2020-2021 PHSNA Board posted October 27, 2019

Members of CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development), the group that was against changes to PD-15, has taken over the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association. The stacked deck appears to be an attempt to gain leverage with a city government that’s moved on.

At the end of the City Council vote on PD-15 redevelopment, University Park resident and Pink Wall eight-plex apartment owner, Steve Dawson, told council they hadn’t seen the last of the protesters. After the unanimous passage of the zoning changes, Dawson told the Dallas Morning News that “they would take the next week or two to consider their legal options,” and that they could “request a legal injunction to stop development from proceeding while the lawsuit was pending.”

According to an excruciatingly detailed email circulating through the neighborhood by Claire Stanard, a former PHSNA board member, Dawson also threatened Council Member Jennifer Gates: “he intended to sue her personally for ethics violations using the power of the three attorneys in his family and planned to get Northwest Parkway blockaded in order to prevent construction equipment from entering, and intended to sue the City over abandoning the Area Plan.”

Stanards’ email continues, “I was also sent a text by Steve Dawson saying that he was upset by the fact that Jennifer Gates had finally done something positive for the neighborhood in agreeing to the opening of Tulane Road to Northwest Highway on Sept. 5 and honoring her commitment to the RPS.” [Note: RPS is Residential Proximity Slope, a city ordinance that controls height near certain residential neighborhoods.)

City Hall sources tell me that Dawson’s years of unending opposition to any form of development have left him little political capital. And yet, at this pivotal time for the Pink Wall, when moving smoothly forward with a functioning conduit to City Hall is crucial, the PHSNA appoints Dawson as its president.

Usually, I’d have said he was elected, but sources say that’s not what happened.

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Dallas City Council chambers were not as packed as expected on Sept. 11, 2019, as PD-15 came up on the agenda.

  • Dallas City Council unanimously passed city staff’s plan for PD-15, which compromised on height, topping out at 240 feet.
  • Some small changes were made to the plan.

The general wisdom is that any city council vote requiring a supermajority due to opposition will be a nail-biter. And while certainly many a nail was chewed to the quick, it was all for naught. After blissfully little speech-a-fying on both sides, Dallas City Council voted unanimously to pass city staff’s sorta plan for 240-foot heights on Northwest Highway – instead of the full cherry-on-top 310-foot heights Plan Commission had passed one vote shy of unanimously.

Will this result in affordable housing? Unlikely. And that’s a pity.

Councilmember Jennifer Gates listed a slew of minor tinkers to the staff recommendation that I’ll have to get to later (I can’t write as fast as she can rattle off). But generally, it’s 240-feet across Northwest Highway and 96-feet behind. Assuming a 10-foot ceiling height, that’s essentially 21-stories and eight-stories.

While some in the neighborhood might say it’s too much, I will say it’s a heck of a lot less than was proposed decades ago. And it’s a bit sad to live in a future that’s less bold than yesterday.

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Back in June when the results of the PD-15 traffic study were presented, Winstead attorney Tommy Mann noted that if the neighborhood wanted Tulane Blvd. opened to Northwest Highway, they needed to seize “lightning in a bottle.”

Mann represents Preston Place owners, which paid for the traffic study.

What Mann was saying was that with all the focus on rewriting the antiquated PD, there would be no better time to get the right people in the room to figure this out. Those people finally got into a room last Thursday led by Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association city liaison Claire Stanard.

The meeting included council member Jennifer Gates, Michael Morris of North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG), Mo Bur of TxDOT and two of his colleagues, plus David Nevarez, senior traffic engineer for the City of Dallas.

Stanard’s overarching point was that given that the parcels within PD-15 would likely be developed by multiple developers, there needed to be a master plan for how traffic would function as a whole. Otherwise, the developers might not come together for the heavy lifting of opening Tulane Blvd. to flush traffic directly on/off Northwest Highway instead of circuitous routes through the neighborhood.

It’s an idea I floated a year ago and have continuously supported. Stanard took the “lightening in a bottle” and ran with it.

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6307 Bandera Ave. Unit 6307C

When this crossed my desk, I immediately liked this idea. Agents from multiple brokerages representing the (lucky) 13 properties got together and devised a simultaneous open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 18. Think of it as a home tour, but you can actually buy the house you fall in love with.  And the Pink Wall is compact enough that you don’t need fussy tickets or an afternoon of waiting for the next bus to show up.

And yes, one listing begins “Rarely available” with 12 other properties within a two-block radius and three in the same building. Another knows its unit’s catnip blaring “ONE PARKING SPACE & UTILITIES INCLUDED” as its opener (but I digress).

Twelve of the properties are contained in the plethora of two-story buildings that line tree-lined streets. The listings also showcase the neighborhood’s bread and butter of two-bedroom units. Some have two bathrooms, while others pick up the half bath for visitors. They range in price from $259,000 to $695,000 and from 1,130 to 2,659 square feet in size. Most are also under $200 per square foot.

If you’re smart, you’ll strap on your Keds and see them all, but here’s my short list.

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By Barbara Dewberry
Guest Contributor
 
Last week in a CandysDirt.com column, Jon Anderson stated in reference to the Jennifer Gates called community meeting on August 7th that I said that, “the neighborhood doesn’t want green space.
 
In fact, I said “We don’t want a public park,” and many people heard this.  The four acres that are proposed to be developed is too small to dedicate land to a public park and also the City has said they will not maintain it.  Thus, to have a park that outsiders will discover and have picnics, kiddie birthdays, and bring dogs and not pick up, will be an invasion into our now quiet neighborhood.  It will be very expensive to maintain.
 
I have always advocated green space around the buildings like that of the Preston Tower and the Athena which allows permeable space, which will be helpful in stopping run-off flooding.  PD-15 is experiencing flooding already and this needs to be addressed before anything is built.  I, with our neighbors, have demanded a 100-foot setback for any buildings facing South toward NW Hwy.  This would allow for more green space, guest parking and save several vintage Live Oak trees.  Our small 4 acres to be developed is not large enough to dedicate 1/3 acre to a park.  Besides, there is a lovely park at Hillcrest and W. NW Hwy.  Also I have always championed green roofs on any buildings that are built in PD- 15. We are demanding for a right in and right out opening to be made in the Pink Wall so that construction vehicles will not be wandering around decimating streets we own and breaking tree limbs.
 
The proposed park is just another device that the developers use to get additional height and density which the neighborhood is against.
 

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PD-15 Map

At Wednesday’s Dallas City Council hearing, the same arguments surrounding the planned development district behind the Pink Wall were shouted, but nothing changed.

If I could sum up the bizarre and illogical nature of the PD-15 opposition to development, it would be when the Athena’s Barbara Dewberry stood up and (again) shouted that the neighborhood doesn’t want green space that will attract outsiders. Making it more worthy of eye-rolling were those who clapped in support (although a few seated in back of me said they welcomed green space in PD-15’s concrete jungle).

Not to be outdone, about a quarter to a third of the audience clapped when council member Jennifer Gates said that if nothing comes from the Authorized Hearing, nothing would be built because what could be built isn’t economically viable.

Of course, before we got to the more brouhaha-y part of the meeting, we listened to an overview of Plan Commission’s approved document and city staff’s rewrite of their rewrite. Even as much as I’ve studied these documents — it was a rough half-hour — I can imagine it sounded like a foreign film without subtitles for most attendees.

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Will the city stop playing politics and do what’s right to help the Pink Wall’s PD-15 get the update it deserves? 

Beginning in April 2018, city staff ran the Authorized Hearing process working with the Pink Wall’s PD-15 committee. The Authorized Hearing process, whereby the city oversees a community response to zoning changes, was kicked off because the original 2017 neighborhood committee stalemated. That stalemate can be blamed on the intractable NIMBYism of the Athena and Preston Tower (catch-up on last meeting here). The Authorized Hearing ended in a similar stalemate. At that point, November 2018, city staff was asked by council member Jennifer Gates to write the changes they’d propose to make to update the decades-old PD-15.

Of course, the “N” in NIMBY stands for “Not” and that pretty much summed up the towers’ response.

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Photos courtesy Full Package Media

The Athena is one of those buildings with really good, quite large floorplans coupled with HOA dues that pay for everything including utilities, cable, and internet. Located in Preston Hollow, it’s perfect for those downsizers not wanting to leave the area as well as those seeking easy access to the Dallas Tollway and Central. However, being an older building, finding a renovated unit isn’t always easy.

Enter unit 1111, soon to be on the market. And if I seem to be a bit enthusiastic about this place, I come by it honestly — it’s the home I put my heart and soul into remodeling. A new job means it’s time to move on to my next renovation (in the Metroplex).

What was once a three bedroom, three bathroom unit has been reconfigured into a more spacious two bedroom and three bathroom unit. It boasts 1,899 square feet, plus it is one of the rare units with its glorious 28-foot long balcony intact.

Note: Those familiar with the Athena will know the original walls were heavily textured (crow’s foot) – this unit has smooth walls and no popcorn ceilings. The property will be listed by Robert Blackman at Solvent Realty Group.

As you can see from the picture above, there’s a lot more that’s was done during its stem-to-stern renovation. Let’s have a look …

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