High-Rise Proposal Gets Commission Approval

Here's a rendering of the proposed apartment complex.
Here’s a rendering of the proposed apartment complex.

Dallas city staffers agreed with the town of Highland Park’s persistent objection to a proposed high-rise apartment complex along Cole Avenue, adjacent to the Katy Trail and across the street from HP’s southern border.

The city’s plan commission, however, did not share the sentiment of Highland Park officials and residents who visited the council chambers at City Hall on Thursday. Commissioners voted against the recommendation of staff and supported the project, which would replace the existing Saltillo Apartments.

“I think this is a project that is in the best interests of Dallas,” said commissioner Paul Ridley, who added that such taller, higher-density apartment structures are one key to future development in the city. “We have to look at appropriate places that can support higher-density development, or else we can remain mired in the past. I think this makes sense.”

With the plan commission’s blessing, which came with only one objection, the proposed rezoning will be forwarded to the Dallas City Council for its approval.

The development would include a maximum of 258 luxury units and a building height of up to 84 feet. The multifamily zoning restrictions currently on the property allow for only 240 units and 36-foot buildings. The current two-story complex, which would be demolished, has 58 units.

It would include an underground parking garage and fitness center,

“We feel uncomfortable with the maximum number of units and the maximum height,” said Warren Ellis, a senior planner with the city of Dallas, explaining the staff’s recommendation for denial of the planned development subdistrict.

Dozens of Saltillo supporters wearing green stickers were on hand at the meeting, far outnumbering detractors including HP Mayor Joel Williams. There was a hint of provincialism in some of the comments by the handful of speakers on both sides.

“It’s my belief that the recommendation for denial is based on outside interests,” said Brenda Marks, president of the Oak Lawn Committee.

The project was proposed more than a year ago by a group headed by Otto Maly, who owns a commercial real-estate firm in Columbia, Mo., along with Dallas-based Provident Realty Advisors. They purchased the 2.4-acre property under the name Travis Cole Apartments LP.

“The way we attract people back to the city of Dallas is to create density in urban areas,” said Jerry Jackson, Provident vice president of development. “Our design respects the trail as a front yard.”

Many in opposition to the project spoke about protecting the integrity and beauty of the Katy Trail, a popular 3.5-mile pathway that winds though the Uptown and Oak Lawn neighborhoods.

“The trail is one of the most utilized and successful parks in the city of Dallas,” said Wayne Smith, a board member for Friends of the Katy Trail. “We need this park to exist as an urban oasis. The proposed increase in height and density is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.”

The application was filed with the city in February 2013, and in September, the HP town council passed a resolution against the development. Since then, it has openly encouraged its residents to lobby against it, citing increased traffic near Abbott Park and a negative impact on property values, among other issues.

“We need to protect the Katy Trail,” said Highland Park resident Ken Elmgren. “We cannot sacrifice our natural resources for the sake of development.”

After initial objections last fall, the developer revised its plans to increase the setback on the side of the complex facing the trail, and to offer a stair-step approach to building height, whereby only a portion of the complex would be eight stories. Jackson admitted the building would cast a shadow over the trail at certain times of the day.

In 2005, a different developer lobbied to build an eight-story apartment complex on the same site, but was denied by both the plan commission and the Dallas City Council.

19 thoughts on “High-Rise Proposal Gets Commission Approval

  • May 8, 2014 at 10:48 pm
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    Why should Dallas cater to HP? Dallas needs to concern itself with the best interests of Dallas.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm
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    You forgot to mention the bullying tactics by the very scary Oak Lawn Committee. Whoa who are those people!

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  • May 9, 2014 at 10:05 am
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    @Texas Slim, the best interests of Dallas include a good working relationship with the Park Cities.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 11:12 am
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    Looks like it’s time for HP to squeeze traffic to and from the toll road to a dead crawl.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 11:20 am
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    Mayor Williams, hold the press, please. I’m kindly saying this for your own good, but,….. talking about preserving the Katy Trail, i’m all for that. But don’t play environmentalist when Highland Park allowed aerial spraying on the entire town with pesticide, remember? Wildlife, plants, people, animals, fish, our creeks…. How about protecting those?

    And Mayor Williams, you have issues with Southwest Airlines, i.e airplane noise at Love Field, now you have an issue with development in Dallas. Well, times are changing. I find it interesting that the HP Town Council complains about development near Abbott Park, etc. but then HP Town Council failed with cleanliness with mosquito larvae in the children’s broken water fountain bowl a few years ago in the same park their trying to protect.

    What about all the development in Highland Park? Are you doing anything to protect our history from the wrecking of the many homes going on? Sir, it seems you are too busy minding other peoples business in Dallas. My thoughts and opinion.

    All the best.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm
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    @1st anon, the best interests of Dallas involve crafting a plan for growth that best accommodates the citizens of Dallas (present and future). Perhaps HP should focus upon its own infrastructure. They can start with a plan to revamp that disaster of a stretch of road along Lovers Lane just east of the Dallas North Tollway.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm
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    “What about all the development in Highland Park? Are you doing anything to protect our history from the wrecking of the many homes going on?” Sam

    I agree wholeheartedly. I saw a home on S. Versailles Ave. (just south of Flippen Park) being demolished just this morning. HP may become unrecognizable one day with all the different architectural styles of McMansions sprouting up.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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    I don’t give a hoot about the Katy Trail, but I do care about the fact that his high rise will be in HPISD. Please, let’s add more kids to an already overcrowded high school. Here’s the link for the petition folks: http://chn.ge/1kJ4inT.

    Oh, Texas Slim, I can assure you that HP and UP have ample money to take care of their infrastructure, but they just don’t know what they are doing. The current Lovers construction is still not finished (and taking forever), and the proposed plan will put many of those existing businesses out of business and mess up parking for those who are left. I wish the powers that be would stop spending their time discussing whose turn it is to be mayor next, and spend some time reflecting on what is best for the community.

    Let the wrecking ball argument rest, boys. The houses will keep going up because that’s what people want to buy with their money. Yep, it may be cookie cutter, but it’s clear it sells. Once you’ve lived in a 75 year old home, the luster kind of wears off when you get tired of looking at your 9 ft ceilings and leaky pipes.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm
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    NFW, as I recall, Mayor Williams said something about Highland Park not having demographic problems back in 2012. Too funny. Now we have this explosion of school kids in HPISD. Hey, you folks voted in the HPISD Trustees, so fire them for no foresight. The growth has been going on for some time now.

    My own observation about your comment that UP and HP have “ample money to take care of their own infrastructure.” I have observed on Beverly Drive the cracking of the newly repaved street on the east side of Beverly Drive and, cheap red brick tiles buckling. And lets mention the horrific caulking around the new cheap red brick tiles at the street corners. Whose idea was that! I’m chuckling…

    And as I understand, Dallas County subsidizes these street renovations. HP must not have too much money because someone sure isn’t supervising in HP, its a sad disgrace to our town! Would never happen under my watch. Sleepy sleepy HP.

    And talking about the environment, what was up with construction workers who were working on the resurfacing of Beverly Drive going down to Hackberry Creek getting water in their dirty construction buckets and apparently using the water for their street cutter, hey? Any heads roll for that?

    Some in HP talk from both sides of their mouth.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm
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    @Texas Slim, if the citizens of Dallas really wanted to have the attitude that you have, then we’ll take Mockingbird Lane, Lover’s Lane, the Tollway that cuts through HP, as well as the millions of HP dollars that have helped fund Dallas’ Arts District, KWP, and other charities and just insulate ourselves from the rest of Dallas.

    But I don’t think HP or Dallas really wants that. Most intelligent people understand the necessary symbiotic relationship of the HP and Dallas.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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    Then these children can go to Dallas Schools since Dallas wants the building so bad!! NOT HPISD.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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    @NFW, there are two high-rises. This article talks about a 7-story that I do not think is in HPISD. Your link is to a change.org petition about a proposed high-rise that is in the City of Dallas, but the HP school district in Preston Center.

    Two different high-rises.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm
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    “Most intelligent people understand the necessary symbiotic relationship of the HP and Dallas.” – 1st anon

    LOL. Did you READ the article? Commissioner Paul Ridley believes the project referenced here is “in the best interests of Dallas”. He represents his constituents. Those constituents are residents (and taxpayers) of Dallas.

    Thanks for the laughs.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm
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    And again, Slim, both Mr. Ridley and you do not understand that working with Highland Park IS in the best interests of Dallas. He doesn’t get it. Neither do you.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 10:23 pm
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    Could HP have annexed the land? Yes, a high-rise is better for businesses in Dallas and the tax base but it’s a shame that the kids will go to HPISD schools and HP residents don’t have a say. Can Dallas make changes in other Dallas areas where kids go to HPISD?

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  • May 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm
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    “And again, Slim, both Mr. Ridley and you do not understand that working with Highland Park IS in the best interests of Dallas. He doesn’t get it. Neither do you.” – 1st anon

    His duty is to his constituents. End of discussion.

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  • May 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm
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    I live on this block and it is NOT in HPISD. It’s Milam/Rusk/North Dallas. NFW has this project confused with the one in Preston Center.

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  • June 1, 2014 at 9:22 am
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    Since when is a 7-story building a “high rise?”

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  • August 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm
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    This building would be considered a mid rise in NYC. The scale of the building does not appear to overwelm the neighborhood. There appears to be ample buffer. Unlike the MacMansions that have destroyed the HP neighborhood I grew up in. Ask yourself does this building have a good walkscore? Does it satisfy the Hal Box 5 minute popsicle rule?
    As an architect I can see some potential failures of the window wall if not addressed early in the CD phase.

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