The August Oak Lawn Committee was thick with high-rise proposals. In Part 1 we saw an update on StreetLights Residential’s proposal for Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenues plus a new office building and retail restaurant village for the Quadrangle.  Let’s now focus on 2500 Cedar Springs Road, a full block you may know as housing a Briggs Freeman office and Kung Fu Saloon.

It’s a four-acre site that gives developer, Ryan Companies, the space to do something pretty great. For us pedestrians it’s the 55 percent lot coverage to cheer for. They’ve created a winding pathway through the three-tower project along streetscapes lined with shops restaurants. Definitely more enticing than the existing buildings that almost tumble into Cedar Springs Road like so many bar patrons at closing time.

The project has been a long time coming, with Ryan working side by side with architects GFF to make this all happen. And GFF is no innocent bystander here. The back corner of the development is, and will remain, their home.

Let’s jump in.

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After a couple of months where a single project was proposed to the Oak Lawn Committee, last night saw scads of new high-rises within blocks of each other in Uptown. The fifth high-rise postponed their presentation, but we’ll see it soon enough (and perhaps a sixth). The four shown comprise two separate projects abutting each other – two office buildings, one apartment building and another hotel (I now count five hotels in various stages of development). We also saw the return of a shortened Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenue project by StreetLights Residential.

A full night indeed made fuller by an appearance of new council member David Blewett. Amidst the usual political “supporting constituents” patter came a series of double-takes delivered by way of audience questions.

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At last night’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting, Streetlights Residential had a lot of explaining to do in regards to the design of their planned tower at Lemmon and Oak Lawn avenues.

If you’re in a Google satellite, the building on the lower right is the proposed 21-story apartment building. It would supplant the Shell station and Pizza Hut, and would be next to Eatzi’s (which is also sorta part of the plan).

For those without long memories, this is the parcel of land that empowered the neighborhood to set out the Oak Lawn Plan and PD-193 that is rigorously overseen by the Oak Lawn Committee. On this lot once stood the Esquire Theater, built in 1931 as the Melrose Theater. Lore says the reason “Esquire” was chosen in the renaming is that it had the same number of letters and would fit on the marquee. The theater would have turned 88 this year had Lincoln Property not demolished it in February 1985, in the middle of the night (also according to lore). The demolition catalyzed the neighborhood. So as things go, this is sort of hallowed ground in Oak Lawn.

Thus, when Streetlights Residential presented their proposal for this long-neglected corner, questions naturally arose about the building’s unfortunate exterior. More than one OLC member asked why Streetlights wasn’t going all out for a “signature” building on such a highly trafficked corner.

The response was that the exterior was still being worked on. Good. Thus far, it appears to be poor company to other high-rises seen in their picture, and the many other well-done projects Streetlights is known for.

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Granite returned to the Oak Lawn Committee as part of a three-building agenda. While Granite’s Cedar Maple project was last on the agenda, its size pushes it to the front of my line. After last month’s OLC meeting, the developer was given eight things to work on, and they did.

The biggest was a reduction in height from 425 to 399 feet, which eliminated two office floors and also cut parking by 111 spaces. Part of the reduction was based on Granite’s own internal research into parking patterns within its multimillion square feet of office properties. Their research shows a continual decline in parking usage — some from Uber and Lyft, some from walking and cycling, and some just from people not being in the office as much. If you work from home two days per week, that’s two days a parking space will be empty. Flow that through hundreds of workers and two lost floors, and the result is fewer spaces.

They also supplied support letters, a more fleshed-out landscape plan, and answers about parking on its adjacent streets.  Kinda nuts and bolts, the fun and confusion came in from the traffic study.

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Weir’s proposed Knox Street frontage

Weir’s Furniture has been a fixture about town for 70 years.  Their Knox store has sat witness to the area’s ups and downs.  I think it’s safe to say Knox is on the up and up and Weir’s wants to remain an integral part of the transformation (new residents need furniture).  You may recall back in July, I reported on Restoration Hardware’s plans to transform their piddly one story.  Weir’s wants in on that action and so last night made their way to the Oak Lawn Committee.

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