Preston Center

Back in 2016, I took St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church to task on a bunch of things. The biggest being that while their representative was sitting silent on the Preston Center Task Force they were secretly negotiating with developers to plonk a 250,000 square foot office building on Douglas Avenue. After that scathing take-down, I was surprised when they reached out to me to review their new and improved plans for the site.

You’ve likely read the press release in the DMN from Sept. 6, but I wanted to sit down and get some additional detail. I met with the church’s team fairly quickly, so this delayed column is my fault (busy, busy).

The press release piqued my snark when I noted that in the scant two-page release the Preston Center Area Plan was mentioned eight times … eight … times. When I sat down with the team, it was one of the first things I said … eight times? Their spin was that it showed their commitment. I told them it raised my suspicion meter that there was something to hide. They were surprised at my reaction assuring me there was no hiding … but eight times.

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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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On Thursday, September 6, the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board will evaluate the landscape design for Teixeira Duarte’s by right high-rise at 3407 North Hall Street. The lot has an interesting history of ownership and failed deals – including the Renaissance condo developer not buying the parcel when he had the chance. Teixeira Duarte (TD) has been secretive about their plans since they stopped meeting with neighbors concerning their other site at Hood Street and Dickason Avenue back in July 2016.

A lot has happened financially to TD since 2016. First, they’ve not posted any 2018 quarterly reports on their website. Second, their business volume (revenue) was €1.412 billion in fiscal year 2015, by 2017 it had fallen to €1.036 billion with resulting profitability down as well (one wonders about 2018). The decreases in their business may have played a part in their stalling construction and eventually deciding to avoid protracted negotiations with the Oak Lawn Committee and City Hall by constructing by right.

Even though a by right project, the Hall Street property requires approval by the Parks and Recreation Board because the parcel is within the Turtle Creek Environmental Corridor. And because Parks and Recreation only cares about landscape plans, because it sits above an underground parking garage, the packet is light on images

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(Editor’s Note: This column expresses opinion of the writer, and should not be interpreted as the editorial opinion of CandysDirt.com. We believe many voices uphold our core mission: a transparent discussion about North Texas real estate 24/7 )

Times change. Times change in city council representation. Back in 2007, then Oak Lawn council member Angela Hunt was quoted in the Dallas Morning News leading the charge against a proposed Gables development at Carlisle and Hall Streets bordering the Katy Trail.

Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, who represents the area where Gables is proposing to build, says she’ll ask the council to deny Gables’ zoning request “with prejudice.”

“The overwhelming number of residents who will be affected by this change are opposed, and I am elected to represent them,“ Ms. Hunt said.

“I have not had a case come before me where such a large majority of residents are so vehemently opposed to a zoning change,” Ms. Hunt said. “There’s a reason we have zoning: so residents have some certainty as to what the future of the community will look like. To me, there’s a high level of proof needed to get a zoning change, and this project doesn’t cut it.”

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Capacity crowd on hand to watch the OLC fritter away its credibility

By a narrow margin, Lincoln Property won support from the Oak Lawn Committee in a 16-to-14 vote for their Lincoln Katy Trail project on Carlisle and Hall Streets Wednesday night.  This pivotal vote essentially opens up MF-2 zoned properties (36 feet in height) in the area east of the Katy Trail, from Uptown to West Village (if not further afield), for redevelopment.  I say “opens” because, should City Plan Commission and Council approve this project, developers will use it as exemplar for increased density in Oak Lawn and the OLC will have lost their credibility to stop them.

Already we know that the Carlisle on the Katy, located across from the Lincoln project, plans their own up-zone. The last plans called for a pair of high-rises with former Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt signed on to help. Additionally, on the next block, Sutton Place had been seeking a developer buyout for several years.

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At last week’s Lincoln meeting at Turtle Creek Terrace concerning their Lincoln Katy Trail project a question was asked about affordable housing units.  It was asked how many Toll Brothers was providing.  Some didn’t think there were any affordable units in that project.  I volunteered that there was a 10 percent affordable component.

I was wrong.

Toll Brothers is reserving three percent of their units as affordable (9 units) but they are also going to accept Section 8 vouchers (“over 12”) making for a combined 7-ish percent of units that will be available below market rates.

My mixup was from a proposed project by Alliance at Cole and Armstrong (Broadstone) that is offering a 10 percent affordable component (and who, along with Lincoln, will be presenting at tomorrow’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting at the Melrose Hotel at 6:30 p.m. … open to all).

I’m writing this to clarify (I don’t like being inaccurate), but also to propitiate a note from Angela Hunt correcting my 10 percent claim by noting the city told her the number was 3 percent affordable … though she did not account for the Section 8 component. 

 

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

Gridlock traffic on Hall Street walking to 6 p.m. Lincoln meeting

I could open by saying this was a full house, but the room in question wasn’t large, seating approximately 30 people.  So “full” would be misleading.  Most of the attendees appeared to be owners hoping to sell their property to Lincoln for their Lincoln Katy Trail project on Carlisle and Hall Streets. There was some friction from neighbors opposed to the project.

That friction mostly boiled down to the traffic study supplied. It states delays from the project would not result in more than 35 additional trips and a second of added delay during peak traffic hour. After the meeting I chatted with Lincoln representative Angela Hunt about the traffic conclusions and why they make no sense to most people.

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Lincoln’s same old-same old project. Look closely to see indented garage entrance.

I wonder if this project should be renamed Beetlejuice. It seems like Lincoln believes that by showing the same unpopular plan over and over, neighborhood approval will suddenly appear. Lincoln representative Angela Hunt whizzed through an incomplete deck of slides in record time.  I say incomplete because one Oak Lawn Committee member had the original presentation from many moons ago and wondered where all the pages had gone … you know, the detail.  Hunt said she left those pages out for brevity.

It was an excuse echoed by Lincoln’s Jeff Courtwright.  In this case he was responding to a query about why Lincoln had ignored the very specific data requested months ago concerning how shade would fall across neighboring buildings.  This time Courtwright said he made the decision not to provide what was asked for but instead give them only what he wanted.  You’ll recall, I called Lincoln out for ignoring requests, essentially disrespecting the neighbors.  Of course the reason it was ignored was because the result was bad.  I’ll even go out on a limb and say some computer whiz ran the data and saw it was bad, so it was buried.

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