Preston center skybridge

Laura Miller wrote a note to homeowners inside the Athena, asking them to speak out against Crow Holdings’ proposed Preston Center sky bridge at the June 17 Dallas City Council meeting.

Midday Monday, residents in my high-rise received a double-forwarded note containing a letter I later found out was written by former mayor Laura Miller. The letter (after the jump) makes the case for opposing the sky bridge at Preston Center.

Since moving to Preston Hollow, I’ve noticed that any whiff of development is met with one-sided opposition. I’ve never seen any discussion or debate on whatever proposal is at hand. If it’s development, the knee-jerk seems to be to oppose it without giving the prospect an airing. I like air.

As I did with the latest Transwestern proposal for their much-diminished development on Preston and Northwest highway, I responded to the letter to provide counterbalance to the pointedly negative position.

Anyway, Miller responded to my note and in turn I replied back. You can read the exchanges that were sent to those 137 residents in the email exchange after the jump.

(more…)

7 -7 final.jpg

Newest hot-off- the- press rendering for the proposed development

Is it time to take down the “No! Not in Preston Hollow” signs? Maybe!

Transwestern, the folks building those fancy new luxury apartments over at Northwest Highway and Preston Road, NOT to be confused with the luxury high rise apartment Crosland Group hopes to build IN PRESTON CENTER, has made some major, major concessions to its original plans in an effort to appease the homeowners who are concerned over the proposed changes bringing more dense living to the western edge of the Pink Wall neighborhood.

The density of the proposed project that would replace 24 old rental apartments and 12 townhomes has been significantly reduced.

Change Number 1: The number of units built will be only 165, way down from the original 296. 165 is also only 20 units more that Transwestern could build under current zoning.

Change Number 2: The homeowners who live on Del Norte got their way. Transwestern will only build three-story units in the property segment that runs from Averill Way north to the edge of the property line. This is the area closest to the single family homes on Del Norte. The units built on the property that runs from Averill Way to Northwest Highway will be four stories. That is only 1 story more than current zoning.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Mark M. Culwell, Jr. Transwestern’s Managing Director of  Development. “The process is set up for collaboration — you hope at the end of the day it all produces a good result.”

(more…)

IMG_7232

By the end of yesterday evening’s town hall meeting, the tenor of the discussion regarding Transwestern’s plans for a 220-unit luxury apartment complex at the northeast corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway had become much more nuanced. After a brief presentation from Transwestern’s attorney, Bill Dahlstrom, outlining the development’s updated stats, Kleinman allowed nearby homeowners association leaders and other nearby residents a turn at the mic.

Of course, some people were angry and impassioned, including some that couldn’t wait for their turn to be called on to speak. But the tone was much more quiet once Dahlstrom took the mic to respond, opening up a brief Q&A that was, save for the quiet-yet-furious arm waving, peaceful.

Of course, there were some loud voices, and some pretty famous ones, including former mayor Laura Miller and Lisa Blue Baron, who flew in from her home in Washington, D.C., to be at last night’s meeting. In addition, Michael Jung, an attorney hired by nearby residents pointed out a few interesting facts to the crowd of about 150 to 200 or so people.

(more…)

NE corner Preston Northwest HighwayCharles Sartain  lives on Northwood, has lived there since 1988, and as such is pretty darn close to the proposed Transwestern multi-family development proposed for the northeast corner of Preston and Northwest Highway. But he is thinking outside of the “No” signs we see everywhere. He’s the one who said in a Letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News last week there IS a need for upscale, luxury apartments in the area and he would like to see a traffic study and more information. 

He also says “no negotiations”, as the signs indicate, are not the prevailing opinions in the neighborhood, which stretches from Hillcrest all the way to the Dallas North Tollway, including homeowners with the ’50′s ranches on Northwood to the tree canopied and creek-lined estates of Old Preston Hollow.

Sartain_Charlie_432x262 I caught up with Charles, who is a litigator, by phone. As expected, he tells me he loves his neighborhood and wants the very best for it and his property values. But what he told me sounded a whole lot different from what I have been hearing from others in this neighborhood.

“The people opposed to this project are very much into hyperbole,” he said. “They make many emotional statements that really don’t help a rational debate.”

Charles would like to see that rational debate. Why are we saying no, he asks, when we don’t even know what we are saying “no” to?

“It looks to me like they (a few neighbors) are trying to intimidate Transwestern into going away,” says Charles.

He did not go to the park rally, but he did go to the first meeting at The Black Eyed Pea where Transwestern made it’s introductory attempt to have a cohesive conversation with the neighborhood and explain the development.

“There were three or four in the audience who were openly hostile,” he says. “One lady accused the developer of not telling the truth before the developer even said anything.”

Charles Sartain is happy to have attorney Mike Jung on board, saying he’s smart and reasonable.

“I’m in a question asking mode,” says Charles, ” Not a fighting mode. And I can think of three or four others here who also just want to have questions answered.”

What are those questions?

How will the development REALLY impact the neighborhood traffic, given the congestion on Northwest Highway? Studies that are more than ten years old put the traffic at 23,000 to 57,000 cars per day, though sources tell me it is now more like 80,000. Is adding another 400 to 600 cars to that a drop in the bucket? And will those tenants really be staying at home, or out at second homes, as Transwestern says they will be?

“Traffic is a legitimate concern,” says Charles. “Show me a traffic study, then I might be able to make up my mind.”

Likely there will be traffic studies squared: Transwestern will commission a traffic study, and the Neighborhood will commission one, as well. Cannot wait to see what each reveals.

“I think the Planning Commission and City Councilman Lee Kleinman have an obligation to maintain and improve the city tax base,” says Charles. “To maintain the highest and best use of the property.”

There are other Dallas constituents to consider besides the several dozen north of Northwest Highway with “No” signs in their yards, says Charles. And he saw nothing offensive in the brochure.

I asked him: do you think the development, if it goes forth as planned, will affect your property values on Northwood?

“With a greater value in the real estate here, I think it’s more likely my taxes won’t go up,” he said.

Charles speculates that the city will pull in more taxes from the development, quelling any need to raise tax rates.

Edgemere“Show me where rezoning that corner is going to reduce my property value,” he says. “They said the same thing when the Edgemere was built — didn’t happen. My property values have gone up over the last ten years, not down.”

I asked – do you think this will initiate a Pandora’s Box of zoning nightmares where, if Transwestern obtains a change, other developers will follow suit with panting tongues ready to develope the rest of the garden style apartments Behind the Pink Wall? I have heard reports that Trammell Crow (who bid on Townhouse Row, and Transwestern beat the bid by $2 a square foot) is working on a  deal to buy The Imperial House. At least one owner I spoke with at The Imperial House, who is an editor at The Observer, tells me he would entertain an offer.

“I’m no city planner,” said Charles, ” but I’ve been told that zoning cases are considered one by one, there is no domino effect. Every parcel is looked at on it’s own.”

Though his mind is no where near made up, Charles Sartain is thinking outside of the “No” box, and he says he is not alone by any means. Dallas is getting bigger and bigger, he says, maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if the zoning Behind the Pink Wall is outmoded and NOT good for the city as it is?

The loudest in any battle may not always be the most sensible, and to manage growth in a great city, maybe we need to think of what’s good for Dallas, not just one neighborhood?

NE corner Preston Northwest HighwayCharles Sartain  lives on Northwood, has lived there since 1988, and as such is pretty darn close to the proposed Transwestern multi-family development proposed for the northeast corner of Preston and Northwest Highway. But he is thinking outside of the “No” signs we see everywhere. He’s the one who said in a Letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News last week there IS a need for upscale, luxury apartments in the area and he would like to see a traffic study and more information. 

He also says “no negotiations”, as the signs indicate, are not the prevailing opinions in the neighborhood, which stretches from Hillcrest all the way to the Dallas North Tollway, including homeowners with the ’50′s ranches on Northwood to the tree canopied and creek-lined estates of Old Preston Hollow.

Sartain_Charlie_432x262 I caught up with Charles, who is a litigator, by phone. As expected, he tells me he loves his neighborhood and wants the very best for it and his property values. But what he told me sounded a whole lot different from what I have been hearing from others in this neighborhood.

“The people opposed to this project are very much into hyperbole,” he said. “They make many emotional statements that really don’t help a rational debate.”

Charles would like to see that rational debate. Why are we saying no, he asks, when we don’t even know what we are saying “no” to?

“It looks to me like they (a few neighbors) are trying to intimidate Transwestern into going away,” says Charles.

He did not go to the park rally, but he did go to the first meeting at The Black Eyed Pea where Transwestern made it’s introductory attempt to have a cohesive conversation with the neighborhood and explain the development.

“There were three or four in the audience who were openly hostile,” he says. “One lady accused the developer of not telling the truth before the developer even said anything.”

Charles Sartain is happy to have attorney Mike Jung on board, saying he’s smart and reasonable.

“I’m in a question asking mode,” says Charles, ” Not a fighting mode. And I can think of three or four others here who also just want to have questions answered.”

What are those questions?

How will the development REALLY impact the neighborhood traffic, given the congestion on Northwest Highway? Studies that are more than ten years old put the traffic at 23,000 to 57,000 cars per day, though sources tell me it is now more like 80,000. Is adding another 400 to 600 cars to that a drop in the bucket? And will those tenants really be staying at home, or out at second homes, as Transwestern says they will be?

“Traffic is a legitimate concern,” says Charles. “Show me a traffic study, then I might be able to make up my mind.”

Likely there will be traffic studies squared: Transwestern will commission a traffic study, and the Neighborhood will commission one, as well. Cannot wait to see what each reveals.

“I think the Planning Commission and City Councilman Lee Kleinman have an obligation to maintain and improve the city tax base,” says Charles. “To maintain the highest and best use of the property.”

There are other Dallas constituents to consider besides the several dozen north of Northwest Highway with “No” signs in their yards, says Charles. And he saw nothing offensive in the brochure.

I asked him: do you think the development, if it goes forth as planned, will affect your property values on Northwood?

“With a greater value in the real estate here, I think it’s more likely my taxes won’t go up,” he said.

Charles speculates that the city will pull in more taxes from the development, quelling any need to raise tax rates.

Edgemere“Show me where rezoning that corner is going to reduce my property value,” he says. “They said the same thing when the Edgemere was built — didn’t happen. My property values have gone up over the last ten years, not down.”

I asked – do you think this will initiate a Pandora’s Box of zoning nightmares where, if Transwestern obtains a change, other developers will follow suit with panting tongues ready to develope the rest of the garden style apartments Behind the Pink Wall? I have heard reports that Trammell Crow (who bid on Townhouse Row, and Transwestern beat the bid by $2 a square foot) is working on a  deal to buy The Imperial House. At least one owner I spoke with at The Imperial House, who is an editor at The Observer, tells me he would entertain an offer.

“I’m no city planner,” said Charles, ” but I’ve been told that zoning cases are considered one by one, there is no domino effect. Every parcel is looked at on it’s own.”

Though his mind is no where near made up, Charles Sartain is thinking outside of the “No” box, and he says he is not alone by any means. Dallas is getting bigger and bigger, he says, maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if the zoning Behind the Pink Wall is outmoded and NOT good for the city as it is?

The loudest in any battle may not always be the most sensible, and to manage growth in a great city, maybe we need to think of what’s good for Dallas, not just one neighborhood?

Intrepid reporter Emily Toman at the Preston Hollow Advocate posted this video last week of Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association members gathering to protest Transwestern’s proposed development at Preston Road and Northwest Highway.

Since the project first caught the eyes of nearby residents, the scale has been shaved from 296 to 225 units. Still, residents believe that the scope of the proposed luxury apartment development will add a tremendous amount of traffic to an already congested intersection.

The biggest concern is how an influx of people and cars might affect the often gridlocked stretch along Northwest Highway, possibly prompting drivers to cut through the neighborhoods. Neighbors fear that, if approved, this development would be the first of more big developments to come to that high-profile area.

Landscape site plan Preston and Northwest Highway

Word comes from the great neighborhood reporters at the Preston Hollow Advocate that Transwestern has decided to slim down the scale of its proposed apartment development at Preston Road and Northwest Highway from eight stories to six, shrinking the complex’s size from 296 to 225 units.

For neighbors and members of the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association, that’s a good start. Still, neighbors feel the complex, planned for the northeast corner of the intersection just across the street from Ebby’s Little White House, will add an unbearable amount of traffic to an already congested area.

According to the story from the Advocate, the property’s current zoning allows for just 130 units. Right now there are 24 apartments and 12 condos on the site of the proposed development. So the re-zoning proposal would still add more than six times the existing units. That could mean a lot more traffic in the area, something to which neighbors are vigorously opposed.

“Traffic is the big concern,” PHEHA president Ashley Parks said in the Advocate story. The PHEHA petition has almost 1,050 signatures as of this morning (almost double the amount since our last report), and residents are planning a rally on Saturday at 2:22 p.m. at Preston Hollow Park.

So, do you think Transwestern’s revised re-zoning plan goes far enough to protect the neighborhood from excess traffic? Or are nearby residents blowing the whole thing out of proportion?

Landscape site plan Preston and Northwest Highway

Word comes from the great neighborhood reporters at the Preston Hollow Advocate that Transwestern has decided to slim down the scale of its proposed apartment development at Preston Road and Northwest Highway from eight stories to six, shrinking the complex’s size from 296 to 225 units.

For neighbors and members of the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association, that’s a good start. Still, neighbors feel the complex, planned for the northeast corner of the intersection just across the street from Ebby’s Little White House, will add an unbearable amount of traffic to an already congested area.

According to the story from the Advocate, the property’s current zoning allows for just 130 units. Right now there are 24 apartments and 12 condos on the site of the proposed development. So the re-zoning proposal would still add more than six times the existing units. That could mean a lot more traffic in the area, something to which neighbors are vigorously opposed.

“Traffic is the big concern,” PHEHA president Ashley Parks said in the Advocate story. The PHEHA petition has almost 1,050 signatures as of this morning (almost double the amount since our last report), and residents are planning a rally on Saturday at 2:22 p.m. at Preston Hollow Park.

So, do you think Transwestern’s revised re-zoning plan goes far enough to protect the neighborhood from excess traffic? Or are nearby residents blowing the whole thing out of proportion?