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  • June 29, 2018 2:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Jon Anderson
    Candysdirt.com

    No, it’s not a time warp, PD-15 is meeting again. After devolving into immovable factions last autumn, the neighborhood is back at the table … with a difference.  First, the city is guiding the process to ensure information is accurate and decorum is kept. The second difference is that this new group doesn’t contain any of the rabble-rousers from the last time. The hope is for a more balanced conversation and outcome for the neighborhood.

    This first meeting was no barn-burner. Planners from the city’s Sustainable Development office led the discussion reviewing the current conditions of the PD-15 area and how things evolved over the years to get there.  Council member Jennifer Gates was also on hand to advise the group on city processes and share her experience with some of the concepts discussed.

    I think the air was definitely let out of the anti-authorized hearing camp who had spread propaganda claiming the city would show up with a jumbo development plan to whip the committee into approving.

    Instead, senior planner Andrew Ruegg walked the committee through the PD-15 documents and the city’s interpretation of their contents (the scant four pages of text and two diagrams). The reason the city is interpreting at all is because PD-15 is a quite imprecise compared to today’s PD documentation requirements. It shouldn’t be a shock that the 15th of anything is less good than the 1,000th … and today the city has close to 1,000 PDs.

    The questions were about the level you’d expect and certainly indicative of a group that’s taking their task seriously. For example, the difference between a major and minor amendment to the PD. The most recent minor amendment was in 2010 when Preston Tower removed their second tennis court and used the space for additional parking. Minor amendments don’t require Plan Commission and city council approval. Major amendments – changing building footprint, height, etc. – do require full city approval and the reason they’re at the table.

    Another asked whether the Pink Wall itself was changeable. Before the gnashing of teeth, I walk on the outside of the Pink Wall on occasion and its foundations are higher than the road bed and exposed. Changing the wall may be needed to level and improve its stability in the future.

    The city didn’t immediately have an answer. However, I recall from my investigations that the Pink Wall west of Pickwick Lane to The Laurel is protected by the deed restrictions covering those parcels (As I recall, The Laurel was able to remove their section because their lots weren’t covered by the deed restrictions). The section running from Preston Tower to the Athena isn’t protected separately as it’s on land owned by the buildings fronting Northwest Highway (whose lots extend to Northwest Highway).

    At one point the question came about permissible uses. It was noted that the PD included specific uses for the commercial condos on the first two floors of Preston Tower. This started a discussion of whether mixed-uses should be allowed on a ground floor of a residential building. Few warmed to the idea and the Preston Tower representative pointed out that the type of business suggested (a café or coffee shop) had been tried in the past and that there wasn’t enough foot or car traffic to sustain it.

    In fact, waaay back there was a grocery store, pharmacy and even a supper club called Chez Arthur on the eastern end of Preston Tower and a 7 Eleven on the western end. I agree that a lone café within a residential district is unlikely to succeed.

    For those reading who didn’t attend, the committee will meet as needed (five scheduled, but may require more) before presenting their recommendations to the neighborhood at a separate meeting. If there’s enough peachiness, it goes into City Hall to be heard and approved (or denied) by the plan commission and city council. Council member Gates indicated that the process from start to final approval could take six months or so.

    Also, the sessions are recorded and will be posted online along with a summary of the meeting. You can find them, and all other materials used, at both the Sustainable Development and Council member Gates’ websites listed below.

    For those wanting to keep abreast of the situation, here are a few links:

    Nest meeting: July 11th at 6pm at the Walnut Hill Recreation Center (map). See you there.

    Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

  • June 22, 2018 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ParkCitiesPeople
    by Timothy Glaze · June 20, 2018


    The Urban Land Institute has increased its presence in Dallas for the last month, as the nonprofit organization focuses on ways to make the city and its suburbs more walkable.

    Officials estimate that nearly 98 percent of Dallas and Fort Worth’s incorporated land requires everyday car use to get from place to place. But by digging a little deeper, it’s possible to find pockets of land within the area that could be walkable urban places, said ULI volunteer Scott Polikov, who also works for Gateway Planning.

    The use of public transportation in Dallas has skyrocketed in the past five years, leading more people to leave their cars at home and opt for trains – especially DART, which has several lines running through the city and its suburbs. That in turn is encouraging citizens to seek out walkable places, Polikov said.

    “[Public transportation] is something that’s so great for this area, and the more people use it, the more of an impact we’ll start to see on our urban areas,” he said.

    “There’s a real chance to have, in a way, a village-like feel depending on what we do.” -Scott Polikov”


    In April and May, ULI gave presentations in Dallas on creating value in real estate development, the future of transit-oriented development, and a signature event focused on wellness, hotel development, multifamily use, and transportation. Presentations regarding the addition of more buildings all included use of greenspace.

    One such area, the Statler Hotel at the intersection of Commerce and Harwood, was recently awarded the ULI’s Next Big Idea honor. The renovations will include a more environmentally-friendly building worth more than $200 million, and represents an effort by local architects to continue developing in Dallas while also maintaining environmental health.

    Polikov pointed to the success some areas have enjoyed in terms of walkability – specifically, the Preston Hollow area and the Park Cities. Highland Park, for example, is a town catered to walking with its’ tight-knit neighborhoods, multiple parks, schools close to homes, and a centrally-located shopping center.

    The town maintains its walkable attributes despite being in between two major highways and a just a short drive north from downtown.

    “Dallas has the potential to be a strong walking city,” Polikov said. “There’s a real chance to have, in a way, a village-like feel depending on what we do in terms of greenspace. ULI works all over the country, and Dallas has as much potential as any other city.”

    In the meantime, walkable developments are springing up all over North Texas, including Uptown, Plano, Richardson, and McKinney. It’s an attractive feature to current and prospective residents, Polikov said.

    “The overall landscape of [Dallas and the surrounding areas] really allows for more walkable opportunities,” he said.


    View article online

  • May 24, 2018 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Jon Anderson
    Candysdirt.com

    by Jon Anderson

    Yesterday afternoon, the people selected to be part of the PD-15 authorized hearing committee were posted. Kudos to council member Jennifer Gates for keeping her promise to exclude those opposed to the authorized hearing process, who would likely seek to sabotage the proceedings from within.

    You will note that the towers have two representatives on the committee. This was done in recognition of the land mass of PD-15. Roughly the towers and the four low-rises each sit on six acres and and so there are four representatives for each camp. This makes for an interesting group. Within the PD, neither side can outvote the other, so collaboration will be required. Also, the three “wild card” members from Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association and two neighboring buildings are just that, wild cards. How will they feel about the various development plans and options?  I think the pulse of the group will be taken in the first few meetings.

    City Planning and Zoning

    City staff has also been busy updating and adding a couple of documents to their collection (posted here). To quell questions about the authorized hearing process, a flow chart was posted outlining the steps the authorized hearing will take. Please don’t assume that the numbers somehow equate to a timeline.

    Right-click, “view image” for full size image or use link below to download a copy.

    There’s nothing new in this document, it’s just a cheat sheet for those wanting to better understand the process. It goes into detail of what each step entails as the committee navigates the process.  Feel free to download your personal copy suitable for purse or billfold.

    City Staff Drops a (Minor) Zoning Bombshell

    The image above is a close-up of the current PD-15 development plan. In the past we’d been told that because of the limitation on dwelling units per acre that buildings could only replace what they had (unless they got unanimous permission to utilize the 60-ish surplus units OR updated PD-15).

    Unlike the rest of PD-15, tract 2 (Diplomat) has no specified height limit

    But what city staff are now saying in their FAQ document is that building height is also capped because the development plan lists the heights of the buildings in PD-15 … except one. While Preston Place lists three stories and both Royal Orleans and Diamond Head Condos list two stories, the Diplomat, sitting on tract 3 doesn’t list a height. City staff interprets this as meaning that only Diplomat has the ability to go above its existing two-story construction.

    I called this a minor bombshell because ultimately it’s meaningless as even with unlimited height, Diplomat is still limited by the dwelling unit cap and floor-area-ratio (4:1).

    Getting Your Say

    Regardless of whatever is decided by the (open to the public) committee, it still requires any changes to go through the typical zoning process. Property owners within 200 feet of PD-15 will be notified of the changes and receive a form to mail back to the city to “support” or “oppose.” Should there be more than 20 percent opposition, any action by city council would require a super-majority of 75 percent of council members to vote “yes” (12 votes). That’s a pretty high bar.

    For Pink Wall, and especially PD-15 residents, it’s imperative that your HOA insert language into your HOA documents that enables individual units to vote. Otherwise, it’s your HOA board that makes the decision for everyone — they don’t even have to ask their owners. Not very democratic, but there you are. An attorney could draw up the appropriate language in an hour I’d guess.  If your HOA balks at doing this, you know their decision has been made and you’re likely in trouble.

    Doom And Gloom

    If the committee’s proposal goes down in flames, everything stays as-is. This means that the four low-rises would have to come to an accommodation to divvy the 60-ish surplus units. Before you get giddy at the prospect, understand that if Preston Place’s current offer is for $18 million based on the ability to build 220 units (the prevailing rumor), at 80 units (current 60 + their land-based allotment of the surplus), the cost of their land drops to $6.5 million. Instead of their homes being valued at roughly $300,000 each, they’d be worth $109,000.

    Diplomat’s one-acre parcel that A.G. Spanos wants to build 120 units on would essentially drop 80 percent in value on an allotment of 25 units (existing 15 + 10 allotment of surplus units).

    This would have a negative impact on PD-15 and the rest of the Pink Wall. No developer is going to buy the impaired land and construct million-dollar townhomes. One only has to look at the failure of the Park Hollow development to see no one is making that mistake anytime soon.

    The quality of the resulting projects would not add to the value of remaining complexes. Developers wouldn’t give a penny to neighborhood enhancements. The resulting minimal construction wouldn’t attract city attention to existing problems. Sure, there’d be less density, but at what overall cost?

    Ray of Light

    On the upside, this doomsday doesn’t have to happen. What’s great about the timing here is that the PD-15 committee are very unlikely to be feeling their way in the dark. It behooves developers to have their plans nailed down and present their best to the committee for specific approvals. Otherwise, a future developer is stuck with whatever the committee decides. It’s a cinch this process isn’t going to be reopened anytime soon after this process is complete.

    I, for one, look forward to seeing what will be proposed and what solutions (and money) the developers and the city can come to the table with to help solve some of the area’s problems. If they’re awful, I’ll vote “no,” but if they’re great, wouldn’t that be great?

    Note to developers: Bring your “A+” game.


    View article at Candysdirt.com

  • May 15, 2018 7:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dallas Morning News Editorial
    View article online

    The old joke was that the official bird of Texas must be the crane, because of all of the construction underway. There may be some truth to that, but one essential component of urban development in Dallas that is too often neglected is the construction of new parks for all city residents to enjoy.

    So it is encouraging that the City Council will be presented with a plan Wednesday to create a new and long-term source of support for building parks in Dallas. We hope the council supports the plan.

    In brief, the plan would require Dallas developers to offset new hotels and housing developments by paying into a new parks fund or setting land aside.

    Why is this good for Dallas? The reason is simple. Dallas is growing in terms of development and population, but it isn't keeping pace in terms of adding parks, trails and green space. Among the 10 largest cities in America, only Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix score worse on the annual list put out by the Trust for Public Land. Among the largest 100 cities, we rank 50th.

    And as we grow, it will only get harder to create parks unless we take steps now to set aside funds and land. In the parlance of the trade, it's hard to build a new park in an already "built" environment.

    In this case, the proposal being offered to the council has been kicking around for a long time. It has been approved unanimously by the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. Developers and other stakeholders have been hashing out compromises for months. And the city's quality-of-life committee has been briefed on the idea five times since 2017.

    The proposal would require developers to pay a fee depending on the size of a project or to pay a smaller fee and set aside some land for parks.

    Those funds would be pooled and spent on parks near the developments that generated the fee. Fees generated in the downtown zone could be spent citywide on the trails that stitch Dallas together.

    Dallas has made do without these fees for decades longer than many other cities in Texas, including Plano and other neighboring communities. And we are typically skeptical of mandatory fees, but in this case we believe Dallas needs to pull private developers into the process if it is to have the park land needed to ensure it is a city of the first order for generations to come.

    The risk is that opponents effectively derail this plan through needless delay. We hope the council hears out all objections. But we also hope it moves forward before its July break to support a plan that ensures Dallas can build the parks it will need in the decades ahead.

    What's in the plan?

    * Divides Dallas into seven zones. Park fees paid by developers will be used within the same zone.

    * Exception would be in the zone including downtown, Uptown, the Design District and the Cedars neighborhood. Those funds could be spent developing Dallas' citywide trails network.

    * Fees would depend on the number and type of unit developed. For example, for single-family developments, the fee would be $1,165 per house; for multifamily, $457 per one-bedroom unit. 

    * Developers could opt to donate land instead or to develop private park lands within the project, as long as it was accessible to the public.

    What's your view? 

    Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

    View article online

  • May 10, 2018 2:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Loyd Brumfield, Breaking News producer
    Dallas News

    Two armed men are at large after robbing a Capital One bank Wednesday in northwest Dallas.

    The robbery happened about 10:15 a.m. at the bank in the 5300 block of Forest Lane, police said. One of the gunmen jumped over the teller's counter and demanded money.

    The second man forced employees seated in the lobby to walk over to the teller's counter, and then both robbers fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.

    One man is described as black, about 5 feet 8 and wearing all black, including a black ski mask.

    The second man is described as black, in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall and about 200 pounds. He was wearing a purple long-sleeve hoodie, gray cap and white sweatpants, police said.

    Anyone with information should contact the FBI at 972-559-5000 or Dallas police at 214-797-0296.

  • May 01, 2018 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jamie Thompson
    Published in D Magazine May 2018
    Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

    Reneé Hall is the first woman to run the department. She’s not so sure Dallas is ready for that.

    On paper she wasn’t a front-runner, but last summer U. Reneé Hall came to Dallas and charmed the city manager and council members by being approachable and funny and smart and, yes, though we’re not supposed to mention it, attractive, too. A fit 140 pounds at 47 years old, she can hold three-minute planks and outshoot many beat cops on the firing range. She collects handguns and vintage gowns and Louis Vuitton bags. She loves being a cop, and she loves being a woman. It’s the feminine stuff, she thinks, that has dogged her as Dallas’ first female police chief. That and the color of her skin. But more on that later.

    Start with the “pedicure shoes incident.” Here’s how Hall tells the story: it was a Saturday in November. She’d been working 17-hour days. She’d gone to a roll call that morning at 8, and now she was off-duty. She wanted to get a manicure and pedicure and relax. She’d just dipped her feet into a tub of water when a member of her security detail ran into the salon and told her a SWAT officer had shot himself in the leg during a raid. Hall took her feet out of the water, and the nail technician gave her plastic slippers. She climbed into the back of an unmarked black SUV and raced to Parkland Hospital.

    In the officer’s room, Hall hugged family members around the bed. “Chief, I’m so sorry,” the injured officer told her, embarrassed about his misfire.

    “Hey, you’ve got nothing to apologize for,” she told him. “Those rumors about me making SWAT a part-time team? That’s out the window. You guys clearly need training.” Everyone laughed. Then Hall got serious. “Are you good?” she asked the officer.

    “Yeah, Chief, I’m good.”

    Someone noticed the slippers Hall was still wearing and said, “Don’t step on the chief’s toes. They’re not finished yet.” More laughter.

    Hall didn’t think anything of it. She went back to the salon and finished her pedicure. But days later, she heard that stories were circulating around the department: Chief showed up at the hospital in pedicure slippers!

    “It was like I’d flown down on a unicorn or something,” Hall told me recently. To her mind, the conversation should have been about how great it was that the chief had stopped what she was doing on a Saturday and had gone straight to the hospital. Don’t male cops get haircuts on their days off? Trim their beards? “They’ve never seen a woman in this role. It’s always been a man. So they’re not processing the pedicure shoes. That’s what women do. We get pedicures. I’m a girl. There’s hair, makeup, nails and toes.”

    Hall has talked about the pedicure incident at substations across the city, where she attends roll calls to meet the officers under her command. Not long ago, a cop at Southwest asked what Hall was doing to improve morale across the struggling department.

    “It’s never enough,” she told him. “When I got here, you guys wanted beards. I gave you beards. You wanted outer vest carriers. I got those. You talked about never seeing the police chief in the past. I showed up at the hospital when someone was injured, and it wasn’t enough because I had on pedicure shoes.” The cops laughed. “Whatever I do, it’s never enough,” she told them. “At some point, you’ve got to stop looking at me to improve morale. And you’ve got to start looking at yourselves.”

    Read Entire Article Online

  • April 27, 2018 1:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Jon Anderson
    candysdirt.com

    Packed House at Park Cities Baptist Church

    If you’ve been following along in your prayer books, you know that over a year ago the Preston Place condos burned. You may also know about the failed attempt at negotiating an area redevelopment plan. I’ll even toss in bonus points if you’re aware of the Athena and Preston Tower working with former mayor Laura Miller to stymie everything.

    All caught up?  Good …

    Last night, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates assembled the neighborhood to discuss the history and next steps in the process. What was a surprise to most was that the authorized hearing, first mentioned last summer as having a two or three year waiting list, had been bumped up in the schedule and was beginning immediately. Gates made available applications for representatives on the authorized hearing committee.

    But I get ahead of myself.

    PD-15 with Northwest Highway to the south

    Full Disclosure: I live in PD-15, and the publisher of this blog, Candy Evans, owns a unit at The Seville on Averill Way.

    According to the city planning representatives, the concept of what became Planned Development District number 15 (PD-15) began in 1947 but was only called a PD when PDs were begun in the 1960s.  Prior to its official PD designation, the area was zoned for commercial development, which also allows residential construction. It was during the official PD designation in the 1960s that the zoning was changed to its current MF-3 (multi-family 3) under section 51 (not today’s 51-A) zoning parameters.

    Unbuilt 1970s high-rise proposed on Preston Place lot

    MF-3 under section 51 allows for unlimited height, 60 percent lot coverage, various setbacks and other parameters.  Overlaying that are the PD-15 documents that limit the number of dwelling units possible in PD-15. There are currently between 60-65 unbuilt units available (the leftover from a failed high-rise project on the Preston Place lot in the early 1970s).

    Those 60-65 surplus units are now a shared resource among all members of PD-15 and all would have to agree to allow another parcel to utilize them. The only way a property can be redeveloped without a zoning hearing would be to rebuild the same number of units as currently exist or get the members of PD-15 to unanimously agree to change the PD’s parameters.

    Last summer the PD-15 working group assembled by Gates tried to come up with just such an accommodation that the buildings would all agree to. The process bogged down into two sides equally unwilling to compromise.

    Because of all this, a developer can’t just file a zoning case with the city for a specific project (as they usually do), seeking more than the existing dwelling units listed in the PD documents. In Preston Place’s case that would be 60 units on a two-acre plot and 15 units on Diplomat’s one-acre — numbers that are completely unrealistic given land values and the quality of building expected by the neighborhood.

    Enter the Authorized Hearing

    An authorized hearing is when the city instigates a look into the appropriate zoning for a given area. The city assembles a contingent of area residents to meet and hammer out an agreement, with the city acting as information resource and mediator. The outcome can be to leave the area untouched or to make specific accommodations in return for givebacks from developers.

    And that’s where I reside. Camp Negotiate.

    Once questions and comments were heard, the expected dire predictions of overcrowding and its resulting traffic were heard. Somehow, redevelopment of these few parcels was thought to have a huge impact on Northwest Highway and Preston Road traffic.  That intersection sees tens of thousands of cars each rush hour. The increased traffic from those few hundreds of new apartments amount to a rounding error.

    Now internal roads?  Absolutely there will be impacts. But it’s up to the neighborhood representatives in the authorized hearing to negotiate solutions for new projects (if this, then that). Ditto parking, flooding, and all the other Pink Wall woes. Ultimately, not everything can or will be fixed (there’s simply not enough money in these few deals), but the area will be better off than it would be without a successful negotiation.

    The most galling sentiment was that somehow the authorized hearing took away residents’ rights. Poppycock. Yes, the authorized hearing removes the requirement of unanimous PD-15 approval for changes, but given the contentious, non-negotiable attitudes of those working group members, “unanimous” was never really in the cards.

    The Preston Road and Northwest Highway Area Plan Noose

    Many spoke in a reverence for the Area Plan, perfectly at home in the Baptist church’s fellowship hall. Cheers were shouted anytime a speaker mentioned support for the plan and its recommendations. Area Plan task force members Steve Dawson and former mayor Laura Miller seemed to place the plan in the same pantheon as Mom’s apple pie and baseball. Neither are Pink Wall residents. Neither are towers residents (Miller’s husband inherited his mother’s Athena unit that they rent but have never lived in, see here). Neither stumped for towers’ representation on the Preston Center task force they sat on while deciding the area’s fate. 

    Side note: It was funny to hear Dawson wax about the preciousness of the neighborhood and then have to grudgingly answer an audience chant of “Where do you live?”

    Answer: University Park.  

    I finally had to get up and have a say (something I rarely do). I pointed out the truth Gates was unwilling or unable to admit. Namely that there are no financial underpinnings in the Preston Center plan to support any of its conclusions (here, here). There is more math in the following few paragraphs than exists in the 95-page Preston Center Plan.

    Because of this, I told those cheering for four-story construction while booing the ugliness of The Laurel apartments on the corner, that quality matters. If they want Laurel clones, by all means beat the area down to four stories, but zip-it later when you don’t like the results. After all, assuming a 20 percent profit margin, every dollar the neighborhood beats out of a project removes 80 cents in quality from the construction. Construction margins don’t decrease, construction quality does.

    Miller Greed Shames Preston Place Owners

    During Miller’s comment, she said that a supposed contingent-free offer to purchase Preston Place for $12 million was turned down in lieu of the current $18 million contingent offer from Provident. (It’s been known that Leland Burk, a friend of Miller and also in the audience, put in an offer to purchase Preston Place.) Miller’s point seemed to be to greed-shame Preston Place residents for not taking the lower offer.

    Assuming both numbers are correct, who among us would take $12 million when $18 million is on the table?  Zero. That’s the difference between $200,000 and $300,000  — a whopping one third less — per Preston Place homeowner. So why should Preston Place owners, who lost every possession to fire, some without insurance, be greed-shamed? And why should they be shamed by a woman living over a mile away (with a big dining room) in her 9,168-square-foot mansion sitting on two manicured acres in Old Preston Hollow?

    Ultimately, the meeting went as expected. The towers have been ginned up against rational development and the authorized hearing process. Those sentiments were well-heard. The remainder of the participants coming from around the Pink Wall (some even from the towers) and Preston Hollow were more open to the process.

    Gates did say one thing that would disqualify someone from being part of the authorized hearing. Anyone stating their opposition to the authorized hearing was out. At the very least, that leaves out non-resident landlords Laura Miller and Steve Dawson, Preston Tower residents John Pritchett and Susan Conard, and Athena residents Carla Young and Brett Fincher, along with anyone else who signed the letter last November to Gates.

    But I think Gates needs go a step further. I believe anyone who served on the original PD-15 working group should also automatically be excluded. They’ve proven they don’t have what it takes to reach a compromise and are too entrenched in their positions to be of value. And, even though I resigned because of the shenanigans, this also includes me.

    Don’t restart the car if there’s still sugar in the gas tank, you won’t get far.

    Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

  • April 17, 2018 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Jon Anderson
    candysdirt.com



    Council Member Gates enjoying a cuppa with constituents


    Top Pot
    , a name that might evoke the hopes of an herb-aceous electorate, is alas just a coffee and “hand-forged” donut shop at the edge of Preston Hollow. Begun in Seattle, the city of coffee’s rebirth, there are three locations in Dallas. I wonder if Dallas leadership called out Top Pot for a “just like home” vibe in their Amazon HQ2 bid?

    I was there at the crack of 9 a.m. on Saturday to attend a drop-in chat session hosted by the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association (PHEHA). Council member Jennifer Gates was their special guest. Unlike more formal settings, this meeting was literally coffee and donuts, no set speech or presentation. It was an avenue for local residents to have a low-key interaction with their council person to discuss whatever was on their minds.  Think of it as a cocktail party with caffeine and crullers instead of champagne and caviar. I’m sure other council members do this too, I’ve just never been invited.

    Gates handled queries ranging from the city’s homeless problem to more local issues including neighborhood walkability, and, of course the PD-15 circus.

    As for homelessness, I recommended that city leaders study programs that work, especially the great press coming from Finland’s efforts to eliminate the problem (here, here, here, here). I’ve written before about Housing First programs and their success elsewhere (here, here).  Finland began back in 2008 and today, while the rest of Europe struggles with a growing problem, Finland provided 16,300 homes to their homeless and saved money in the process. Certainly during my visit to Helsinki, I was hard-pressed to find homeless people.


    The stuff of nightmares for some Preston Hollow residents


    Apparently I’m an area legend in walking. PHEHA representatives wanted to talk about the routes I take on my various outings and the existence of sidewalks and why I chose certain routes over others (sidewalks, traffic, shortcuts, etc.). PHEHA wants to begin to enable walkability to area businesses like grocery stores (and perhaps a certain hand-forged donut shop). I learned that for some “sidewalk” is a hot button word (who’d a thunk?) with those folks being less vapor-y when “walkability” is used instead.  While I view a sidewalk as an amenity, apparently some prefer street walkers.

    There were multiple chat pods discussing PD-15. Crickets continue to chirp for Provident to muster up a plan for the Preston Place parcel they contracted for back in February. However, Gates is done waiting, deciding to get the show back on the road.  She’s called a meeting for 6 p.m. April 26 at the Park Cities Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall (located across Northwest Highway from the Pink Wall’s existing towers).  City staff will be on hand to present the facts concerning existing zoning and the authorized hearing process that’s been scheduled (and has the towers’ knickers in such a twist). It will end with a Q&A session.

    It’s odd Provident hasn’t gotten its act together in the two months since Preston Place selected their offer to proceed with. I mean, who signs a contract for millions in land options for what has to be at least a $100 million project, without a skeleton of a plan ready to go?  But maybe I live in a different world.  I’m glad Gates has decided to restart the engine, leaving Provident to chase the train.

    Also attending was Dimitri Economou from Diplomat suitor A.G. Spanos. No eyebrow raise needed, he lives in PHEHA territory and his young children don’t pass up donuts easily (or maybe that was just me?).  We had our usual sparring match about good architecture and green technologies but also area flooding. As a developer he wants to help deal with flooding where he can (the area has been stiffed by the city for years … decades?). After all, it’s smart business. Spanos keeps what it builds, so the last thing they want are pricey tenants complaining about cars floating away in the rain.

    This was my second encounter with PHEHA’s leadership who share my wait-and-see-before-judging stance on PD-15. Good projects help the area. Bad projects result in more Laurel clones. I overheard one conversation where a resident was lamenting the Laurel’s uninterrupted wall of apartments running so close to Preston Road.

    The answer was that to mitigate that solid wall of apartments, the building needed to have been allowed to go taller. It’s like baking a cookie. While a cookie flattens in the oven, it’s still the same mass as a cold dough ball. The Laurel project was shoved into the oven by a cantankerous neighborhood, forcing a flatter and more spread-out building than might have been better negotiated.  To those who wish they could turn back time on the Laurel, the opportunities within PD-15 are that time machine.

    Despite the chilly Saturday, the only unfortunate aspect was the relatively low turnout. To speak to your representative in such an informal setting was an opportunity missed.  Ultimately there were between 20 to 30 attendees from an area encompassing hundreds of homes.  Hey, even I rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning to attend. If such gatherings are available in your neighborhood, go.

    READ ARTICLE @ candysdirt.com

  • March 17, 2018 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CandysDirt.com
    by Jon Anderson

    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


    In my opinion, the meeting’s goal was to preemptively poison the well on redevelopment of Preston Place, Diplomat, Royal Orleans, and Diamond Head Condos. I say that because first, there wasn’t a whiff of “wait and see” what the developers bring.  Secondly, the meeting was rife with half-truths and contradictions continuing to stick to development options from the Preston Center plan. The plan I have debunked twice as being economically unviable (here, here).

    Here are some examples, judge for yourself. READ MORE...

  • February 15, 2018 9:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by J.D. Miles
    DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a new name some Dallas Police officers have given to the city that they hope will bring more attention to the need for more officers.

    No Hope, Texas is what the president of the Dallas Police Association is renaming the city in a new social media post.

    The DPA has been working to sort through exactly how many officers the department has and determined the latest number is 2,785. READ MORE...

Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association
PO Box 25528
Dallas, Texas 75225

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