[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com. His opinions are his own.]

While Thursday’s meeting fell short of the usual fireworks PD-15 brings about, the City Plan Commission asked some great questions regarding city staff’s proposed changes to PD-15.

In the lead-up to City Plan Commission’s public hearing on staff’s proposal for updating PD-15, staff briefed plan commissioners Thursday morning at Vital. Groups. Knee. Senior Planner Andrew Ruegg, who’s led the process so far, presented essentially the same slides as were shown to the community two weeks ago.

What the few who went to the meeting were most interested in were the questions and comments from the other commissioners. I give a “Hallelujah!” to CPC chair Gloria Tarpley for commenting that the 3-D images shown of the proposed changes would have been welcome at other cases. How the city can be devising “words on paper” documents reflecting 3-D realities without 3-D models has always been a mystery. It should be ante to the game.

The first questions were from District 11 appointee Janie Schultz. First, she was curious whether the requirement for a street lamp every 50-feet was adequate. While boilerplate, staff said they’d look into it. Schultz’ second question concerned the affordable housing sweeteners and whether anyone would use them. The suspicion is that along the northern side they will be unlikely to be used, while on the Northwest Highway side they may if the developer wants to get near tapping any height. It kind of goes to what I’ve been saying that if the buildable envelope doesn’t grow, it’s just cannibalizing market-rate units for affordable units.

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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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PD-15

The run-up to Wednesday’s tenth PD-15 meeting should’ve filled area residents with anger. The self-centered towers were at it again. On Monday, Athena management company ICI Real Estate sent residents an “URGENT!!!” call for Athena residents to attend last night’s meeting (Preston Tower did the same).

It said Bob Bowling from Preston Tower was going to make a motion to dissolve the authorized hearing and send developers directly to City Plan Commission. Athena representative Margaret Darden was scheduled to second the motion after which residents in the audience were encouraged to stand and applaud. It was so kindergarten, I’m surprised there wasn’t a warning about not eating paste.

Their argument consists of the same tired, disproven tropes as always – four high-rises, unprecedented traffic and 10 years of non-stop construction. Blah, blah, blah. If you want to sing that song, read this or this.

NOTE: ICI seriously overstepped their bounds by sending such a loaded, propaganda-filled email to residents under their own account. Darden and Dewberry should have sent their drivel opinions and plans from their own accounts. (Full disclosure: I send email wrap-ups and links to PD-15 stories to residents within the building under my personal account. I have never asked or even thought to involve the management company.)

You may recall back in July, I reported on an email Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association (PHSNA) president John Pritchett sent to committee members where he said they’re “not the A-Team in terms of zoning matters.” Apparently, Towers representatives Bob Bowling, Tatiana Frierson, Margaret Darden and Barbara Dewberry agree with the assessment, so hot are they to disband the committee. It’s almost comical, too. The Laurel apartments on Preston Road and Northwest Highway are pretty universally disliked and yet these representatives are in the same camp as Pritchett, who —to hear him tell it — single-handily led the negotiations for the neighborhood with developer Transwestern.

NOTE: If any member of any committee feels too stupid to do the job, resign and stop trying to crater a process everyone else is working in good faith to complete. (more…)

A Graphic intended to inflame

Last night, the two towers bookending PD-15 held a “Town Hall” meeting to talk about “proposed rezoning” of their low-rise neighbors.  It was ironic to hear the word “neighbors” spoken so frequently by a group who, at the end, raised their hands in favor of continued “towers only” meetings. In this case, “neighbors” really means “us.”

The meeting was run by

  • John Pritchett, Preston Tower resident, PD-15 working group and, secretary and recent president of the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association
  • Carla Young, Athena HOA president and PD-15 working group member
  • Susan Conard, Preston Tower
  • Roger Albright, attorney hired to advise the Athena and Preston Tower in PD-15 matters

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A high-rise condo with custom everything that’s priced well under a million? You’re not dreaming. Rub your eyes, folks and take a gander at this week’s Saturday Eight Hundred.

This Preston Tower condo, made up of four single units, is the largest in the building. It comprises three bedrooms and three full and one half bathrooms in 2,855 square feet and features and incomparable 120 feet of balcony – and the views to go with it. Clocking in at $850,000 this impeccable condo at 6211 W Northwest Highway is listed by Nancy Martinez with Virginia Cook Realtors. It’s a see-to-believe wonder, my friends.

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Back in December 2016, we reported on a lawsuit brought by a Preston Tower resident.  In that case, the HOA board was sued for shifting home repair costs to residents after a 2015 catastrophic flood resulting from an unmaintained water pump. According to court documents, the HOA chose to shift the financial burden away from their own building insurance at the suggestion of that insurance company. Soon after that story was published, that resident won (nothing to do with us, we reported late in the game).

On March 6, 2017, Preston Tower owners Sanjeva and Madhu Khemsara filed suit against Preston Tower for water damage from a different source.  For over two years, their penthouse unit has been the victim of a persistent leak or leaks likely originating on the roof of the building. Like many high-rise roofs, a roof isn’t just a roof.  Over the years, in addition to existing HVAC pipes and equipment, various communications antennas and other equipment have been installed. For every new thing on a roof, there’s the potential to create a tear in the roof’s seal.

The maintenance of the roof and HVAC equipment is (obviously) the responsibility of the HOA, not the resident who lives below. Prior to this suit, court documents state that the Khemsara’s made many requests for repair … for over two years. The plaintiffs claim the results of the repairs were always short-term fixes, sometimes lasting hours. While there is suspicion that HVAC pipes are to blame, no definitive cause has been established.

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Amenity Deck at Turtle Creek's Vendome

Amenity Deck at Turtle Creek’s Vendome

Welcome to our second installment of the Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide as I break-down some of the costs associated with Dallas’ high-rises.  The first installment featured Turtle Creek’s first high-rises where utilities and their costs are contained within their HOA dues.  For this installment, I’m moving north of Northwest Highway to detail the Athena, Preston Tower, Grand Treviso, and The Bonaventure. I know you’re thinking that Grand Treviso is in Irving, not Dallas.  Well, out there on its own, if not me, who?

But before we head north, there’s one more Turtle Creek high-rise that also includes utilities in their HOA dues. Built in 2000, it’s decades newer than its sister-utilities buildings. I’m talking about the Vendome.  Surprised?  Me, too. But last week’s posting was already really long, so here we are.

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"New" logo designed by 30-year resident Robert Emery offers youthful vibe

“New” logo designed by 30-year resident Robert Emery offers youthful vibe

The Pink Wall has been dominated by Preston Tower for 50 years.  Oddly, it’s first residents were welcomed into this modern high-rise in the same year viewers welcomed Star Trek!  Preston Tower is a pinch older than the neighboring Athena, but the Pink Wall’s two-story walk-ups were already swinging when Preston Tower leapt from the ground.  My unofficial guess is that in 1966, at 29 stories, it was the tallest building between Dallas and Oklahoma City.

I had a chance to speak with one of its loooong time residents, Robert Emery, who’s called Preston Tower home for nigh-on 30 years.  Like many happy high-rise residents, he’s bounced around in the building before winding up on top of it all in one of the penthouses. At the precise moment a wet and windy hell broke loose, I was walking over to meet Emery. I can say with confidence that I saw no leaks during my tour.

Preston Tower was built by Hal Anderson (no relation), designed by architect Jacob Anderson (Hal’s brother?), and currently contains 362 units.  In the beginning there were a few more, but over time some units have been combined (high-rise owners can’t build additions, so we absorb our neighbors).

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