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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St. Michael’s 2016 plan to develop Frederick Square

Yesterday, Holly Haber of The Dallas Morning News’ Philanthropy page noted that the Perot family had donated $15 million to the Episcopal School of Dallas. The money is to help ESD’s younger students move from Saint Michael and All Angels Church (in Preston Center) to the main ESD campus on Merrell Road.  The $44.3 million in total contributions so far place fundraising over halfway to the $75 million goal.

All well and good, but how is Saint Michael’s going to replace the income lost from the school?

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8600 Douglas Exterior

If Preston Hollowers felt a disturbance in The Force in June, it was likely the transfer of the latest Preston Hollow estate near Northwest Highway and Preston Road to Mark Cuban.  The billionaire continues his crusade to own the entire northwest quadrant of that intersection.

The property at 8600 Douglas Avenue is the former home of Dallas personal injury attorney Andrew Sommerman.  It was last listed for sale at $4.25 million by Dave Perry-Miller’s Gianna Cerullo.  The home was sold on June 3 for $4.15 million. Ever accurate, DCAD values the home at just $2.813 million after a 5.5 percent rise in 2016, its first since construction. The buyer’s agent was a non-MLS member, likely an attorney.

The 7,169-square-foot David Stocker-designed home (and quarters … and tennis court) was built in 2013 by Tatum Brown and contains four bedrooms and four full baths plus two half baths.  It sits on a 1.76 acre lot.

Shortly after the deed transfer, the home was relisted by Cerullo as a rental for the princely sum of $22,000 per month.  Truthfully, I was going to automatically write that this was the most expensive rental in Dallas because … it just had to be, right? Nope. Checking the MLS, I see it’s only the second most expensive rental in town, falling $500 per month behind 5138 Deloache’s $22,500 per month … one of three rentals currently in the $20K-plus-per-month club.

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Ritz Rendering

The Ritz Residences’ (fraternal) twin towers

Part 3 continues … and ends … my self-serving, completely subjective high-rise awards based on equally dubious categories.  Click here if you missed Part 1 or Part 2.

8. Best Private Club Feel: Ritz Residences

Ritz Lobby 1  (more…)

IMG_2143

I read about this Tuesday: why would the city spend $4.6 million to put a hideous pedestrian walkway connecting an empty lot to an auto parts store across the street? Is this what our city geniuses envision for Preston Center?

Robert Wilonsky did some heavy digging on the “bridge to nowhere” for the Dallas Morning News, and says it’s pretty awful. So I went over to take a look for myself late Wednesday afternoon.

He’s right, it’s awful and ugly. Wilonsky says he lives nearby — he lives in Sparkman, near where we used to live on Ainsworth, between Royal Lane and Walnut Hill near Marsh. So I kind of know this area, or what it used to be. Used to drive Harry Hines to take my daughter to gymnastics, and my husband still likes some high cholesterol breakfast place over there we used to frequent during Parkland residency/skinnier days. And once upon a time a Chinese family who were his patients fed us royally at the Happy Family restaurant on Walnut Hill Lane. Happy story — their daughter is now a physician in Houston. The area really hasn’t changed that much, good food, still seedy. This pedestrian walkway bridge is anchored on the east by a dilapidated shopping center where I used to take my typewriter for repairs.

There, that’s aging me! That store is long gone.

In fact, as I drove by today, I thought gee, maybe there’s some Medical District type residential dirt turning going on over here I’m missing.

Across the street from the bridge, south west corner, is a cemetery.

The ugliest part of it is the handicap ramp that zig zags down on either side to be ADA compliant.

IMG_2144Who thought of this thing? Why is it here? (more…)

Plan 1 SM

Last night’s Preston Center Task Force meeting laid bare their purpose — development.  It’s funny how way back when, this body was begun to study traffic and parking in the Preston Center area and yet, as we’ll see, these critical concerns from neighbors have been kinda pushed into the back seat by development.

Back in February 2015, I outlined the need for a Zone Zero that would concentrate on developing the overarching calculations for what’s possible given the current infrastructure.  How could existing roads best be optimized?  What traffic patterns need to emerge? Once you’d optimized raw traffic flows, then you could measure impacts of development and resulting capacity increases against that baseline.  Roadway optimization is something that must be done before development impacts are assessed.

Last night, near the end of the meeting we saw one slide outlining the three-stage project TXDoT and NCTCOG will be embarking on IN THE FUTURE to address the optimization of traffic flow (here’s my plan from July 2015) and the central parking garage.  Their work will be barely begun as the Preston Center Task Force draws its last breath in June.  The Task Force was invited to be a part of that new project but several members responded that this “was beyond their scope of work.”

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Task Force Title SM

UPDATE:  Both D Magazine’s Frontburner and Dallas Morning News’ City Hall Blog referenced this posting today.

 

The session on Feb. 16 was different from the recent Preston Center Task Force meetings. Nearly all the task force members were there … and about 50 residents showed up as well! Before I run through the high points, a pair of interesting things …

During the meeting, I was paying particular attention to Laura Miller, as she tends to speak often and with some authority. I’m not sure if her demeanor had softened with the blue jeans she was wearing, but at some point I realized she’s smart-smart versus just opportunistic-political-smart. I’m not saying I completely agree with her, but she connects the dots quicker than most. And lately, I’ve been in too many rooms filled with people unable to connect the dots.

Secondly, after the meeting I approached councilwoman Gates to make a (constructive) suggestion (that I’ll get to later) and her preemptive question was to ask if what was said tonight matched up with the plan I’d crafted oh so many months ago. “Kinda” I said, caught a little off guard. (In truth, I’ve said I don’t have the resources to drill into development comparisons as these consultants have, but my plan and conclusions have a lot of similarities.)

Anyway …

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St-Michaels-Master-Plan-2

In researching the latest doings at Preston Center, I also delved into the zoning maps handily provided by the Task Force. They show that St. Michael’s parking lot on Frederick Square is currently zoned straight MF-1(A) which limits height to 36 feet (three stories). However, the other end of that block contains 8100 Lomo Alto and it’s part of Tract 2 of the Preston Center PD 314. And that’s where it starts to get interesting …

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