Trinity Toll Road Would Put Serious Dent in the Continental Pedestrian Bridge

Categories: Development

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Trinity River Corridor Project
You know what this park needs? Some flippin' cars.
The Continental pedestrian bridge was one of Dallas' best additions in 2014. It has great views, water features and play equipment for kids and the occasional food truck. Strolling the bridge, assuming the weather isn't too hot, is genuinely pleasant. Building the Trinity toll road would seriously screw it up.

See also: Best Bridge Dallas 2014 - Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge on the Trinity

Dallas Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan told the City Council Wednesday that the eastern edge of the bridge, the part closest to downtown, will have "pedestrians, traffic and cyclists" coexisting if the toll road is built, because of an exit ramp.

"There's an exit ramp from the southbound toll road that would come over the top of the levy. The ramp splits, and one of the two forks of the ramp comes in even with the Continental Bridge and we would have a traffic signal there so that the cars coming off of the ramp and off of the toll road would have to come to a stop and then pedestrians and cyclists who are coming up Continental from Victory and downtown could proceed across. A traffic signal would be put in to protect non-vehicle traffic," Jordan said.

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Developer Request Hints at Potential for Downtown Dallas Grocery or Big Box Store

Categories: Development

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CityDesign Studio
Artist rendering of potential 1401 Elm remodel.
With the closing of Urban Orchard last August, downtown Dallas was left without a grocery store. Downtown residents with empty pantries are faced with heading to Uptown of Cityplace still, but a requested change in the development agreement between the city and Olympic Property Partners -- the firm rehabbing 1401 Elm -- suggests that could be about to change.

The city approved $50 million in TIF reimbursements for Olympic in January 2014 based on a plan for 512 residential units, office space and retail at 1401 Elm, the largest vacant building in the Central Business District. The agreement that secured the TIF funds called for a minimum 40,000 square feet of office space and a minimum of 25,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space. Now, the developer is coming back to the city to change those requirements.

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Sites Selected for Potential Dallas-to-Houston Bullet Train Station

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Texas Central Railway
The first potential site, completely south of Interstate 30.
Texas Central High-Speed Railway, the private company backing high-speed rail that, potentially, would provide service from DFW to Houston in 90 minutes, announced two preferred sites for its Dallas hub as well as a development partnership Friday morning.

The preferred station sites, part of a list of seven submitted to the feds for environmental evaluation, are both located just southeast of Union Station downtown. The first is an undeveloped tract of land just south of I-30 in the Cedars. The second connects a portion of that area to the area surrounding the convention center and the Omni by bridging I-30.

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In Addition to a Sam's Club, Cityplace Neighbors to Get Delightful Implosion

Categories: Development

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Trammell Crow
Legal battle or not, the Xerox Building is going to get blown up to make way for this stuff.
As the East Village Association awaits the latest turn in its court fight to keep Trammell Crow from building a Sam's Club discount store near the intersection of Haskell Avenue and U.S. 75, the developer sent the group, along with the rest of the property's neighbors, notice of its intent to destroy the Xerox office building that sits there.

See also: Temporary Injunction Denied in Cityplace Sam's Club Case

"The explosive felling or 'implosion' of [the building]" has been set for Super Bowl Sunday, February 1 at 8 a.m. Scott Dyche, Crow's general counsel, promises a series of loud but brief explosions, followed by a temporary cloud of dust. Removal of the rubble created by the implosion is expected to take three or four weeks.

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Historic Buildings Task Force Will Tear into Dallas Demolition Rules

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A. Vandalay/Flickr
Worth saving, or at least looking at saving.
Acknowledging that maybe the tear down first, ask questions later policy with regard to old buildings that aren't protected landmarks might not be the best thing, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and District 14 City Council member Philip Kingston have teamed up to form the most Dallas of all pseudo-governmental units. A task force.

The unit, lead by current Landmark Commission chair Katherine D. Seale, will "look at the current programs and policies of the city's historic preservation program and evaluate them for their effectiveness to protect Dallas' heritage while encouraging the management and growth of downtown and surrounding areas," says a press release announcing the task force.

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Jail Visits, Deion Sanders, Frisco and Vaginal Mesh: Updates from 2014 Stories

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Justin Renteria
The news just keeps rolling on, and not every story has a neat ending. Sometimes it pays to stop and take a look back to see what's happened with stories we reported during the year. That time is the day after Christmas, when all the new newsmakers are sneaking in an extra day off. So here are Amy Silverstein's updates from 2014.

Dallas Senator Tries To Keep In-Person Visitation at Jails
Next year people will be able to skip the lines at the Lew Sterrett Jail and talk to their loved ones from home, through a video chatting software. The catch is that it's going to cost $10 for a 20-minute visit, and the company installing the software, Securus, really wants to eliminate in-person visits to push everyone to pay that fee. At least five other counties in Texas have already eliminated in-person visits after they installed Securus' software.

When the Dallas County Commissioners voted to approve the video visitation contract with Securus in November, they promised verbally that Dallas would be the exception and keep in-person visits just as they are. But the written contract says otherwise, vaguely suggesting that Dallas County will have to restrict its in-person visits so that Securus can make back its money. The final decision on jail visitation is ultimately up to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, whose spokesman never returned our messages inquiring about video visitation.


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Mark Cuban Vows to Keep Razing Houses in Preston Hollow, Refuses to Meet with Neighbors

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Mark Cuban photo via Flickr user Keith Allison
Dallas City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are at odds over Cuban's development plans for Preston and Northwest Highway.
Mark Cuban's curious real estate play at Preston and Northwest Highway -- the one where he's tearing down 80-year-old estates and floating plans to build a couple office buildings -- has gone over about as well as if he had littered the earth with the carcasses of a thousand rotting elephants and then turned Ebby Halliday's little white house into Section 8 housing.

And you know what? Cuban doesn't care. He's a billionaire. Those whiny neighbors? Barely even millionaires.

To demonstrate how few shits he gives about his neighbors, here's an email exchange he had last month with City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates. (Michael Romo is a developer working for Cuban on the property). Gates opens with a polite request for a meeting:

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Former Mayor Laura Miller Prepares to Lead the Fight Against Preston Center Skybridge

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"Artist's" rendering of proposed Preston Center skybridge.
Get ready for Round 3 in the ongoing -- and possibly never-ending -- bout between Laura Miller and would-be Preston Road/Northwest Highway developers. A few months after helping neighbors kill two proposed apartment developments near the intersection, Miller is limbering up to fight Crow Holdings' plan to build a pedestrian skybridge from the two-story parking garage in Preston Center to a planned 50,000-square-foot Tom Thumb.

Crow doesn't need the city's blessing to put in the Tom Thumb; the zoning for that came with the building, the former Sanger-Harris department store at Westchester Drive and Berkshire Lane, that the company purchased last December. But the skybridge -- which, sources say, is a prerequisite for Tom Thumb signing a lease -- is a different matter. Crow representatives will appear before the City Plan Commission next Thursday to ask for a specific use permit.

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Forest/Inwood Neighbors Gear Up for Fight over Proposed Apartments and Retail

Categories: Development

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Forest Wood West promotional materials
Stop me if you've heard this one before. A developer wants to build some apartments on an extremely valuable yet bizarrely underdeveloped major North Dallas intersection. These apartments will be very classy, as evidenced by the slick, full-color brochures zoning/PR consultant Sarah Dodd is distributing as part of a campaign to woo neighbors. Homeowners in the tony subdivisions surrounding the proposed apartments, worried about property values and traffic, revolt.

This is the plot of the zoning drama that just played out on the northeast corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway, where neighbors killed Transwestern's plans for a multi-story luxury apartment complex. It's also what's currently unfolding four miles to the northwest at the intersection of Forest Lane and Inwood Road, where last month developer Greystar and Regency Centers unveiled plans to replace 30 acres of aging town homes with a mixed-use residential/retail complex.

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The Future of Preston Center Is in Michael Morris' Hands Now

Categories: Development

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Mark Graham
Developer Luke Crosland's dream of redeveloping Preston Center has been crushed by bureaucracy and neighborhood opposition.
On Thursday evening in a spacious meeting hall at University Park United Methodist Church, neighborhood leaders and local bureaucrats, led by City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, began the process of puzzling over how to solve Preston Road and Northwest Highway. The intersection, choked with traffic and curiously dumpy given the immense wealth that surrounds it, was recently the site of two knock-down zoning fights that revealed a yawning gap between what the market wants for those corners (apartments and office space) and what neighbors are willing to accept (the status quo).

The process will take at least a year and a half and will produce a master plan for the area that will guide development in the area for the foreseeable future. Should apartments go in Preston Center? Should Mark Cuban be allowed to build an office complex behind Ebby Halliday's little white house? Should the condos behind the pink wall go higher than three stories? All of that, plus possible traffic remedies, will be dealt with.

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