After a show-and-tell session about the history of the lot adjacent to Eatzi’s, StreetLights Residential came back to the Oak Lawn Committee with a better plan.

For those who need a reminder about why the Oak Lawn Committee is critical to the neighborhood’s integrity, last night’s meeting was a case in point.

Last month, StreetLights Residential brought a proposal for the corner of Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenues next to the flagship/original Eatzi’s. You may remember I called the building’s design “unfortunate” and “poor company” to its surroundings. Things have changed.

After last month’s meeting, I had a chance to sit down with Greg Coutant, the director of development for StreetLights, and share my thoughts and concerns. We talked about the movie theater originally on the plot. I also brought along a book covering a century of high-rise residential design and played show-and-tell. They listened.

StreetLights went back to the movie theater’s archive (housed in the Dallas Public Library) for inspiration from the original 1931 theater. Now the Oak Lawn Avenue façade looks like an update on that original theater – complete with sign and marquee. It creates a visual connection to the Melrose Hotel. It also begins to heal the wound this parcel has represented to the neighborhood since the theater was torn down in 1985. I was impressed with the work so far.

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At last night’s meeting regarding PD-15 at Preston Road and Northwest Highway, it appeared that those opposed to redevelopment of the area are also opposed to facts.

When the author of a recent traffic study showed how the PD-15 traffic study was conducted and its conclusions, his reward was being peppered by non-believers in return. Color me shocked.

Last night, Steve Stoner, Director of Traffic Engineering with Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, presented his findings on traffic in and around PD-15 to 30-40 residents. Stoner holds a master’s degree in civil engineering and is an accredited Texas Professional Engineer (P.E.) and Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (P.T.O.E). He has been in the field for 25 years. Suffice it to say this ain’t his first traffic rodeo.

And yet, as predicted, the group of unqualified attendees (likely reading any traffic study for the first time) who disagree with redevelopment in PD-15, questioned his “veracity,” methods, and conclusions. We live in an age where facts are only facts if they support your worldview. Contradictory facts must be questioned to revalidate preconceptions – as happened last night.

There were also insinuations that his conclusions were beholden to those who paid his fee. Of course, those doing the insinuating have yet to fund their own traffic study. It’s easier and less risky to dump on someone else’s work.

Some were surprised that the traffic study wasn’t the all-encompassing, baton-twirling report with a cherry on top they’d thought it would be. That’s fair, if you’ve not seen a traffic study, you have no frame of reference on what they deliver.

The results reviewed by Stoner mirrored what I wrote previously (unsurprising since I was giving a book report on his findings). You can read them here.

But there was more to this meeting than a book report.

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If traffic is the major argument against redevelopment in PD-15, a new study could render it moot.

The traffic study, conducted by Pacheco Koch and funded by the Preston Place condos, was posted online Tuesday and makes for interesting reading. The map above shows the study area bounded by Preston Road, Northwest Highway, Walnut Hill, and Hillcrest Road. It goes well beyond just PD-15 which should be good news for the surrounding Pink Wall and Preston Hollow neighborhoods.

The report itself is 120 pages long with two 15-page sub-reports on the potential of adding traffic signals to either Edgemere Road or Tulane Boulevard at Northwest Highway. Skimpy it ain’t (so I’ll excuse you to read the first 19 pages).

What makes this report different from other traffic studies I’ve read is that it includes extensive thought and recommendations on how things currently work and could work in the future. While I’m open to nearly all its findings, I have an issue with their thoughts on opening Tulane Boulevard. But I get ahead of myself, let’s start with the traffic numbers before we visit how to shuffle it around.

Looking back to the comments from an April 24 column I wrote, a reader asked what I thought the traffic impact would be.  I answered my best armchair estimation saying we needed to wait until the professionals delivered their goods.

How’d I do?

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