Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

UPDATE: Frisco City Council Approves Affordable Housing Support

February 17, 2010

Last night, Frisco City Council voted 4-1 to support developer applications for affordable housing within the city.  This is a follow-up to the story I wrote about a few days ago.

The projects still have be be approved for tax-credits by the State’s housing agency.


Low-Income People can Live in Frisco, too

February 12, 2010

The fantastic Candy Evans at D Magazine’s Dallas Dirt brings us a story about opposition to a mixed-income housing development in Frisco because some of the residents will use Section 8 vouchers.

Like Candy writes, “working folks need to live somewhere and Frisco businesses complain they can’t find enough employees who want to drive in from more affordable areas.”   Stacy Brown (Frisco’s Housing and Grants administrator) states in the clip, “to grow with our businesses, we need those workers. We need them to be able to come here. Otherwise, we can’t staff our restaurants, hotels, retail.”

I couldn’t agree with them more.

View more news videos at:

In addition, it’s not a low-income housing community.  It’s mixed income with some of the residents using Section 8 vouchers. 

For the gentleman in opposition in the news clip: the people that you’re so scared of are already in the city.  There the ones working in the Target and other stores near Stonebriar. Keep worrying about pre-conceived fears you’ve read about, your precious suburb will be just fine.  However, I think this might be more of a threat to your property values in Frisco.

Love Field, New Children’s Aquarium, and more

January 31, 2010

There are several interesting briefings coming to City Council this week.

There are a few things that stand out from reading these briefings.

Dallas Love Field Capital Development Program – Public Information Initiative

There is a $500 million modernization of Love Field currently underway. This briefing talks about the Public Information Approach that the city is using.

FY2009-10 Community Development Block Grant Extensions and Reprogramming

According to page 13 of the FY2009-10 Community Development Block Grant Extensions and Reprogramming briefing, there is still a good amount of money in the Minor Home repair program for the South Dallas/Fair Park area.  Here is the info on how to apply.

OneDAY Dallas
We are one month away from citywide implementation of OneDAY Dallas. OneDAY Dallas is the name of the initiative to collect garbage and recycles on the same day.  This is a great idea, and it will save the city money.  Most trash consists of recyclable materials, and landfill space is a finite resource.
One thing that was interesting in the briefing is the Southern Dallas council districts are requesting a recycling roll carts at a much lower rate

Districts that are primarily southern are in bold

District 1 41%    District 6 40%*    District 11 74%

District 2 51%     District 7 32%      District 12 79%

District 3 46%    District 8 27%      District 13 75%

District 4 29%    District 9 65%       District 14 78%

*District 6 has a large portion of area in Northwest Dallas.

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

This briefing discusess the effort underway during which the Aquarium at Fair Park was closed and is being repurposed as the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. It will be open for a sneak preview during this year’s State Fair, and open for good in 2011.

The Downtown Dallas Forum is Today

October 12, 2009
Today at 4pm, the Downtown Dallas 360 Community Forum will take place at the Convention Center.  The purpose is to hear more about the plans for downtown and participate in an interactive discussion focused on our priorities for future Downtown development.
The presentation and discussion will focus on linking The Dallas Farmers Market, the Arts District, the Cedars, Deep Ellum, and The Main Street District as well as future developments.  Hope to see you there!

Renters Don’t Pay Taxes?

September 26, 2009
In the weeks and month leading up to the City Council’s adoption of a new budget, I have seen several blogs and forums that have taken the attitude that renters do not pay taxes and that somehow don’t matter in this city.

I saw one post in particular after the council voted this week, which stated that “property owners in the city, subsidize the majority of the population who are renters.” I guess the same goes for commercial tenants.  Sometimes I wonder about the lucidity of these individuals.   So you mean to tell me that none of the rent that is paid by an apartment dweller or office user ends up in the city coffers? Seriously?

Acting like renters don’t pay tax is an arrogant, failed argument.  A check may not be written directly to the municipality by a renter, but don’t act like property taxes don’t get paid  in some fashion.  Anybody that knows anything about real estate knows that any increase in property taxes will get passed along to tenants in the form of a rent increase. It’s as ridiculous as the people picketing with “I hate government signs” but use our police, electric and water utilities. I mean, if you hate government then you at least have a rainwater collection system and solar panels on your house, right? I digress.

In fact, if you do the math on how much tax some of the “renters don’t matter” crowd pays,  I would bet that our unimportant (to them) household of renters ends up paying more in taxes then that amount and has for years.

I guess if there weren’t people to rent apartments and commercial space, the property owners would happily keep paying the same level taxes to the city and county. I guess you would still have a downtown Dallas, since developers build buildings just so they can pay taxes out of their own pockets instead of having renters whose rent will allow for such payments. Or maybe not.  Maybe, just maybe, the lease payments (rent) of said property end up in the hand of the building owner who then (gasp) pays some of it to the city and county in the form of property tax.

The reasoning of some that it’s OK to raise taxes because Dallas voters approved a bond program also doesn’t hold water.  Voters approved that increase in taxes for bond-program related projects, not to fund city services and programs. 

Homeowners and renters make a city. Picture where your city budget would be without renters, then maybe you’ll reconsider your attitude about our contribution.

DART’s Green Line Signals a New Era of Possibilities

September 13, 2009
While full service will start on Monday, Saturday was the first day that the public could ride the DART Green Line train.  There are four brand new stations, and each one had some sort of party around the station.
Despite the rain, the trains were packed! 
I started at the Baylor stop in Deep Ellum and ran into a few friends at the It’s a Grind coffee shop.  They had a great band, free cookies from Kessler Cookie Company and other fun stuff.  I then hopped on the train and rode to the south end of the line, which is the MLK station.
The Martin Luther King Jr. station is a jewel in itself. There is a lot of history that is detailed in the various art features.  Pictures from famed Dallas photographer R.C. Hickman are featured at the train stop.

The Fair Park station stops right in from of the gate on the Expo Park side.

Then the train moves to Baylor station (in Deep Ellum) where lucky residents of the Ambrose live right at the train stop and onto the Deep Ellum station on Good Latimer where we got a close up of The Traveling Man statue.

The current line will run from the MLK Transit Center to Victory Park, while connecting to the Red and Blue lines at all of the current downtown stops. The rest of the green line stations will be open in December 2010, with the line stretching from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton.
As some have said, access to jobs is an important byproduct of the green line. In a little more than a year people that live in Pleasant Grove, Parkdale, and most of South Dallas will have direct access to jobs from Love Field and to Carrollton.  While there may be bus service to some of these locations, it’s intermittent and it’s a totally different proposition to ride on the train. In terms of time and ease of travel this rail line will put a lot of jobs in reach.
In addition, as events are hosted in Fair Park and downtown the train will ease some of the car traffic that is generated when people are traveling to these destinations.  As I rode the train you could feel the excitement and there was a lot of conversation amongst the passengers about the benefits of having the green line. Once the State Fair hits, it will be a great way to showcase the progress of our city. 
I heard that Victory Station will have a party this coming Saturday. Bring it on!
Video of my trip is below.

Background music: “Car of Love” by Main Ingredient 

Container Homes: Good or Bad?

September 9, 2009
My buddy Preston in Salt Lake City wrote an interesting post on his blog Jetson Green about a container home that was built in Houston.

A container home uses shipping containers as the building blocks of construction.  Reading various websites, people have a pretty strong opinion about container homes and whether they should be allowed in neighborhoods. In Fort Worth, someone wanted to build container homes and was recently denied the opportunity.

According to reports, the cost of the actual containers can range from $2,000-$5,000 and many times multiple containers are used to build a home. The sale prices of a container home can vary from $40,000 into the six-figure range.  I have even seen  contemporary-style 3-story homes built from containers.  They don’t always look like shipping containers, as they can be faced with facades made of brick or other materials.

These two articles give you an idea of the range of homes that can be built using shipping containers. Eventually, this concept will be presented in Dallas.
I think it is an interesting concept, and if the end result doesn’t resemble a container then give it a chance. What do you think?

(photos are by Jack Thompson at Dwell Magazine)

Absentee Experts on the Inner Workings of City Hall

August 25, 2009

It seems like city officials are always under fire for various things at City Hall. It comes with the territory, but it would be nice if writers dug a little deeper when working on complex and important stories.

If a so-called City Hall expert claims in an article that “people can’t go down there and get a fair hearing without paying off everybody in the world,” surely that person should have some evidence to back up such a claim. Surely you’ve been to a City Plan Commission or City Hall hearing in the last 2-3 years. Right?

Here’s my point: I’ve been reading some of the blog posts and newspaper articles in recent weeks, and been left in amazement. Some of the articles use quotes from people that I’ve never seen at one of our City Plan Commission Meetings or City Council Meetings, that never put public comments on the record about cases in their neighborhoods, but yet claim the fix is in on every case.

I wonder if these same people will support the consultant registration idea now that Mayor
Leppert’s plan has come to light. I know the answer to that one.

She must not have been down there two weeks ago, when Jim Dodd came to City Hall and singlehandedly fought a platting case against real estate giant Ridge Property Trust.

With his personally prepared handwritten packages and freehand maps, Mr. Dodd explained to us why he would be flooded out of his home if the plat was approved. Of course, if you just listen to some of the people quoted in these articles, you would think that we were playing Uno at the horseshoe until Mr. Dodd finished his presentation. On the contrary, what resulted is one of the longest discussions we have ever had about a platting case and the case was denied. Mr. Dodd, of humble beginnings and background, beat the well-financed developer. In fact, the story was covered here (before the vote) and here (after the vote). That’s just one example.

A lot has been made about the need for registration, and now it’s here as evidenced in the article cited above. Well hey, these quoted “experts” didn’t know everything. Now they know.

Just like the electronic campaign filing process that is now being used, more things are coming down the pike. Such news runs counter to articles and blog posts doubting that anything would be done regarding consultant registration or any related issue.

Contrary to what’s written in the paper, nobody on our commission is too naive to know what’s going on. Knowing how much a person gets paid for their work is their business. Whether they volunteer or bill by the hour at a high rate is not my concern. It’s our job as city plan commissioners to ignore all of the noise, campaigning, and random conjecture and look at the merits of the case. Such merits don’t change whether it’s a citizen like Mr. Dodd or a well-financed company looking to win a case. It makes for a boring backstory, but if you come to our meetings that’s what you’ll see.

Deck Park is Moving Forward

August 19, 2009

As you all know, the Woodall Rogers Deck Park is continuing to move forward. Here are some highlights of the press release from Joanna Singleton at Jackson Spalding:

Thomas Phifer and Partners Announced as The Park’s Restaurant and Performance Pavilion Architect

DALLAS (Aug. 19, 2009) — The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation has named Thomas Phifer and Partners as the architect for the 6,000 square-foot restaurant and the performance pavilion, two central amenities planned for the 5.2 acre deck park that will span over the freeway between Uptown and Downtown Dallas. Phifer was released to begin developing the construction documents this week.

Plans call for a full restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating as well as a quick, casual café for people who wish to pick up a meal to enjoy in the park. The restaurant will also include space available to rent for private events. The adjacent performance pavilion will be a central gathering space in the middle of The Park and serve as a place for free concerts and events. When not in use, the performance pavilion will have movable tables and chairs for additional outdoor dining.

Restaurant Concept Aims to Reinforce Connectivity

Phifer’s restaurant design is conceived as a simple park pavilion which will encourage a connection with the surrounding landscape through glass walls, skylights and a sculpted ceiling that transitions from the indoor to the outdoor space. All four walls of the restaurant will be constructed with glass from floor-to-ceiling.

On the south side, the glass wall will have retractable glass doors that can open for patrons to enjoy the outdoors. A covered terrace will complement the retractable doors and allow patrons to sit outside and enjoy parkside dining. The terrace will have a direct view onto the Performance pavilion stage so that restaurant guests can enjoy the park’s entertainment programs.

The event space will feature a private dining room which will accommodate up to 80 seated guests with access to an outdoor grill and bar area.

The ceiling of the restaurant will appear to sit lightly on the glass walls and will be constructed of a series of coffers, each with a small skylight to animate the ceiling and to allow restaurant guests to enjoy the day’s changing light.

Environmentally responsible design features such as geothermal radiant heating and cooling and a green ‘planted’ roof will be considered during the design phase.

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation will celebrate The Park’s groundbreaking in September 2009. The base park is expected to be complete in late 2011 with amenities, like the restaurant, expected to be complete in 2012.

Convention Center Hotel Debt is Cheaper than Projected

August 18, 2009

Today, the agreement was signed to set the average interest rate at 4.69% for bonds to build the Dallas Convention Center Hotel. This is significantly lower than the 5.5% rate cap that was set by the Dallas City Council, and will save the city millions of dollars. There are investment commitments for the entire $480 million in bonds.

According to this article, the lower interest rate translates to a savings of $149 million of the life of the bin

This runs contrary to those that doubted that the Convention Center Hotel bonds would be sold. Construction should begin in about three weeks.