Dallas City Council chambers were not as packed as expected on Sept. 11, 2019, as PD-15 came up on the agenda.

  • Dallas City Council unanimously passed city staff’s plan for PD-15, which compromised on height, topping out at 240 feet.
  • Some small changes were made to the plan.

The general wisdom is that any city council vote requiring a supermajority due to opposition will be a nail-biter. And while certainly many a nail was chewed to the quick, it was all for naught. After blissfully little speech-a-fying on both sides, Dallas City Council voted unanimously to pass city staff’s sorta plan for 240-foot heights on Northwest Highway – instead of the full cherry-on-top 310-foot heights Plan Commission had passed one vote shy of unanimously.

Will this result in affordable housing? Unlikely. And that’s a pity.

Councilmember Jennifer Gates listed a slew of minor tinkers to the staff recommendation that I’ll have to get to later (I can’t write as fast as she can rattle off). But generally, it’s 240-feet across Northwest Highway and 96-feet behind. Assuming a 10-foot ceiling height, that’s essentially 21-stories and eight-stories.

While some in the neighborhood might say it’s too much, I will say it’s a heck of a lot less than was proposed decades ago. And it’s a bit sad to live in a future that’s less bold than yesterday.

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The morning after the Preston Place fire, the extent of the damage was revealed to be catastrophic.

By Kevin McMahon
Guest Contributor

Recently, guest writer Barbara Dewberry expressed her opposition to the City Plan Commission’s proposal for updated zoning for PD-15. I would like the opportunity to offer a counterpoint and speak to the merits of the proposal. But first, I should state something up front some may consider relevant.

I am a former resident of Preston Place.

I lived there about four years. Our unit was the first home purchase my wife and I made, and we undertook a major renovation when we moved in, doing much of the work ourselves on nights and weekends. We aren’t real estate flippers. We had no intention of buying and selling and moving on to the next project. Instead, we put a lot of care and detail into our unit because we planned to call it home for many years. And then one Friday night, we watched with our then-5-year-old son as a fire indifferently consumed all that hard work.

Now two and a half years later, I see another destructive force at work in the neighborhood. It takes the form of hyperbole and fear of change which form the basis of much of the opposition to CPC’s proposal. Ms. Dewberry’s arguments are this hyperbole at work. (more…)

preston center

PD-15 Map

In 1963, the RCA Victor Company, which manufactured televisions, ran an advertising campaign with the slogan “The Gift That Keeps On Giving.” The neighborhood adjacent to Preston Center —PD-15, where one might actually still find an RCA Victor TV today, is a lot like that old ad.

PD-15 is the neighborhood behind the Pink Wall at Northwest Highway and Preston Road where a condo fire almost three years ago killed one resident and left hundreds homeless (not to mention a charred hulk of concrete over a basement parking garage).  

I received word on Sunday that CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development), non-profit association that is not happy with the way zoning changes proposed for PD-15,  has hired former WFAA investigative reporter and congressional-candidate-turned-media-consultant Brett Shipp as their spokesperson. Or, as Brett told me, “to fight out of control, irresponsible development” at Preston Place.

CARD says it is a “grass-roots force to stop development change,” claiming Dallas City Hall is not listening. As always, I add this disclaimer: I own a unit in this area, and I do have a dog in this hunt. That is one reason why our columnist, Jon Anderson, who recently sold a unit at The Athena, has been covering so much of this case from the days when Transwestern first bought Townhouse Row and an apartment complex on the very corner of Preston and Northwest Highway.

Brett Shipp told me Sunday he is taking on the cause and is planning a presser. And there’s more…

Preston Place fire, where the fire eventually spread to the chimney stack and stairwell left of the blaze.

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Dallas

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

With a mayoral and city council election still rather close in the rearview mirror, a recent WalletHub study into the best and worst run cities in the country — and where Dallas falls on that list — highlights some of the issues that drove at least a few people to the polls twice.

The study, which was released earlier this month, sought to measure the effectiveness of local leadership by focusing on how efficiently a city was run.

“In other words, we can learn how well city officials manage and spend public funds by comparing the quality of services residents receive against the city’s total budget,” the report explained.

WalletHub compared 150 of the largest U.S. cities, constructing a “quality of services” score comprised of 37 benchmarks grouped into six service categories, which were then measured against the city’s per-capita budget.

Source: WalletHub

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Dallas City Councilman Kevin Felder surrendered Tuesday to felony charges stemming from an alleged scooter accident he is accused of fleeing from — and if convicted, those charges may mean more than a felony record.

Felder, who represents District 7, has been accused of fleeing the scene of an accident where he allegedly hit someone traveling by scooter in South Dallas.

Councilman Felder and his attorney, Pete Schulte, vehemently deny the charges. (more…)

electionsThe cutoff to file to run for the Dallas city council, Dallas mayor, and Dallas ISD trustee seats open was 5 p.m. Feb. 15, and with 64 people total filing paperwork for the May elections, there are two things we can tell you for certain: Some races will likely resemble the Thunderdome, and you’ll be needing to head to the polls twice, because some of these races will undoubtedly land in a runoff.

So who’s running? We’re providing a list below. Bear in mind this list is in alphabetical order, not the order they will appear on the ballot, because that is done by drawing and will happen in a few days.

The mayoral race has drawn 12 candidates — real estate developer Mike Ablon, Oak Cliff businessman Albert Black, Dallas city council member Scott Griggs, State Rep. Eric Johnson, former Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy, philanthropist Lynn McBee, civic leader Regina Montoya, Dallas resident, Heriberto Ortiz, Dallas resident Miguel Patino, environmentalist Stephen Smith, Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis, and former state representative Jason Villalba. Ortiz, Patino, and Smith’s petition signatures have not been qualified at press time.

And Jon gave us a sneak preview of the surprise filing of Laura Miller, who will challenge incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates for the District 13 seat, we now know who the rest of the names on area ballots will be, too. Ready? Let’s jump. (more…)

By Cynthia Weatherall
Special Contributor

I attended Wednesday’s City Council meeting when the council was briefed on proposed homeless strategies by Monica Hardman, the managing director of the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions. This was the fiery meeting where the “Track 2” proposal to transport the homeless across the city stirred citizens to action as few topics can do — unless it comes to protecting your home. Thankfully, the proposed strategy, which would have established temporary “roving” shelters for homeless people at recreation centers, was roundly dismissed, not only by most city council members, but by the directors of current shelters.

That was a relief. But I attended the briefing and the Q and A, and I’m concerned by what hasn’t been widely reported about various OTHER proposals.

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Rehabilitation of the historic Knights of Pythias building in Deep Ellum is already underway, but developers are asking the City of Dallas to provide tax incentives to make the project more affordable. (Courtesy Photo)

For as long as I can remember, the Knights of Pythias building was a large painted gray mass of Beaux Arts architecture, hulking on the west end of Deep Ellum, boarded up and idle. When the historic rehabilitation began, it was wonderful to see the light gray paint give way to the gorgeous brick and stone underneath, unveiling the true character of this building. 
 
Of course, rehabilitation of historic structures isn’t cheap, and in the fight to maintain Dallas’ character, one of the best tools that cities have at their disposal are historic preservation tax exemptions and credits. While we bemoan the rash of teardowns and our city’s toothless measures to stay their razings, the key is making rehabilitation more economically viable than destroying the historic fabric of our city’s built environment. 
 
That’s why Preservation Dallas has put out the call to support tax exemption for the Knights of Pythias developers, Westdale Properties.
 

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