Recommendation carves Preston Tower separated to maintain existing commercial office space

The original, decades-old PD-15 documentation is faulted for its lack of clarity. Unfortunately, the new document reflecting city staff’s recommendations has its own issues with clarity (Draft PD and Presentation).  You will recall that last November, Council Member Jennifer Gates sent the second neighborhood committee home after being bogged down a second time by non-negotiable towers’ representatives. During the two ensuing months, city staff were to have created their own recommendations based on their research and experience. Unfortunately, given the output, I suspect work only began after the Christmas wrapping paper was cleared.

First, the document doesn’t stand on its own as an obviously understandable document. Instead, questions abound, requiring significant explanation by city staff at last night’s meeting. Hopefully as the draft tightens, these ambiguities are made clear to future readers.

For those who enjoy spoilers, the city’s recommendations call for the area between northwest Highway and Diamond Head Circle to support 240-foot heights, while from Diamond Head Circle northward to the alley could build to 96 feet in height. Overall, the PD would equalize density at 90 units per acre. The rough result would be 540-750 total units (405-615 new). Why the spread? You’ll have to read to the end.

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Dallas electionsFourteen Dallas City Council seats and three Dallas Independent School District trustee seats are up for grabs on May 6. I’ll start saying this early — as I always do: It can cost somewhere around $1 million to hold an election, and in most May Dallas elections, we see less than 10 percent of voters turning out to vote.

And it really couldn’t be much easier. Check and see if you’re registered to vote here.  If you’re not, you can click here to register. If you vote early, you can vote at any early voting polling location in the county – so on your way to work, during your lunch break, on your way home, or even on a Saturday. The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2 for all Dallas elections.

The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2. You can even vote on a Saturday or a Sunday.

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Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 11.28.55 AMThis is one of the biggest pickles Dallas, or really any U.S. city, has been in.

As we have mentioned, the police and fire pension is asking the taxpayers of Dallas to make up a $1.1 billion shortfall. At the same time, the police are SUING Dallas for $4 illion in back pay, IF they are victorious in ther lawsuit.

The mayor of Dallas has personally filed a lawsuit against the fund, asking it to put a halt to the DROP program, which he maintains is bleeding it. And the Dallas City Council will be hashing it out all day tomorrow.

A real estate connection: the mayor’s lawyer, by the way, is Mike Gruber, husband of Dave Perry-Miller’s Diane Gruber, father of Dave Perry-Miller’s Becky Gruber.

There are a trifecta of issues to consider, and Jennifer Staubach Gates sent the entire briefing to her email list. That woman is the queen of transparency.

On the one hand, we have the police filing suit against the city of Dallas, the taxpayers, in a lawsuit that goes way back to 1994, more than twenty years ago. The lawsuit is over a pay differential: that is, the police say that every time the city gives one member or group of members (such as new recruits) on he force a raise, everyone on the force gets one. Whole new meaning to “Let the force be with you.” Dallas says no, but a stupid state law from 2005 is fueling that flame.

We have put the briefing up for all to read. Of note: (more…)

H-E-B

DFW Internet was set ablaze yesterday after H-E-B announced the purchase of six Sun Fresh Market stores in the area. (Photo by Dave Stone/Flickr)

Monday afternoon, the Dallas-area Internet exploded: It wasn’t just a rumor, the long-desired H-E-B grocery store chain had bought up six Sunfresh Market sites — four in Dallas, one in Grapevine, and one in McKinney.

Interestingly enough, it seems like the drumbeat for expansion may have been happening even earlier than this, judging from this thread in Retail Watchers.

As neighborhood NextDoor pages and Facebook groups filled with the requisite 15 reposts of the same Dallas Morning News article, people began to express their joy at the possibility of the area finally getting the stores that are ubiquitous in Central and Southeast Texas, but not so much around here. They also began to guess about which it would be – Central Market, or H-E-B. (more…)

Task Force Title SM

UPDATE:  Both D Magazine’s Frontburner and Dallas Morning News’ City Hall Blog referenced this posting today.

 

The session on Feb. 16 was different from the recent Preston Center Task Force meetings. Nearly all the task force members were there … and about 50 residents showed up as well! Before I run through the high points, a pair of interesting things …

During the meeting, I was paying particular attention to Laura Miller, as she tends to speak often and with some authority. I’m not sure if her demeanor had softened with the blue jeans she was wearing, but at some point I realized she’s smart-smart versus just opportunistic-political-smart. I’m not saying I completely agree with her, but she connects the dots quicker than most. And lately, I’ve been in too many rooms filled with people unable to connect the dots.

Secondly, after the meeting I approached councilwoman Gates to make a (constructive) suggestion (that I’ll get to later) and her preemptive question was to ask if what was said tonight matched up with the plan I’d crafted oh so many months ago. “Kinda” I said, caught a little off guard. (In truth, I’ve said I don’t have the resources to drill into development comparisons as these consultants have, but my plan and conclusions have a lot of similarities.)

Anyway …

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It was probably the most beautiful memorial service most of us will ever attend, and it was totally befitting Ebby Halliday Acers, the Duchess of Dallas Real Estate as her pastor, Dr. Jim Denison, called her. The sanctuary at Park Cities Baptist Church on Thursday afternoon was loaded, as was the balcony, and I’m told it holds 3000. The church hall, which holds another 1000, was set up for the overflow.

The afternoon service was laced with beautiful music, beginning with a performance by the Happy Hill Farm Academy choir, Happy Hill being one of the many charities Ebby supported.

Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO of Ebby Halliday Realtors, remembered Ebby first. Mary Frances started with the company as a temporary secretary, who Ebby asked to stay on permanently. Back then she said she made about $2.50 an hour — “Ebby was my graduate school,” she said. (more…)

Preston Center Task Force Map

The Task Force’s 1,630 acre charge

As CandysDirt.com readers (and likely most all of Dallas) know, Councilwoman Jennifer Gates formed a task force to hire a consultant to tell them how bad traffic and parking are in the Preston Road and Northwest Highway area. Granted the scope of the project is much larger (see map), but this intersection is where the action will be. I just heard today that the consultant has been selected who will deliver suggested solutions for their $350,000 fee.

During the last task force meeting on April 27, it was revealed that they were about $100,000 short and seeking donations from concerned area citizens and businesses needing a tax write-off. The other $250,000 is being fronted by North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTOG).

NCTOG is a voluntary coalition formed from local government representatives from the 16 counties surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth and includes 235 members. NCTOG is a political subdivision formed by the State of Texas in 1966. NCTOG’s mission seems to be to a shared resource to help municipal planning in the region (judging from current job vacancies, traffic management is a large part). Unfortunately their reports and recommendations carry no force so no matter how smart (and right) they are, local governments can ultimately do whatever they want. Funding comes from member dues and local, state and federal government agencies.

The initial data will take 12-18 months to gather and present to the task force. I then easily foresee another 6-12 months of digesting and bandying around various scenarios before crafting a final document to present to the City Council. Or in other words, about two years. Then the work begins to beg, borrow and curry favor to implement whatever recommendations have made it that far. Best guess for seeing a first shovel hit the ground? At least four years from now … if at all.

If at All

  • “If at all” because if Dallas and University Park City Councils are not even supportive enough to fund the study, then surely they’re not anxiously waiting, wallet outstretched, to unleash the millions needed to actually better the area, are they?
  • “If at all” because, as pointed out by Morning News blogger Robert Wilonsky, today’s fracas is a near word-for-word repeat from 1976 which sought (unsuccessfully) to back-zone properties to three stories in an effort to curb development and traffic.
  • “If at all” because two later studies in 1986 and 1989 received little/no action or funding from the city.
  • “If at all” because Mayor Mike Rawlins, faced with overflowing property tax coffers, would rather cut taxes than fix crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructure that’s admittedly underfunded by the Texas Transportation Commission by $2-billion annually in the NCTOG area (I hate taxes too, but I hate crappy roads more).

I think the City Council is more likely to thank the task force for their work before ushering them out with a case of Rice-a-Roni and a year’s supply of Tic Tacs. The anti-development crowd knows the game being played is to stall and starve developers. The death of 1,000 City Council postponements.

Begun in 2014, we will spend over four years pretending this is a difficult and time consuming project. It’s not. In fact, I spent a few hours over a weekend and crafted the poor-man’s Preston Center Traffic and Parking Plan. I have mailed a copy to each member of the city council so that, years from now, I’ll have my big, fat, “I told you so” moment.

Granted my plan is more concise and isn’t full of the pretty sketches of happy, dog-walking models on tree-lined, car-less streets – I’m not good with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or AutoCAD.  But don’t be fooled, these kinds of images are all just a marketing “show” put on for the tourists.

But the same recommendations on how to fix traffic and parking will be there. Why am I so sure? Because the area surrounding Northwest Highway and Preston Road is finite and so are the solutions. It’s the simple application of math coupled with a little research on traffic management theory. After all, we’re talking physical roadways here, not a TARDIS.

Jon Anderson’s Traffic Plan for Preston Center

Jump for more details.
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Preston center skybridge

Laura Miller wrote a note to homeowners inside the Athena, asking them to speak out against Crow Holdings’ proposed Preston Center sky bridge at the June 17 Dallas City Council meeting.

Midday Monday, residents in my high-rise received a double-forwarded note containing a letter I later found out was written by former mayor Laura Miller. The letter (after the jump) makes the case for opposing the sky bridge at Preston Center.

Since moving to Preston Hollow, I’ve noticed that any whiff of development is met with one-sided opposition. I’ve never seen any discussion or debate on whatever proposal is at hand. If it’s development, the knee-jerk seems to be to oppose it without giving the prospect an airing. I like air.

As I did with the latest Transwestern proposal for their much-diminished development on Preston and Northwest highway, I responded to the letter to provide counterbalance to the pointedly negative position.

Anyway, Miller responded to my note and in turn I replied back. You can read the exchanges that were sent to those 137 residents in the email exchange after the jump.

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