703 McKinney Landscape Plan

Tuesday’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting wasn’t the chock-a-block agenda November was, but there was still an interesting project to see and a presidency to decide. First up was an application for a landscape special exception by the 703 McKinney Athletic Club. If you’re like me — more used to dealing with four-digit McKinney Ave. addresses — it will help to know 703 is north of Woodall Rodgers at the Interstate 35 connector at the south end of Victory Park. To the more uncouth, it’s kitty-corner from Hooters. To Realtors, it’s south of The House. To those of a certain age, it’ll always be The Starck Club.

In the mid-1980s, a lot of cities birthed signature dance clubs (or discos as they were called). New York had Studio 54 and Danceteria, in London it was Heaven and the Hippodrome. In Dallas, it was The Starck Club – an over-the-top nightly extravaganza that brought everyone with rhythm and shoulder pads out onto the dance floor. It was designed by a very young (weren’t we all) Phillipe Starck (who designed neighboring high-rise The House much, much, more recently).

While this chat with the OLC involved landscaping, there’s more afoot here than trees and shrubs. In addition to an athletic club overhaul, Mr. Starck himself is working with the building’s new lease-holder to revive The Starck Club. The club’s bones still exist, most recently as Zouk. Lord knows this country needs a good dance.

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There are two columns today on the Oak Lawn Committee’s (OLC) latest meeting because there were really two agendas. First, was the business of reviewing the Crescent’s proposed redo of 2401 Cedar Springs and then the internal battle to wrest control of the committee towards a more developer-heavy make-up.

It began with a few bylaw changes proposed by a committee made up of four prior OLC presidents and Kyle Lyon who was later nominated as vice-president for the coming year. The changes were simple enough and targeted at strengthening the OLC’s position within the city’s development process. Those three changes were:

  1. Limiting membership to people who live, operate a business or own property within the PD-193 boundaries, but excluding investors who own shares in an entity that holds title to property. While every owner views their ownership as an asset, it was viewed that those who are merely investors (e.g. stockholders) were most interested in their investment over the neighborhood as a whole. It was said this change would affect one member.

In large part because of this proposed change, OLC vice-president Leland Burk sent an email to The Melrose Hotel, without OLC board knowledge, alerting them to the coming change and broadly hinting they would not be welcome under the new rules. The OLC board only found out when The Melrose started calling for answers. It was a disrespectful action, meant to whip up controversy.

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