foresee Lincoln Property Company returning to the Oak Lawn Committee for their Lincoln Katy Trail project. After seeing the reactions of City Plan Commissioners on Sept. 22 to Lincoln’s plan to skip a re-blessing by the Oak Lawn Committee to their very different plan, I saw it as a foregone conclusion.
Had Plan Commission passed the project without renewed OLC support, it would have been precedent setting. I spoke with a few OLC old-timers and the only time any of them can remember that happening was when Victory was taking shape with the American Airline Center’s birth back in the 1990s. I was told that while OLC had a seat at the table, they were largely ignored as the area’s plan was being pushed with mayoral support.
I think we can all agree that the OLC’s success in managing Oak Lawn development has resulted in a lot better neighborhood than Victory. In fact, Victory got top honors as a failure in D Magazine’s recent “Dallas and The New Urbanism” special edition with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science called out separately for its poor streetscape, saying it makes “Field Street a miserable place to walk.”
Of course, what would this project be without arrogance?