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

Categories: Development

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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Trinity Trust's Plan for River Amenities Is a Vivid, Impossible Fever Dream

The Trinity Trust
Are the three in black and white stripes together, or what?
Say what you will about boring stuff like feasibility -- as surrealist art the latest renderings of potential park-like amenities between the Trinity River levees are pretty damn amazing.

Tragically, the solar-powered water taxis we've all grown to love from earlier sales pitches for the Trinity project are gone, but the latest conceptual images for the lakes near downtown include jugglers, zip lines and a water "spray park." Presumably, the water for the spray park -- like the water for the lakes -- wouldn't come from the river itself because, you know, disease. But in any case, the renderings Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan and the Trinity trust showed a City Council committee on Monday were incredible. By that we mean not credible.

At least that's how some City Council member saw it.

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Texas Construction Workers Say Aldi, Dallas Subcontractor Ripped Them Off for $20,000

Categories: Development

Mike Mozart

UPDATE: On Friday, the general contractor sent over a check covering the lien. "While this still does not cover the entirety of the missing wages, the payment is a victory for workers," Workers Defense Project says in a statement.

"By ensuring that workers are paid for their work, Aldi Supermarket is demonstrating a commitment to a responsible business model and is acting as a model for all businesses to follow," the group adds.

On the phone today, the subcontractor accused of dropping the ball confirmed that he had received invoices for around $20,000 from the workers. But he claims that the workers had agreed beforehand to do additional work on the Aldi store for free.

"All their invoices were falsified," says Dion Islas, the owner of Advanced Electric. Islas says the workers had signed papers agreeing only to be paid for a certain time period, and then "the only times they were on the job after that point were to repair their own mistakes," he says.
Aldi was recently crowned "the best grocery store in America" by Slate, the popular yuppy think-piece website, making the discount grocery chain socially acceptable for $30,000 millionaires everywhere. The store's cheap quirks include requiring a 25-cent deposit for a shopping cart, which they say helps them save money on store employees and pass the savings down to customers.

But in a state notorious for ripping off its construction workers, perhaps Aldi is taking the "not having to hire someone in the name of savings" idea too far.

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Mark Cuban Wants to Turn Several Preston Hollow Estates into Office Buildings

Categories: Development

Thumbnail image for sadmarkcuban.jpg
Last we checked, Mark Cuban was in "no rush to do anything" with the block of five estates he's bought up over the past quarter century behind Ebby Halliday's little white house at Preston and Northwest Highway.

But something's changed in the past eight months. In September, Cuban closed on a sixth property, a 78-year-old home at 8601 Jourdan Way, and workers have recently been tearing down fences, including the one shielding the estates from Northwest Highway, and cutting down trees from the 10-acre block of land Cuban has amassed between Northwest Bible Church and the Ebby house. City of Dallas sanitation workers have spent the past two days hauling away the debris. And a real estate developer named Michael Romo has been meeting with neighbors and city officials in recent days on Cuban's behalf, shopping a new vision for the corner.

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Preston Center Is Getting a Skybridge, and Maybe a Tom Thumb

Categories: Development

Flickr user Troy Wason
Coming soon to Preston Center, give or take a little grandeur.
Earlier this week, we spent some time examining why Preston Center, the aging shopping center floating on a sea of Park Cities/Preston Hollow riches, sucks so hard. Little did we know that Crow Holdings already had a plan to fix it. With a skybridge.

Last December, Crow purchased the old Sanger-Harris department store building at Douglas and Berkshire, the one whose current tenants include such purveyors of high-end merchandise as Marshalls, Office Depot, and CVS Pharmacy.

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A Brief Primer on Why Preston Center Sucks

Categories: Development

Flickr user coltera
Anyone who's attempted to navigate the intersection of Preston and Northwest Highway at rush hour will have had ample opportunity while sitting through multiple cycles of the stop light to contemplate one of North Dallas' most enduring paradoxes. Here, at the spot where the Park Cities and Preston Hollow converge with two busy roads and the Tollway to form an unimaginably rich vein of real estate gold, stands a shopping center that is, for lack of a more polite term, a piece of crap.

Some of Preston Center's shops and restaurants are nice enough, and neighbors tend to embrace the complex as a stand-in for a town center. But set aside nostalgia for the pre-NorthPark days when it served as a luxury shopping mecca and one's personal affection for Hopdoddy's burgers or John Tesar's seafood and it starts to look like what it is: an outdated strip mall surrounding a chaotic eyesore of a parking garage.

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The Lower Greenville Wal-mart Is a Terrible Neighbor

Neighbors never exactly embraced Wal-mart's plans to build a Neighborhood Market on Lower Greenville. Suspicious of the chain's ability to integrate into an urban neighborhood, particularly one as fastidious as Lower Greenville, their opposition was close to unanimous, the only variation being in the intensity of their anti-Wal-mart sentiment.

Leaders of the surrounding neighborhood associations -- Belmont, Greenland Hills, Vickery Place, Lower Greenville and Lowest Greenville West -- also realized they didn't have much choice. The zoning was in place and the landlord, former City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky, could lease the property to whomever he chose. Their only option was to band together and wring what concessions they could out of the world's largest retailer, which they did.

Melissa Kingston, an attorney who lives two blocks from the Wal-mart, led negotiations on behalf of the neighborhood groups.

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Dallas Will Allow a New Katy Trail Mid-Rise, Highland Park's Objections Be Damned

Google Maps
The building that's on the site now.
Over the objections of their Park Cities neighbors, the Dallas City Council voted this afternoon to approve a zoning change that will allow for the construction of a new luxury mid-rise apartment building on Cole Avenue site currently occupied by the Saltillo Apartments.

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

A group of Highland Park residents, their mayor and their attorneys showed up at the meeting to again voice their disapproval for the change, which they complained would cause traffic and parking issues in addition to sullying some Highland Park residents' view of the Katy Trail.

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Dallas Man Writes Letter to One of the World's Foremost Urbanists, Social Media Magic Ensues

Categories: Development

Twitter (Jeff Speck)
The letter.

After reading Jeff Speck's book Walkable City, Brian Reinhart had to respond. The book spoke to the issues he and his friends faced in Dallas so clearly, outlining many of the problems they've had and the aspirations they have. He wanted to give Speck "an update on the lay of the urban land in Dallas."

With all the discussion that's occurred over the summer about the state of urbanism in Dallas -- whether at the New Cities Conference, the U.S. Conference of Mayors or even last week's "Connecting Dallas Beyond the Automobile" panel -- the letter provides an interesting snapshot of how things are for at least one man who is really giving Dallas a go as if it were what he wishes it was.

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Urban Orchard Market, Downtown Dallas' Only Grocer Folds After Less Than a Year

Categories: Biz, Development

When Urban Orchard Market opened to moderate fanfare last October, there was hope that maybe, finally, Downtown Dallas was grown up enough to support a grocery store.

It's not. Ten months after opening, the jaunty "Now Open" banner still hanging above the door, the market has quietly closed. A downtown resident who identified himself as Dennis arrived at the storefront off Jackson Street on Thursday morning to find the doors gated and locked. He had planned to pick up a loaf of bread.

"Now," he declared with mild regret, "I have to buy CVS bread."

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