Lawther/Northwest Highway development, Winfrey Point parking and DART safety addressed at Lake Highlands meeting

Our Live Local writer Meghan Riney just sent over notes from tonight’s Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association meeting, where highlights included  representatives discussing the hotly contested multifamily development near the White Rock DART station and Mayor Mike Rawlings addressing the state of the city and commenting on the Save Winfrey Point thing.

Apartments near White Rock Station

We’ll start with the one that’s ruffled the most feathers, based on our experience. Karl Crawley with Masterplan consultants and Alex Condos of Post Investment Group addressed residents concerned about a planned development district at Northwest Highway and Lawther that would allow developers to build about 350 apartment units. Here in Lake Highlands, because of high crime rates related to the vast number of existing low-rent apartments, we are pretty gun shy when it comes to density. Here’s how that discussion went down (from Meghan Riney, adapted to blog by me):

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The guys say the new development would replace a lawnmower store, liquor store, convenience store and a house owned by the Duncan family. The Duncan patriarch is dead; the mom is in a nursing home. The kids don’t want the house, they inform the crowd.

They announce that Post Investment Group will be the new developer of this project.

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The vision, they say, is a multifamily development with a small retail allowance. There will be a maximum 350 units and 4.5 acres. That means about 700 people and a big parking garage. The residents of the development would feed into Dallas ISD schools.

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A zoning request submitted in January is now on hold at city hall due to unresolved physical issues with the site, the speakers inform the attendees.

The developer, Alex Condos, works mainly in Austin and has had control of the site for approximately one and a half months. He says he sees the property as desirable due to proximity to White Rock Lake. His partners in the project are Dallas professionals Will Cureton and Scott Rogers. Their background? Ten years developing in California Austin, Montana and Dallas (Westside Condos on Cedar Springs, Brownstones at Southlake Town Square, Tribeca on Cedar Springs, 1999 McKinney, 2011 Cedar Springs).

Scott Rogers is at the meeting and says, “We have never done any low-income projects. We will be on the top end of the market cost to make it worth the land and development cost.”

Cureton is also there. He adds: “We’re only interested in doing high-end, high quality, boutique properties.”

They say they are working on creating a new conceptual plan of the development. When they are done, they will be happy to meet with neighborhood organizations to review and discuss.

Timetable: They are hoping for zoning approval end of June/early July and for construction to start in mid 2013 and to complete the thing by end of 2014.

Neighbors voice concerns. Condos says he doesn’t believe oversaturation of apartments is a concern in the area where they are building.

Crawley says, “This development is not dense for a property near a rail station. It is not dense for Uptown. It is dense for this area.”

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Concerned resident asks, What precautions are being put in place to assure Lake Highlands residents that 20 years from now we won’t have another situation like the deteriorating 80s apartments that surround us now?

“Those were garden apartments. These are not garden apartment quality. There will be a structured parking garage, and it’s a Type 3 building which is a higher class than most apartments, which typically fall in Type 5,” responds David Demarest, who is an architect on the project.

Concerned resident asks, You give examples of this type of property being successful for decades in Uptown, but you fail to mention that those developments killed the neighborhood in Uptown. You would never do this in Lakewood or Highland Park. Don’t hurt our neighborhood. What makes you think that young adults are going to want to move into these in LH, the way they do in Uptown … with no restaurants or nightlife?

Crawley replies, “We grew up watching Leave it to Beaver on the TV and seeing families in homes with yards, but kids now don’t want that. This is a Seinfeld generation who grew up watching families live in apartments, and they want to live in a neighborhood like LH without the house or the yard.”

(This is where our Meghan, a young Lake Highlands homeowner who has both a yard and a golden retriever, almost let the guy have it.)

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 Mayor Mike Rawlings on Southern Dallas and Winfrey Point 

In other topics, Mayor Rawlings offered a basic overview of the state of the city. He says he has implemented the Grow South initiative (a three-year, 10-part plan focused on building Southern Dallas). He says he is initiating a “culture of clean” in Southern Dallas and working on appearance of Dallas when driving in from Austin, using billboards and the like.

Of course he was asked about the Winfrey Point saga, to which he promised, the ball fields aren’t going away. Over 2,000 signed the petition, he says, so that is something we will need to look at. (I assume here we are talking about the discussed permanent parking and not the temporary Arboretum parking — you can get an update about the whole thing here.)

“The nature issue is not as important as the issue of parking in the neighborhoods,” the mayor told the crowd. “Someone is going to get hurt on Garland Road. We have to solve this problem and can’t just bury our heads in the sand.”

DART Safety 

Also, DART issued a safety update. Cameras have been installed at 55 stations. There will be increased uniform presence at all stations and on trains.

Use the new 41411 texting if you see something or someone suspicious on the train. You soon might be able to use “Where’s my bus?” and “Where’s my train?” apps to avoid getting lost or stuck in an unsafe or vacant area. Also, DART is looking into a SmartCard system for payment.

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—Reporting by Meghan Riney, edited by Christina Hughes Babb

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  • Tedbarker

    No, educate us, please.  The sword and pendulum always swing two ways.  I don’t think there is a corner of the City that does not have some type of serious issue regarding the City Council or Plan Commission.

  • Peggy

    In May 2013….he has to run again! Who is going to run against him?

    It is really a full time job that pays very little. And WHO are we going to insist that person appoint as a Plan Commissioner to reflect our views.
    We need a total break from the past where developers are king.

    LH does not have to be the only place in town where the City can shove building the tax base up. We are now part of the double edged sword of a TIF. Were you told about both sides ?

  • Tedbarker

    We are all considering a recall of our Councilman.

  • Tedbarker

    Wow, another boondoggle.  There is no way that strip of land will support 700 people without impacting the schools, traffic, the nearby parkland up to Doran.  I have often wondered about the Duncan house and the longevity of the corner.

    This is beyond stupid.  Winfrey Point is just a short hop from you guys.  Rawlings is looking more suspect.

  • Doug

    I think there is an important distinction which gets missed in a lot of the reports about this subject.  Most articles refer to the “new development” or “new developer” which makes it sound like this is a foregone conclusion – and a lot of us are trying to prevent someone from maximizing the use of their own land.
    However, that is not the case.  From what we have been told, this is only an OPTION on the land pending the successful application for rezoning.  What that means is this is a “proposed developer” with a “proposed development pending approval”.  In short, they are “asking” for the City and its resident’s (through our elected officials) permission to use the land in a different manner than currently allowed.
    And when those plans might impact the direct neighbors through traffic, access to parks, parking issues, flooding, etc. we absolutely DO and SHOULD have a say in the process.  And if this “proposed development” is not the right one, then we understand there were multiple other bidders on the land who likely have other plans or ideas.  Has anyone considered a three-story complex with larger units, retail on the first floor and a restaurant with a patio overlooking the park?  What if that was the next “proposed plan” for the area from the next proposed developer?
    I guess to get to my point.  If land is zoned for retail use and you want to tear down a building and build retail that is your absolute right.  I wish you complete success with your investment.  But when you buy an option on land zoned for single family and retail use and want to tear it down and build 350 units on 4 four acres (minus the space it takes for the parking garage) next to a neighborhood and the City’s largest park then yes the neighbors do have a right to be involved and have their input reflected in your PROPOSED plans.

  • Wilson!

    Your councilman isn’t e-mailing you because you don’t need to know (i.e., you don’t stand to make or spend millions of dollars on this deal).  Just like the Emerald Isle neighborhood wasn’t told about the Arboretum’s plans to turn the grassland on the other side of their fences into a temporary parking lot.

  • Wilson!

    It’s not “adjacent” to White Rock Lake – it’s across Northwest Highway.  It’s over 2000 feet from the nearest point on the shorline to the NW corner of the intersection.  Interestingly, the line between those points goes directly across CC Young’s “Overlook” – a 6-story, 108-unit apartment complex, which sits only 800 feet from the nearest point on the shoreline.  And is also adjacent to the park and trails.

    So, I guess if the apartments are full of well-to-do older folks, the lake IS the place for density…

  • Peggy.

    I was at a RHHA board meeting and no one there other than the President knew about it.   Maybe LHAIA board  only notifies the HOA presidents.  I agree we need notification broadcast thru LH Today, the Advocate an any other site.   When Alan Walne was our Councilman we had huge community meetings attended by many residents from all neighborhoods.
    Our current councilman likes to meet with small neighborhood groups.   Did you get any notification about the zoning change on Skillman where the zoning was  changed to allow 610 apartments where there are now 287 boarded up apartments.?   Only the little neighborhood across the street got the notification.    I think we all deserve to know what is going on in OUR community.   

  • Triple Wildcat

     No, he’s twisting this into a black-and-white issue with no gray area. He’s saying, “If you don’t want parking at Winfrey Point, you must be against the Arboretum.” In other words, if you like the Arboretum, shut your trap and put up with a parking garage in a park.
    It’s the same politics they’re playing with the Trinity: You want a nice riverfront development with recreational amenities? Then we need a toll road right in the middle of it.
    You want to get rid of an old liquor store and lawnmower shop, we have to put an apartment building there! There is no other way! (Yeah, right.)

  • Triple Wildcat

     I disagree. What’s there now doesn’t impact the neighborhood nearly as much as adding 350-plus non-permanent residents. The traffic congestion alone at Lawther and NW Hwy will be a nightmare.
    And nobody is saying all development is evil. Where do you get that? We’re crying for development in Lake Highlands: restaurants, shopping, etc.

  • Triple Wildcat

     I know that the White Rock Valley neighborhood association had its meeting at the exact same time as this. As the nearest LH neighborhood to be affected by this apartment development, they should have rescheduled the WRV meeting and told everyone to attend the LHAIA meeting instead. Hindsight.

  • Triple Wildcat

    But it’s not merely adjacent to a DART station, it’s adjacent to White Rock Lake and a wonderful park and trails. That is not the place for density, i.e. a huge apartment tower.

  • Longtime LH’s Homeowner

    Replace the dilapidated apartments all over LH’s!  Lawther/NWH Development is a terrible idea from developers who have no understanding about the dynamics of that location! #1 Flood Plain #2  Difficult intersection to maneuver about. Cannot imagine the cluster _ _ _ _ it will be with a densely populated highrise.  And, it will have to be a highrise to accommodate 350 units + parking.  Sure don’t like the idea of more traffic through WRV:/ Scrap it!

  • Ellen Raff

    A really good question.  I only went because I knew the mayor was going to be there.  This was “publicized” a few weeks ago by e-mail to people who get the LH Area Improvement Association e-mails.  I don’t believe they mentioned any other agenda items at the time.  As the date approached, I thought it was strange we didn’t get reminder e-mails, with the mayor speaking I would have thought they would send out reminders.  I didn’t get one. And LHAIA knows this is a big issue residents have been watching.

  • Guest

    Was this meeting even publicized?  I never heard anything about it until after the fact – I would have definitely gone.  I agree – we must not be lulled!

  • Esther

    We just found out about this project and defintely have many many concerns, especially the density and traffic nightmare it will create.  Why is our councilman not mailing us notices of such importants matters.
    I am sure a lot of residents who need to know about this are unaware of it.

  • Teva


    stop carping on blogs and do SOMETHING effective like emailing the 2 council people above and demanding they stop this NOW!

  • guest

    LHAIA never has much of an opinion or back bone and is a waste of time..IMO

  • cbs

    The traffic/congestion issue is my primary concern.  As a WRV resident, we have been completly held hostage in our neighborhood with the current construction.  Adding the building of this mess in the flood plain will only serve to completely render Lawther a useless ingress/egress route. Even with the new grading, there is no way that intersection can accomodate that traffic volume.

  • Peggy

    I am so glad to see residents are reading this information. The attendance at last nights meeting was disgusting. Folks …this group of volunteers is trying to give you a chance to speak out. Expressing your views to those pros with so few there makes us look like whiners! That developer got no idea of the real feelings in our community.

    Karl Crawley is a pro. Developers pay big bucks to hire him. They only pay big bucks when they know they are pushing the envelope to an extreme. 350 units on 4 acres is DENSE development for any area . In an established residential community it is over kill! Why 350 units because it will be expensive to build and they want to make a killing when they sell it. The name of the game is profit.
    Any developer will tell you their development will not look like trash, but what they end up building does not look like the pretty pictures in the brochure.

    Their goal is to lull you into not protesting what they want to do. We are so nice in
    LH…. We just can’t say NO.

    It is time to show up friends, tell the developers NO, tell LHAIA what you expect them to say when they speak as our voice. Increasing the tax base at the expense of Lake Highlands has to stop.

    Are you going to help?

  • stuart

    The president/founder of Winston Capital passed away.  I think it is reasonable to assume this is the reason that Post is taking over.

  • Cbd

     I don’t care that they aren’t building in LHTC, they are building directly adjacent to a DART stations, which is ideal for any development that is predicated on density.  Not everyone wants to in a house with a giant yard, some people want to have ready access to multiple forms of transit, which an apt development next to a DART station provides.

  • Thanks for clearing that up Melissa. I’ll update that. 

  • It’s interesting that Mayor Rawlings is reported to be asking the question: “Is growth at the Arboretum a good thing or a bad thing?” Based on what he has been saying everywhere else in Dallas, and what he told us in interviews leading up to the election, we know he favors growth in virtually every case (not at the expense of neighborhoods, necessarily, but because he believes growth makes Dallas better). So the question he really is addressing right now is “How can we grow the Arboretum without causing a riot among neighbors?”

  • LHResident

    In regards to the arboretum, I get they want to increase parking so they can get more people through the gates but why a parking garage at Winfrey point? Why can they not build a parking garage on there existing lots? Would they distract from the views? Mess up the people flow?  Of course that would be the case with a garage at Winfrey point but you wouldn’t be able to see it from the arboretum….

  • Doug

    I think it is good to see a new developer.  Can we confirm Post is fully replacing Winston – or is this just a new Partnership with Wintson to put their name out front?  Also, the article mentions “small amount of retail”.  How much is small?   And 700 people and a big parking garage.  The last plans only called for 500 parking spots for 700 people – meaning a good chance cars are parked on the roads, if the biking community can’t support 350 units with one car per unit.  Are they going to provide enough parking?  Are they going to do the traffic study mandated by the City’s own guidelines for a project this size?  How is this going to effect the unbuilt, tax-subsidized Town Center?  Will it drive down their rates and occupancy?  Are “unresolved physical issues” flood plain?  Finally, I appreciate they are going into this with good intentions.  But it is not their intentions many of us question.  It is their understanding of our area and the tenants/rates they can draw.  Remember, no developer ever set out to build crime-ridden, low maintenance properties.  They happen because of overly optimistic development.  I look forward to seeing the new plans and, personally, I hope they come in with less than 350 units on 4 acres.

  • Teva

    Post Investment Group has a single directive; to build wealth for our investors

    Right off their website. This is not “POST” the A grade developer. 
    They buy distressed properties and milk the last pennies out of them.  Which is exactly what they did at Northwest Terrace in east LH.

    And the name change from Winston …seems like a further attempt to decieve.

  • Ellen Raff

    Regarding the apartment project, I talked to Mr. Condos after the meeting (what a great name!) and Mr. Curetan. I asked whether they were planning on vigorous future maintenance of the rentals (like we see at the Village) and they answered that financing today REQUIRES a plan of future maintenance.  They said that is one major difference between this project and the projects of the 80s and 90s.  I hope it’s true, I want to believe them.

  • Ellen Raff

    I was at the meeting, my favorite comment of the mayor’s was “We have to decide if the Arboretum is a good thing or a bad thing.” He was referring to recent growth and whether or not the city should encourage that growth or contain it. Mr. Mayor, I think the Arboretum is a good thing but there is a possibility of too much of anything, even good things.

  • Melissa

    I actually ride the 475 to Lake Highlands Station all the time if I’m meeting my husband downtown for dinner.  The DART mobile site already has a “Where’s my Bus” and “Where’s my Train” link on their mobile site.  It already exists and actually works pretty well. 

  • chris

    Not everyone does want a yard and a Beaver house, though.  I get people don’t want a billion more apartments in LH and I agree, but if it’s quality development it’s a whole lot better than what’s there now.  Not all development is inherently evil.

  • Richie Winkler

    I would love to hear what Meghan said.
    Why wouldn’t they build in one of the areas where it makes more sense, like the LH Towncenter or one of the several condemned apartments…why build another right on top of the train station and in a flood area?