Turtle Creek Terrace doesn’t look as dilapidated as Lincoln claimed

After a long and winding road, Lincoln Property’s proposed Lincoln Katy Trail project was denied by city council (I assume they will re-apply). That project would have replaced the Turtle Creek Terrace condo complex. Today, Turtle Creek Terrace unit #168, located at 3203 Carlisle – the intersection of Oak Lawn and Uptown – was listed.

It’s a perfect illustration of my point that replacing 115 existing market-rate affordable housing units with 45 was a bad deal. This one-bedroom, two-bathroom unit has 824 square feet and is listed for $149,000 with Tyler Hagood from Small World Realty. Using basic mortgage tools, that breaks down into a monthly payment of approximately $925 assuming a 30-year mortgage or ~$1,250 for a 15 year payoff. These monthly costs include mortgage, taxes, insurance, and HOA fees.

According to Zillow calculators, using Dallas’ average household income of $54,727, a couple could afford a monthly payment of $1,629/month. Using the 80 percent average median income required for listed affordable housing ($43,781), this home is purchasable by someone earning just $42,000 – less than a qualified affordable unit.

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City Council took up the long in the tooth Lincoln Katy Trail project at Wednesday’s evening meeting after failing City Plan Commission in November. In an attempt to sweeten the deal to an affordable housing-hungry city council, Lincoln raised their affordable component from five percent to 15 percent (from 15 to 45 units). And many council members, including Mayor Mike Rawlings took the bait.

Mayor Rawlings was so obviously hot to pass this project, he literally asked Oak Lawn District 14 Council Member Philip Kingston if he would support the deal if Lincoln purchased a home for a blind woman living in the complex referenced by Kingston. Others wanted to know what affordable percentage would cause Kingston to support the project.

“It’s math,” they said. Why yes, it is …

The council couldn’t (or wouldn’t) figure out that the existing complex contains 115 market-rate affordable housing units. Raising the affordable housing giveback to 15 percent still leaves the neighborhood with 70 fewer affordable units. They also ignore the positive self-esteem of being able to rent or purchase a market rate affordable home versus having to qualify through an invasive application process to prove you’re poor enough.

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The attempt to get a Plan Commission re-vote on the Lincoln Katy Trail project has spectacularly failed. As reported on Dec. 4, Christopher Lewis, Plan Commissioner appointed by District 8 Council Member Tennell Atkins, filed paperwork to get the project reconsidered after it initially failed CPC on Nov. 15.

Today’s CPC session brought up the motion to reconsider with District 10 appointee Tipton Housewright seconding the motion. Almost immediately, Commissioner Deborah Carpenter motioned for discussion to be halted and a vote to re-vote simply held. That motion didn’t pass, which I’m sure caused a few white knuckles (including mine).

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Last week, CandysDirt.com reported the unusual move by one Plan Commissioner to call for a re-vote on the contentious Lincoln Katy Trail project. We can now report the request was made by Christopher Lewis, newly appointed by District 8 Council Member Tennell Atkins.  I noted at the time it was an unusual move for someone so new to the position.  It also has the potential to set a very dangerous precedent for the City of Dallas.

The last (easily discovered) time reconsideration was used was back in 2013 when some wanted to frack in the Trinity River floodplain. The CPC said “no” but then CPC chair and fracking supporter Joe Alcantar asked for a reconsideration. Seems a game was afoot to game the system because of who was missing from the first vote and who would be missing from the second. You may recall the city manager and city attorney were fired during the scandal.

The reason for the re-vote was the same as Lincoln Katy Trail. A CPC loss translates into a 3/4 majority at City Council for passage.

Interestingly enough for history buffs, three council members wrote to Alcantar urging his to reconsider the re-vote. Scott Griggs, Sandy Greyson and … Angela Hunt, who now sits with Lincoln on the Lincoln Katy Trail case.

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On Dec. 13, Lincoln Katy Trail will return to City Plan Commission to have its case reconsidered. “How’d that happen?” you ask? According to insiders, any commissioner who essentially wants to change their vote from the majority to the minority can ask for a case to be reheard.

I’m told that since November’s twin Oak Lawn Committee and CPC losses, there’s been no additional community outreach, no change in plans, and certainly no return to the Oak Lawn Committee – just a do-over because at least one Commissioner wants to switch sides.

Do I believe in a guilt-fueled epiphany? No. I believe in City Hall lobbying by Lincoln Property Company. Lincoln and their representative, former Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, didn’t stop knocking on doors after November’s CPC defeat – and it seems one commissioner was swayed.

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Lincoln Property’s Lincoln Katy Trail project failed to gain support from City Plan Commission. However, mimicking the Oak Lawn Committee’s own waffling, Plan Commission’s vote was tighter than it might have been had the OLC been more crisp and decisive in its own votes on this project.

Several Plan Commissioners voiced concerns about the OLC’s role in moving goal posts as Lincoln representative Angela Hunt claimed. One example given of “post moving” was the opposition’s desire for the building to be split in three sections instead of the two they got. Several Plan Commissioners and Commission Chair Gloria Tarpley said this was the first time they’d heard about the three-building desire. However when Lincoln first showed the original building broken in two last month, I checked the tape from the July CPC meeting and Vine condo representative Amanda Popken listed a three-building split as one of the desires. So no post-moving on this issue.

Commissioner Margot Murphy expressed the sentiment that view corridors are not protected. While I’d agree with that for construction of by-right projects, I don’t when view encroachment is the result of doubling the allowable zoning height. Zoning has to stand for something.

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News comes to us that Lincoln Property’s bid for Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) support for their revised plan has failed. You may recall the Lincoln Katy Trail project was essentially told last month by enough Plan Commissioners return to the OLC before returning to the City Plan Commission (CPC). Sources tell me that the OLC vote was five short. This is a backwards slide for the project, which had previously enjoyed the support of the long-standing neighborhood group by a single vote.

What happens next?

So far, Lincoln is due to return to Plan Commission tomorrow to pitch this revised plan. I’m hearing that this is still the plan even without OLC support. It will be very interesting to see how CPC plays this. As I’ve written, it’s been decades since a plan unsupported by the OLC has succeeded in passing CPC – and that plan (for Victory Park) required mayoral intervention – something I don’t see happening here.

Should CPC pass this plan, it severely hurts OLC and disempowers a neighborhood comprising Oak Lawn, Uptown, West Village, and Knox. I can’t believe the city would do this.  It would encourage developers to do less for the neighborhood, banking on CPC overturning any OLC denial of support.

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Oak Lawn Committee

Conceptual Image

Tuesday night’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting was chockablock with five projects. The first peek will be of the proposed Central Market in the perennial unsuccessful supermarket location on McKinney between the Lemmon split. You may recall it as Albertsons or more recently Minyards. At first glance, this is pretty spanky and cool, but the devil is in the details.

It’s proposed to be a whopping big development. There would be a five-level podium covering 95 percent of the parcel that balances two 360’ towers on opposing corners. The larger of the two towers would be a 21-story office building while the other would be an as yet unspecified mix of office, hotel and/or multi-family.

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