If the Preston Center Parking Corp. doesn’t budge, chances are we’ll be celebrating the garage’s 100th birthday in the year 2055.

Thursday night marked the final public meeting of Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates’ task force studying the revitalization of the Preston Center parking garage. The picture above, snatched from the year 2055, tells the story. The current garage will be celebrating its 100th birthday marked by a vintage car show – fun for the whole family.

I say this because there are two sides that have to agree to move forward. The Preston Center Parking Corp., which controls the usage of the garage, and the city, which owns the land.  While there’s a potential for some fudge on the city side for negotiation, the Parking Corp. has to be in unanimous agreement.

As has been abundantly clear since this first began that the Parking Corp. doesn’t want a park. Their thinking is that every blade of grass is a lost sale. Of course, it goes against any study documenting how parks enhance commercial districts, but we’re post-fact, aren’t we?

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Incorrect and highly misleading graphic used to represent city’s draft proposal

When I first heard about Preston Tower and Athena owners meeting to discuss PD-15, I nicknamed it a “witch burning” and it did not disappoint. Bill Kritzer, the main speaker from Preston Tower, accusingly called out Council Member Jennifer Gates’ name so many times that if she had a dollar for each utterance, she could fund the Preston Center garage out of petty cash.

The troubles of the world were heaped on her shoulders, every real or imagined slight (OK, they were all imagined) dumped on her doorstep. Meanwhile praise was reserved for the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association (PHSNA) and its work for the neighborhood. I find that praise comical. It was PHSNA leadership that gave residents the Laurel apartments – that are universally reviled. So the talk track was that the Laurel process was better because the developer met with PHSNA leadership – but the neighborhood wound up with a building they hate. Somehow that irony was lost on the packed house at the Athena.

The Laurel: hated by a neighborhood that wants more just like it

Also lost on the group was the understanding that the Laurel building they hate is three and four stories – the same height they cheered for. While the biggest example, it was hardly the last piece of incoherent thinking observed. Had their been Kool-Aid, there’d have been a fight for the pitcher.

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Pink Wall “accountants” using the latest technology

Attention developers! Forget LinkedIn — if you’re looking for accountants and financial analysts anxious to help you avoid monetary missteps, look no further than the PD-15 authorized hearing steering committee. Sure, they’re (very) long in the tooth, but last night’s meeting showcased a half hour of endless financial advice and “deep” research into how precisely PD-15 should be developed to avoid catastrophe.  After decades of unending failure, their assistance would be a comfort, no?

To reiterate, it is not the purview of the committee to make amateur stabs in the dark as to what product a developer should build (except that the buildable envelope is capable of supporting a project of reasonable profitability). It’s not up to the committee to decide the appropriate level of risk, the market timing or whether Dallas is overbuilding. The same way you don’t waltz into an operating room and bump the surgeon out of the way.

So the first half hour and untold amounts of oxygen were essentially wasted. Where was the city’s guiding hand of the last meeting?

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Weeks ago, I began telling people that I already knew what should happen to PD-15 to make the most people happy. I said I was going to write it down, put it in an envelope that I would open at the end to see how accurate I was.  Now that I’m not part of the task force, screw it, I’m opening the envelope.

In this first part, I will explain how my plan was formed using some key information.  In the second part, I will go building-by-building and explain how the information in this section informs that plan.

Note: To burst bubbles from the outset, my opinion is based on uplifting the area, not personal gain.  While it’s true I would benefit from any financial uplift, over the past 15 years, there are only two people who paid less per square foot in my building. So I’m good financially.

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Former Dallas mayor Laura Miller working behind the scenes to stall progress.

[Editor’s Note: The opinions reflected in this column are those of the author and are not the editorial opinion of CandysDirt.com. We reached out to Laura Miller for comment. Her response is included at the end of this opinion column.]


Author’s Foreword:  On Wednesday night, I resigned from the PD-15 task force because of behind-the-scenes machinations and actions that I could not agree with once I became aware of them.  Also, I refuse to work with people I can’t trust. This includes representatives from several area buildings, including my own. Those representatives also asked former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller to step in and help their cause. Here’s that story.

Earlier in the evening I was forwarded a letter being crafted by some members of the PD-15 task force but whose pen had been heavily guided by former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller.  I’m told the letter will be sent to council member Jennifer Gates in the coming days. In my capacity as a task force member, my name was listed as a supposed signatory, although I’d not been consulted on its verbiage.

Upon returning home I spoke with my HOA president and co-representative to see if she’d seen the letter.  She had not only seen it, but had been actively involved in its creation.

The letter seeks to put a clamp on any redevelopment within PD-15 that goes against the deeply flawed Preston Center and Northwest Highway Area Plan that was largely hijacked by Miller and written in secret with the help of the business interests in Preston Center.

I believe this is a distraction that does one thing well: it uses the element of time to kill progress. This is a tactic Miller is very familiar with.

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When a document, supposedly crafted for long-term use, proves to be a barrier to the same long-term goals it was created to guide, it’s safe to call it a failure.  If that failure occurs within a year of its adoption by the city, I suppose we can just call that Dallas.

Yes folks, the Preston Center area plan I’d figured for a dust bunny playground has leapt off the shelf in time for Halloween. Like all good frights, I think the authors are just as surprised and perhaps a little scared.

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