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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I’ve written about new developments in the Oak Lawn and Preston Hollow areas for a few years. Many of you have read about the PD-15 antics with the same hoary relish you watch a reality show. But as Dallas grows, and development reaches into more neighborhoods, there are lessons to be learned once you cut through the caustic tomfoolery.

By-Right vs. Zoning Cases

There are two kinds of developments – by-right and those requiring a zoning case. In a by-right situation, there’s not a lot you can do, it’s as it says on the tin, by right. A building permit is filed and they’re off to the races.

Construction requiring a zoning case is where the action is at. Whether large or small, any variance to a property’s underlying zoning requires the approval of that exception. Those cases are filed at City Hall and are then publicized in the immediate neighborhood – typically within 500 feet of the edges of the property filing the case. Those cases are taken up by and require approval from the City Plan Commission and the City Council. Between all that is the community wooing.

And if you’re going to be wooed by developers, there are some things you should know.

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By Barbara Dewberry
Guest Contributor
 
Last week in a CandysDirt.com column, Jon Anderson stated in reference to the Jennifer Gates called community meeting on August 7th that I said that, “the neighborhood doesn’t want green space.
 
In fact, I said “We don’t want a public park,” and many people heard this.  The four acres that are proposed to be developed is too small to dedicate land to a public park and also the City has said they will not maintain it.  Thus, to have a park that outsiders will discover and have picnics, kiddie birthdays, and bring dogs and not pick up, will be an invasion into our now quiet neighborhood.  It will be very expensive to maintain.
 
I have always advocated green space around the buildings like that of the Preston Tower and the Athena which allows permeable space, which will be helpful in stopping run-off flooding.  PD-15 is experiencing flooding already and this needs to be addressed before anything is built.  I, with our neighbors, have demanded a 100-foot setback for any buildings facing South toward NW Hwy.  This would allow for more green space, guest parking and save several vintage Live Oak trees.  Our small 4 acres to be developed is not large enough to dedicate 1/3 acre to a park.  Besides, there is a lovely park at Hillcrest and W. NW Hwy.  Also I have always championed green roofs on any buildings that are built in PD- 15. We are demanding for a right in and right out opening to be made in the Pink Wall so that construction vehicles will not be wandering around decimating streets we own and breaking tree limbs.
 
The proposed park is just another device that the developers use to get additional height and density which the neighborhood is against.
 

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Exxir - Bishop Arts - Interior

Rendering of interior plazas of the Bishop Arts Village project   (Source bishoparts.com)

Update 12/16/16 from yesterday’s Plan Commission meeting: after much conversation, commissioners voted to hold the motion until the January 19th meeting. Neighbors will be meeting with Rob Baldwin, the developer’s zoning rep after the New Year to clarify recent changes to the zoning amendment request.

Arts Village, LLC (aka Exxir Capital, aka the Nazarian family) will be going before the Dallas City Plan Commission Board this week to amend the zoning for Planned Development District No. 830, just south of the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff.

Nazerian Subdistrict Map

In September, I reported on this zoning change request, and since then the developers have held at least one community meeting. Yet they failed to include two of the most important requests I heard at that meeting:

1) To word the 15,000-square-foot market use to prohibit one singular tenant, and …

2) To limit hotel and entertainment uses to the portion of the 11 acre site south of 9th Street, where these uses are currently planned to be built — away from the residential neighborhood north of 9th and surrounding the development site.

We must remember that in this PD, zoning change requests are not subject to a specific development plan. Once uses are allowed by right in an area, plans can change, even owners can change. And although the Nazerians have proven to have great ideas for this development, these changes effect the land use allowances for the indefinite future, regardless of who the owner is.

At Thursday’s meeting, their zoning request will include the changes listed below, to be applicable within this one new subdistrict which will cover the entire 11 acre site resting between Melba Street, Madison Street, 10th Street, and Bishop Ave.

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Plan 1 SM

Last night’s Preston Center Task Force meeting laid bare their purpose — development.  It’s funny how way back when, this body was begun to study traffic and parking in the Preston Center area and yet, as we’ll see, these critical concerns from neighbors have been kinda pushed into the back seat by development.

Back in February 2015, I outlined the need for a Zone Zero that would concentrate on developing the overarching calculations for what’s possible given the current infrastructure.  How could existing roads best be optimized?  What traffic patterns need to emerge? Once you’d optimized raw traffic flows, then you could measure impacts of development and resulting capacity increases against that baseline.  Roadway optimization is something that must be done before development impacts are assessed.

Last night, near the end of the meeting we saw one slide outlining the three-stage project TXDoT and NCTCOG will be embarking on IN THE FUTURE to address the optimization of traffic flow (here’s my plan from July 2015) and the central parking garage.  Their work will be barely begun as the Preston Center Task Force draws its last breath in June.  The Task Force was invited to be a part of that new project but several members responded that this “was beyond their scope of work.”

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Adam and Alicia Rico. Photo courtesy Ryan Ray

Adam and Alicia Rico. Photo courtesy Ryan Ray

Adam and Alicia Rico are trendsetters of sorts, and quick to spot an opportunity when it comes to expanding their business reach.

The Brooklyn couple relocated to Dallas and opened a floral shop, Bows and Arrows Flowers, on Lower Greenville in 2009. Their gorgeous bouquets and arrangements quickly became one of the must-have wedding details for many Dallas brides.

They moved their shop to Bryan Street in old East Dallas in 2011. Last July, the pair spotted a dilapidated mansion in the neighborhood that, to their eye, would make a perfect wedding chapel once renovated, replete with the kind of stylish, high-end details they already offer with their flowers.

They live nearby at N. Fitzhugh Avenue and Live Oak Street and know the area well, so they purchased the property and spent months renovating the space and clearing trash and debris from neighboring lots. They built a new outdoor courtyard, added new exterior features, and were at work on the interior, as well.

But to make the wedding chapel legal, they needed to rezone to property from residential to commercial. And that’s where they ran into problems, Adam said.

“We knew that the process of zoning takes a while to go through, so we estimated four to five months, knowing that it could be challenging at any point,” said Adam. “But we didn’t expect to run into so much opposition from a few neighborhood associations.” Jump to read more!

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Dusk Skyline

Thanks for an unexpectedly large crowd, AIA Dallas has moved its screening of the 1967 documentary “The Walls Are Rising” to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The film which was a call to action for the city in regards to urban planning, features photos and narration from Austin-based photographer Rob Perryman.

Find out more about the film here, and purchase tickets on the AIA Dallas website.

Betty Culbreath (Photo: Dallas Morning News City Hall Blog)

Betty Culbreath (Photo: Dallas Morning News City Hall Blog)

Sounds like Betty Culbreath is a CandysDirt.com reader, as the City Plan Commissioner called out our little Dallas real estate blog during her comments at the June 19 meeting in which the proposed Sam’s Club at Uptown East/East Village/Cityplace was discussed.

Her speech, which lasts about three minutes at the 1:26:15 mark, references the $30,000 millionaires we’re hearing so much about these days, how it’s all about neighborhoods, and pool floats! If you didn’t know, Betty Culbreath is a bit of a blogger in her own right.

Get the full listen after the jump, and then tell us what you think:

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