Woonerf-inspired development seeks approval from Dallas City Council

Urban Commons proposal
Urban Commons proposal

A new neighborhood could bring Dutch woonerfs to the Lake Highlands area.

The Dallas City Council this week is expected to approve a unique residential development in the northern Lake Highlands area. The planned development would exist on about 9.5 acres north of Forest Lane and east of Abrams Road, close to Richland College.

The new subdivision of single-family homes would include an internal street network constructed in the woonerf style.

What’s woonerf? It’s a Dutch term —roughly translated as “living streets” and pronounced VONE-erf — meaning a kind of pedestrian-friendly, low-speed street.

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“The woonerf style street will have a minimum width of 32 feet with a 22-foot wide pavement and will provide shared space between pedestrian users and automobile users,” according to Dallas City Plan Commission documents. “Lastly, the woonerf style street will have no curb and gutter, which is anticipated to facilitate easier pedestrian access.”

The proposed development consists of a maximum 80 dwelling units — each with a minimum lot size of 1,200 square feet — a reduced side yard setback requirement and frontage onto a street, shared access area or common area, according to the paperwork. Two primary access points from I-635 and Forest Lane are included in plans.

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The project meets the Forward! Dallas Comprehensive Plan, notes the proposal, in that it “will provide a streetscape that will accommodate pedestrian use and encourage walkability, thus making it a unique and desirable housing option within the community.”

The currently empty site (aside from some presumably homeless campers, which we will address at a later date) is rich with natural vegetation through which flows a creek.

The applicant has indicated that future development plans may include improving the creek into a water feature that will serve the proposed residential development, tentatively titled Urban Commons.

Diane Cheatham's home in Urban Reserve
Diane Cheatham’s home in Urban Reserve

While we have seen our share of developers making promises they can’t keep, this particular venture is spearheaded by a trusted neighbor, Diane Cheatham, founder of the renowned Urban Reserve neighborhood and owner of this Star Trek-inspired masterpiece that was featured on the 2015 Lake Highlands Women’s League home tour.

A link to the full proposal, which the Plan Commission has recommended for approval, is here.

More about Cheatham and Urban Reserve in this article.

The Dallas City Council will decide tomorrow whether to accept the Plan Commission’s recommendation for approval. We have reached out to Cheatham and will report back when we have more information.

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