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JAH Realty, owner of the Lake Highlands Village shopping center, anchored by Tom Thumb and located at Audelia/Skillman/Royal, has plans to replace the former Plaza National Bank complex (in orange on site plan) with a new residential development. The 5-acre tract will include single family homes – either attached in a townhome style, detached with side yards, or both.

Tommy Mann, a Lake Highlands resident representing JAH on the project, says transitioning from retail to residential at the site makes sense for the center – and the neighborhood.

“The pandemic has accelerated many challenging trends for the retail industry. As a result, many retail centers today contain too much square footage and prove difficult to fully lease. These 5 acres represent such a challenge for JAH.”

In its heyday, the complex hosted Sweet Temptations, El Fenix and other popular restaurants, services and retail. Over time, “For Lease” signs lingered, and the area around the old bank remained mostly vacant. Redevelopment plans do not include the building which hosts Brick House Burgers, Zato Thai and the UPS store – that structure will remain.

The project’s chief architect is Lake Highlands resident Tip Housewright, who envisions 75-90 homes. The proposed zoning change from retail to shared access development will allow townhomes and single family, not allow apartments, Mann says.

“Similar single family developments have already occurred in Lake Highlands on the southern end of the Town Center and in other areas,” continues Mann. “This project is envisioned to have a neighborhood feel with well-designed streets, walking paths, green space and play areas. It will integrate with and enhance the existing retail space that will remain. JAH is excited about the opportunity to transform this difficult parcel into a new neighborhood, and coupled with the reconfiguration of the awkward intersection of Skillman and Audelia, this project can be an important part of a general, much-needed revitalization of the area.”

On social media, some have indicated support for the change, but others are mounting opposition. Former Dallas City Councilman Bill Blaydes posted a notice to Facebook encouraging neighbors to voice their opposition.

“The project is massive in the number of requested units per acre,” warned Blaydes, advising neighbors to call the city secretary at 214-670-3738 or citysecretary@dallascityhall.com.

Mann says JAH, too, is ready to answer questions.

“Our entire team is more than happy to discuss the project in more detail with any and all interested residents of Lake Highlands. Inquiries can be directed to me at 214-745-5724 or tmann@winstead.com , and if there is a high level of interest, we will host a virtual neighborhood meeting or series of meetings to further discuss the plan and answer questions.”

No date has been set for a city plan commission hearing on the redevelopment.