Highland Park, Fighting Luxury Apartment on Katy Trail, Insists It's Not Against Density, Just Tall Buildings

Categories: Development

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Developers want to demolish this and replace it with something taller.
What kind of rich people would be more fun to have living along the Katy Trail -- family-oriented rich people who prefer short buildings, or fast-paced rich people in high-rises?

The current property on 4719 Cole Ave. is not habitable for any type of rich people. The Saltillo apartments building was built in 1970 and has been known to keep a loud and proud "all bills paid" sign out front and is beige.

Developers noticed and have unsuccessfully tried over the years to get it torn down and replaced with luxury high-rises, only to fail against Dallas' multifamily zoning restrictions that limit buildings on the property to no more than 36 feet in height.

But now the land is in the hands of Provident Realty Advisors, which is making some headway with plans to put in a luxury, 258-unit apartment building that would stand 84 feet tall and hide parking underground.

The Plan Commission already voted to support a height-zoning change to allow the development ago, and the Dallas City Council is scheduled to vote on it next week. Though the project and the zoning change would be in Dallas city limits, the Highland Park Town Council and Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams have been aggressively fighting it for the past year.

"Two main things is the height of the building, and the second part is that it does not comply with city of Dallas slope requirements," says Highland Park town administrator Bill Lindley.

Supporters of the project have accused Highland Park of just being NIMBY about having a a dense, urban apartment building adjacent to their town, even if it is one occupied by people who can afford at least $2,500 in monthly rent. The town's own website expresses concern that the new residents would make traffic worse and drive on Highland Park streets.

"Key intersections at Mockingbird/Central and Knox/Central are already congested," Highland Park's website warns, "thus approval of development may force additional traffic through adjoining neighborhoods."

The development is in Councilman Philip Kingston's district. "Their complaint about traffic is bogus, that's completely false," he said last week, though he hadn't decided how he stood on the project yet. He gave more credence to concerns that a big fancy apartment would mess up the look of the Katy Trail. "Their main concerns are about privacy and noise and preservation of the atmosphere on the trail, all those are valid concerns," he says.

The group Save the Katy Trail has raised similar concerns that the apartments would create canyon-like effect on the trail, though its president, reached by telephone on Tuesday, now says she's undecided.

The project meanwhile has gotten key support from the Oak Lawn Committee, a neighborhood group in Dallas whose stated mission is to monitor developments in Oak Lawn and preserve the neighborhood. When her committee saw an earlier draft of the development, they didn't like it, says Brenda Marks, the committee's president. The original design "was sort of a squat building with minimum setbacks and didn't have a good interface with the trail," Marks says. But over time, "the developer really worked, I think, well with us."

She described the project as something that would make Dallas more walkable and attractive, offering homes that are a short trip to the trail and restaurants and shops along Knox.

Highland Park's Lindley agrees that the project looks nice, and he didn't want to address accusations made by the pro-apartment people that his family-oriented town is afraid of density. "The density is a secondary concern," he said, and he was "not going there."

"Our focus is the height of the building," he says. "Our request to city of Dallas is to continue the three-story limitation on the property."

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97 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

Yesterday, I had an occasion to visit with one of the business owners at Knox and Cole.  All was well and we were joking around until I asked him about the proposed luxury apartments.  His demeanor changed, and he gave me an earful how that would hurt the businesses, run off loyal regular customers because of more traffic and parking congestion, raise the taxable value of the property - and therefore cut into already struggling profits, and put an eyesore - no matter how attractive - in the middle of the neighborhood. 


Other than that, he was just thrilled.  :)

roscoejette
roscoejette

Hello, there is already a 17-story apartment building at Knox and Travis. Where was the opposition for that one?

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

It is very simple to describe why a building of this height in unacceptable: 


1.  That area is already congested, and a tall building virtually on Knox would create severe traffic congestion as well as people congrestion. 


2.  A 258 apartment building would overload services in the area, and would certainly be unsightly from the Katy Trail. 


3.  If only half of the apartments had one dog, just imagine the compacted addition of 129 more dogs on the Katy Trail and using area lawns as a restroom. 


4.  The people in Highland Park that live on at least two blocks away would have their backyards and fenced areas suddenly exposed to a few hundred people 24/7.  The lack of privacy would reduce property values in Highland Park, and might even cause some lawsuits. 

These expensive Highland Park homes have enjoyed backyard/fenced privacy - some for over 80 years, and residents there now certainly paid top dollar for homes they believed would provide privacy. 

(As well, imagine 30 or 40 people in those homes, who certainly have the money to hire the best attorneys, suing the City of Dallas and the developers.   Not only would that tie up the City of Dallas for quite some time, cost tax dollars, and likely impact taxation by the city, but would also cost the the apartment developers a fortune in legal fees, and long delays in getting COs from the city, and therefore paying tenants.  Imagine the long delays of investment being in limbo for such a long time, and therefore threatening the profit ROI.

5.  There is no indication that Dallas utilities could handle water, sewage, and gas delivery without expensive renovations of pipes, and even more construction vehicles for over a year on an already crowded street. 

6.   As it is now, the two-story modest apartments on Cole have provided lower cost housing for singles or those just starting families in that area.  Displacing them and their tenants with very expensive apartments destroys any "balance" or transition value to the neighborhood and nearby businesses. 

7.  Cole, which was never intended to be a major thoroughfare,  has become one and delivers customers to the Know-Henderson area as well as to the Park Cities and SMU.  Adding the congestion of 258 apartments would make that congestion even more intolerable. 


This is a terrible idea, and hopefully the Dallas City Council will opt for either shorter buildings or something other than apartments. 

 

Mervis
Mervis

It's like Pawnee vs. Eagleton.

smiling1809
smiling1809

HP people do not pay Dallas Taxes.They should not have an ounce of say in anything Dallas does. We are not obligated to keep them happy.

Bremarks
Bremarks

The proposed building height actually doesn't front any homes except a portion of one garage.  It faces a park.  From what I've been told from those having direct discussions with folks from Highland Park, their biggest hangup is (1) people might look into their park (2) people (that would be anyone not living in Highland Park) might go into their park.  To which my answer is "If you don't want anyone setting foot in your park, okay with me.  But stay off our trail."  As I said in my remarks to the City Plan Commission, which I stand by today, Highland Park loves Dallas's pretty things, such as the Katy Trail.  But when it comes to making the tough decisions that enable Dallas to pay for the pretty things they enjoy so much, they not only oppose our efforts, they exert outsized influence in the process.  I wish Highland Park well, but it's not the responsibility of Dallasites or their representatives to answer first to Highland Park.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Apparently the place is an old dump.  Apartmentratings.com has unflattering reviews. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Wait...... now I'm wondering, what are they doing in the HP backyards they don't want us to see?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@noblefurrtexas Where's your opposition to the under-construction high-rise apartment/retail/Trader Joe's going up - on Cole ? 

arlogilbert
arlogilbert

@noblefurrtexas Don't try using facts and logic here, the commenters here made up their mind the moment the word "HP" was mentioned. Things like "property values" and "privacy" and "dog shit" don't matter to them, all that matters is that they can paint it as a "rich vs poor" issue.

Bremarks
Bremarks

@noblefurrtexas Seven stories is hardly a tall building. Your traffic argument has already been found to be false.  As to people conjestion, that's just silly.  As to dogs, that too is silly.  Your Highland Park claims don't fly.  Property valueThis project faces a park.  Not homes.  And it's set back from the Trail on the Dallas side.  The height has been pushed to the Cole side of the project.  There is a 240 foot building in Highland Park at Knox.  No complaint about that one.  Dallas utilities can easily handle this.  Silly claim yet again.  And by the way, Cole Avenue is actually on the Dallas Thoroughfare Plan. 

arlogilbert
arlogilbert

@smiling1809 Not true. HP residents pay Dallas county taxes and due to robinhood rules, more than 1/2 of the HP property taxes go to Dallas ISD.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks So, you therefore think officials and residents in the Park Cities should just tell Dallas to "buzz off" where Dallas might want something from the Park Cities.  Did you know that, since the DFD moved its fire station at Douglas and Northwest out of range to assist the Park Cities, that University Park frequently sends an ambulance, fire engines, other service into Dallas when asked to do so, despite the fact that Dallas won't be reciprocating. 


Part of being a good neighbor as a city is compromise or accommodation where needed.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks Look at the number of Park Cities residents who contributed to the Katy Trail.  And, Highland Park residential properties also back up into the Katy Trail, especially along Abbott, and side streets abutting the Trail running into Abott such as Edgewater, Overbrook Craigmont, Armstrong, Gillon,4th Street, Dartmouth,  and Airline Rd.

Dallas and the Park Cities have had a good relationship over the years, as well as one that is symbiotic.  Attempting to drive a wedge between those relationships is not only a bad idea, but one that would harm Dallas more than HP or UP. 

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks Apparently you are not aware of all the Dallas amenities from the museums, the Meyerson,  the Dallas Zoo, and countless other Dallas projects over the years.  It is also a fact that Robinhood unfairly penalizes financially the HPISD, not a little which goes to DISD. 


And, a great deal of the money for the Katy Trail came from Park Cities residents.

arlogilbert
arlogilbert

@Bremarks I assume you'd probably like to drive through HP to get to "your" park on roads that are maintained with HP tax dollars? 

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@RTGolden1 RT, as long as it's not illegal, I don't understand why you or anyone else would care...assuming no voyeur tendencies.  :)


I strongly value my privacy, and would have the same objections to high buildings constructed near my home that could peer into my fenced backyard.



Bremarks
Bremarks

@arlogilbert @noblefurrtexas Gentlemen, that's not nor has ever been the point.  Since neither of you have been at any time prior to this blogpost participating in the ongoing stakeholder discussion on this project, I'm going to suspect your silly comments are due to your lack of underlying knowledge about the subject and leave it at that.

michaelghoward78
michaelghoward78

So let the IDIOT people who want to live like ants - enjoy the congested streets and stores around here along with the HIGHER rent AND HIGHER crime rate too - once this MONSTROSITY is built!! :-P

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas So your saying that an underground garage with entrance and exit onto a two-lane neighborhood street - Abbott - by what is likely over 350 cars is not going to impact congestion?


The highest building, residence, or apartment I've seen on Abbott is three stories, and I certainly don't think that is at all intrusive. 


Being on the Thoroughfare Plan doesn't make a street at major thoroughfare. 


While I have more of a concern about Abbott, many people used Cole to get to work or go downtown, and McKinney for the return street.  ( consider McKinney to a thoroughfare, which is often a term of art.)

Bremarks
Bremarks

@arlogilbert @smiling1809 Wrong.  They go to the state.  DISD is also a plaintiff suing the state (co-plaintiff with HP) over the weighted average formula, which also results in DISD sending far more to Austin than what returns to them.

roscoejette
roscoejette

@noblefurrtexas @Bremarks Now the Katy Trail people have their noses up in the air about the extension keeping the same name. They don't want "their" name going into East Dallas lest they have to raise money for that area also. So now it will be called "Ridgewood Trail".

Bremarks
Bremarks

@noblefurrtexas @Bremarks You might want to worry more about what's to come along the Katy Trail in the very small portion that borders the HP city limits.  For example, there is property just north of Harvard already zoned on the ground (IR) allowing for 240 feet by right.  I'm not trying to "drive a wedge" anymore than HP residents masquerading under the name "Save the Katy Trail."  And at least I'm willing to stand in the sunlight and voice my objections. They choose to hide under a nom-de-guerre and drop anonymous letters in mailboxes.

Bremarks
Bremarks

@noblefurrtexas @Bremarks Museums, Meyerson, Zoo -- etc. -- those are Dallas City budget items, not HP.  As to Robinhood, that's dated.  It's the "weighted average" system (of which DISD pays into and gets very very little back from the state).  DISD is a co-plaintiff with HP in the current lawsuit.  If HP folks want to contribute to the Friends of Katy Trail, wonderful.  But they don't pay to build out the trail.  Dallas taxpayers do.

Bremarks
Bremarks

@arlogilbert @Bremarks Boy did you miss the point.  My response was to the silly point that HP didn't want anyone looking into their little park.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @arlogilbert @noblefurrtexas "Silly comments"????


I'm curious; is it every day that you have these meltown  tendencies to criticize other posters, or was it just my special luck to catch you on a special day?

You're more than welcome to disagree with a point.  However, you're not welcome to marginalize perfectly valid or sincere critiques of a public project. 

A talent for disagreeing without being disagreeable just isn't that difficult.  You may not get the emotional high of jumping someone else, but you certainly gain more support for your argument, or at least objective tolerance. 

 



noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @arlogilbert @noblefurrtexas While you're more than welcome to that assumption, at least leave some room for your being human, and therefore not infallible. 


i just got back from the Apple store on Knox.  While I was in the neighborhood, where one of my childhood friends lives on Abbott in the HP section, I drove up and down Abbott to make sure I didn't miss anything. 


If you figure at least 1.5 automobiles per unit, and that is being conservative, and assume no single residents have more than one vehicle, that's at least 385 vehicles enter and exiting onto Abbott, many of them at the same time as rush hour traffic. That's congestive in the extreme.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas I know a number of people in the Park Cities who have contributed to, and supported, the Katy Trail.  I don't know anything about anonymous letters dropped in mailboxes....which I thought was a postal violation.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @noblefurrtexas @Bremarks 

As I recall, that was more for security reasons than any animus toward walkers, bike riders, joggers, and dog walkers.  I doubt there was a lot of concern for riff-raff, although there have been - and will continue to be - a number of crimes against person on the Trail.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas I'm not talking about HP budget items.  I'm talking about the large number of people in the Park Cities who have donated out of their own pockets to multitudes of Dallas projects and amenities - including supporting the Katy Trail. 


I completely agree about HP being a co-plaintiff against Robinhood.  In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the head lobbyist is a former HPISD superintendent. 



arlogilbert
arlogilbert

@Bremarks @arlogilbert I understand, but you do realize that a tremendous amount of the money that *built* the katy trail came from private donors in highland park right? Not that this gives them a right to dictate what happens to areas surrounding the part, but it certainly means that a) HP residents put money into non HP projects and b) As something they funded, it would seem logical that they would have the occasional right to voice their opinion about developments that might impact their pet project.


http://www.katytraildallas.org/site/PageServer?pagename=fkt_majordonors2012


I just think people like to simplify this issue as a rich vs poor... but more importantly they like to imply that the word "overbearing asshole" should be appended to the word "rich" as though somehow having money makes them jerks.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Chattering_Monkey @noblefurrtexas @RTGolden1 The problem isn't fences.  The problem is a tall building whose residents have visual access to private backyards, pools, etc. 


It's easier for Dallas Planning and Zoning to simply restrict the height of buildings in that area. 

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas That's a little better, although the same amount of traffic with go to Abbott by way of Knox.  Quite a large number will go downtown on Cole, and a significant number will take Knox to Central.


The problem is not knowing how many of each there are, and at a time when the entire area is all congested, and many more cars mean both more stopped cars and more air pollution. 



Bremarks
Bremarks

@noblefurrtexas @Bremarks And its really nice that they have money to donate, for which they get a nice little tax benefit.  But they don't have to.  And lots of Dallas people (including myself) also donate.  

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas @arlogilbert Traffic on Cole will still go Knox to Abbott to destination, or Knox to Central to destination. 


And, I'm sure you'd agree (perhaps not) that people living n $2,500 per month units are NOT going to ride DART.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@Bremarks @noblefurrtexas You clearly missed the point - or at least pretend you did.


There is no shortage of projects AROUND THE WORLD that need money, and that provide some form of tax deduction (in most cases) as long as they are NGOs or Nonprofit. 


However, many people show considerable generosity toward projects that benefit the city of Dallas, and some represent projects in which the donor(s) have a special interest. 

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