New-Transwestern-rendering-Preston-Rd

As predicted, we are all two-weeks older since the Planning Commission fobbed-off the vote on the proposed Transwestern development at the northeast corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway. What, if any, votes changed in those two weeks is unknown, but I suspect few. Certainly attendees were not treated to German band Texas Lightening popping out of a cake as I’d hoped.

In those two weeks Transwestern held a meeting largely for angry single-family homeowners upset that the proposal had moved on without them paying attention and seemingly their neighborhood association not informing them. Thankfully I was busy elsewhere that evening. However, I invited Candy over after the fireworks to spill the beans while I plied her with wine.

Also in those two weeks the opposition became a bit more organized and vocal, certainly putting up more of a show at today’s Planning Commission meeting.

And a show it was… hours of tedium and speechifying. It was like church without the wine and crackers.

The same tired rubrics about density, traffic and parking ultimately found no purchase with the Commission. Especially after both the Transwestern-hired traffic engineering representative and the City traffic planning representative spoke. Those arguments were shot, gutted, stuffed and mounted on the rumpus room wall. (more…)

New-Transwestern-rendering-Preston-Rd 

After attending my first Dallas Planning Commission meeting yesterday, I called my doctor for some anti-depressants to keep from cutting myself. I’ll give Commissioner Margot Murphy credit for putting attendees out of their misery quickly by moving the item up in the docket, but fault her for asking for a two-week delay in what has been nearly two years of tedium (history here, here, here and 25 more stories posted on Candysdirt.com). When the vote was taken to postpone, clearly not everyone was a “Yea” but no one had the guts to rock the boat and say “Nay.”

Why was the delay asked for? Shenanigans. Plain old political shenanigans.

Ya see, the Preston Hollow EAST Homeowners Association (PHEHA) which is directly north of the proposed development is apparently claiming surprise at the Planning Commission vote and in general at not being notified of the latest Transwestern proposal that’s been floating around since March. (You remember March, that was when we were hoping for a little rain.)

Ashley Parks, previous president and current PHEHA board member for the seemingly new post covering “zoning,” apparently missed the stories in the press, the discussions from the Preston Center Task Force meetings (of which she’s an appointed neighborhood representative) and the meeting last Thursday at the Baptist Church called by homeowners to talk one last time with Transwestern.

Oh, and apparently Parks missed the strings of communications sent directly by and to her and current PHEHA president Judy Smiley. Here’s a refresher …

(more…)

New-Transwestern-rendering-Preston-Rd

Last night Candy and I, both Pink Wall property owners, attended the (hopefully) final neighborhood meeting with Transwestern on their proposed complex on the northeast corner of Preston and Northwest Highway. It goes before the City Council on Aug. 20.

While the proposed structure will not win any design awards, it’s inoffensive. And of those attending this meeting, there were certainly more positive than negative.

We all have differing thresholds of skill and patience. Watching this gathering I was stunned how well the Transwestern representatives kept their cool in the face of some ill-conceived, often repetitive questions. I kept mumbling under my breath during most of them, thinking the answers were either idiotic, obvious, or previously discussed ad-nauseum in the nearly two years this has been percolating.

(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.
(more…)

The Steakley Chevy dealership on Northwest highway will get a reboot as a big-box retail development. Photo: Ainbinder Co.

The Steakley Chevy dealership on Northwest highway will get a reboot as a big-box retail development. Photo: Ainbinder Co.

Of course, the very first question I got when a friend forwarded me this Advocate story about the old Steakley Chevrolet dealership at Northwest Highway and Abrams was: “OMG. IS IT GOING TO BE A COSTCO???”

No, folks. Costco already passed on this site, and a few others inside the city limits, so you’re pretty much stuck making the trek northward to Plano for your bulk sundries and institutional-sized bags of organic nuts. However, that corner of the busy nexus of Skillman/Abrams/Northwest Highway has been a mess for years, hosting illustrious businesses such as Dallas Furniture Mart, which had a going out of business sale pretty much ever week. Perhaps it’s time to think about your business model if you have to have someone out front every Saturday twirling a sign saying “EVERYTHING MUST GO!”

Anyway, to say that those of us who live in the nearby area are pumped about something being built in that spot would be an understatement. However there are still those among us who are pooh-poohing more retail in an area they already consider congested.

(more…)

 

Underground 3

A topless version of Michael Framboluti’s underground residences could definitely work at Preston and Northwest Highway, making a highrise possible in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

You’re the host with the most (cash) vying for a piece of the redevelopment of the Preston and Northwest Highway intersection. Unfortunately you’re hemmed-in by dowagers and dilettantes who will fight change with hammer and tong.  What to do … what to do?

Go down.

(more…)

Preston_Center_Dallas_Texas-Restaurants-and-Businesses

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

I’ve read with interest the fitful start to developing a plan for increasing the density surrounding Northwest Highway and Preston Road. I’ve seen the map identifying the seven zones (fiefdoms) with a personal stake in any change.

What I don’t see is a zone “zero” that controls traffic and parking that sits above the fray of the other zones.

Think about it. Of the seven zones in the current map, all but Zone One are likely to be opposed to development. Those remaining six zones, all residential, are probably not opposed to development per se, they’re against the traffic and parking mess it will create. And the added wrinkle of unvarnished self-interest of those whose backyard views will change.

(more…)

HalfPriceBooksNorthwestHighway

In this rendering from Cunningham Architects, you can see the 34,000-square-foot REI campus that will open this spring across from the Half Price Books flagship store on Northwest Highway and Shadybrook.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should go ahead and say that my husband works for Half Price Books. But honestly, I’d be a fan of the company regardless. I’ve always been interested in how Pat Anderson grew a company from a 1,000-square-foot laundromat into a national brand, all without relinquishing the used bookstore feel that makes the brand so familiar and cool. And while the company knows how to run a successful chain of paperback-filled, nostalgia-laden stores, is it ready for the world of real estate?

As you may know, Half Price Books is developing the lot opposite of its flagship store at Shadybrook and Northwest Highway. Outdoor retailer REI has already committed to anchoring the development with a 34,000-square-foot store set to open March 3, and there is an additional 13,000 square feet for other retail. Designed by Cunningham Architects, the center will definitely stand out with a cool modern facade.

It’s all in a very unique part of Dallas, Vickery Meadow, which is mostly dense apartment communities roughly bounded by Greenville Avenue on the west, Northwest Highway on the south, Park Lane to the north, and Skillman on the east. It’s a very ethnically diverse area that is sorely lacking quality retail, and is yet over-populated with bodegas, check-cashing stores, and sketchy corner stores.

“Half Price Books has always had a great relationship with Vickery Meadow residents, and we’re excited to help bring more retail options to the area,” said Half Price Books Executive Vice President Kathy Doyle Thomas. “Every Sunday this fall, we hosted the Vickery Meadow Local Market in the parking lot of our Half Price Books Flagship store. Our neighbors, businesses in the area, and the city of Dallas are very excited about our new development.”

(more…)