Just as high-rise living has swept other areas of Dallas, so it has washed up on the shores of White Rock Lake. Developers Mark Miller and Leon Backes have formed Emerald Isle Partners L.P., and envision a 25-story luxury condominium high-rise at 1000 Emerald Isle off Garland Road.
But many residents are already speaking out against the plan.
The project was introduced to the public recently at a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 200 residents from various neighborhoods surrounding the lake.
If the response at that meeting is any indication, the developers have an uphill climb ahead of them. As one area homeowner put it: “You’re going to get some fire out of this.”
The developers’ plan is to “drop a big rock” – as Miller, who lives in East Dallas and visits the lake often, puts it – in the neighborhood, creating ripples of economic development. The area needs its own identity, Miller says, similar to Uptown or the Arts District, and the high-rise would help accomplish that.
That’s the long game.
In the short term, he adds that area restaurants and retailers would benefit from the addition of 185 to 225 high-end residential units and the 500 or so new residents shelling out upwards of $300,000-$1 million for each condo unit.
But City Plan Commissioner Bill “Bulldog” Cunningham doubts that a single project could spark an economic boom along Garland Road.
“Five hundred people probably is not enough to affect the surrounding economy drastically, but it would augment it. I don’t see any reason for an avalanche of new retail going in to substantiate the existence of 500 people coming in. There may be a few higher-end restaurants going in.”
On thing is certain: Once a 25-story high-rise is built at White Rock Lake, even if it’s the only one, the lake view will be changed forever. And, for many, that’s not acceptable.
Little Forest Hills resident Kristin Laminack says it’s the one place she can go to temporarily forget about the rat race.
“I like walking around the lake and forgetting I’m in Dallas and looking off in the distance and seeing downtown and thinking, oh yeah, I’m in the city.”
As another neighborhood resident, Jennifer Holmes, put it: “I don’t want to see a big obelisk as I’m walking around White Rock Lake.”
Complaints such as these, of course, are part of what’s driving the opposition to Miller’s plans. But residents also wonder if he puts one high-rise near the lake, how long before the next one pops up?
Miller admits this project isn’t the only opportunity for redevelopment and revitalization around White Rock Lake – just the only current opportunity for this type of high-density, high-rise project.
On the other hand, maybe Cunningham’s position that high-rises are inevitable in a city that is “not making any more land” is worth considering. If it really is just a matter of time before White Rock Lake resembles Central Park, it might not be a bad idea to start with a developer who at least has a connection to the area and is willing to listen.
As Miller says: “I’ve seen what happens when nothing happens.”
Now he just has to bridge the gap between nothing and 25 stories.