Correction: (See below article)
There aren’t many places where urban townhomes could be considered “over-the-hill” after just 22 years, but Uptown isn’t many places.
Gables Residential—a national REIT about as influential as Trammell Crow in the Dallas high-end residential market—is ready to start tearing down Gables Turtle Creek City Place, a medium density, four-story complex it built in 1994.
Gables Residential wanted to go big on this upgrade called Gables Cityplace. They proposed constructing residential towers of about 20 stories with 1,044 units. The developer considers this a three-phase project on 7 acres of what is arguably a two-block site, although it is one continuous long block.
The scale as originally envisioned turned out to be too ambitious. Katy Slade, development director for Gables, met with homeowner associations, by her count, at least a dozen times before she had a compromise she could present to the City Plan Commission.
“The big picture is that we’re restricting the project to 750 units through deed restrictions,” Slade told commissioners at a Dec. 1 session.
It’s worth noting there’s no project manager better suited or more invested in Uptown than Slade. She earned her credentials with Uptown community leaders when she shepherded Whole Foods/Gables McKinney Ave (near McKinney/Boll Tower project) development through using the same community involvement process. She also sits on numerous development-related boards.
Gables Cityplace updated:
- One 20-story building
- One 16-story building
- One 12-story building
- One 4-story building
- 93,000 square feet of green space, including a public plaza and rooftop parks
- Reconstructed Travis Street with landscaping
This was to be four 20-story buildings massed toward the Lemmon Avenue side and a five-story building beside Blackburn Street. But Gables now proposes one 20-story buildings, a 16-story building, and a 12-story building toward Lemmon Avenue, and a four-story beside Blackburn.
Limiting development along Blackburn was of particular concern. Gables Residential also agreed to avoid any vehicular entry to or from Blackburn. There will be three underground parking garages spread across the complex
Other significant concessions include more green space. Initially, the size of a public plaza positioned to face West Village was 21,000 square feet. It has increased to 27,000 square feet. Other open green spaces throughout the development increased from 75,000 square feet to 93,000 square feet.
Gables hired The Office of James Burnett (OJB Landscape Architecture) to design the plaza and other green spaces. OJB is a renowned national firm known for its work on Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, The Park at Lakeshore East in Chicago, and the Arboleda in Monterrey, Mexico, among others.
One would expect remarkable innovations from OJB and the firm won’t disappoint. One of the ways Gables will accomplish its green space goals is through the installation of rooftop parks, Slade said.
The plan for Travis Street comes as another win for the neighbors. Slade said Travis is today a narrow street used by residents to move their trash for dumpster pickup. As it’s a gated community, the street is lined with metal fencing and brick walls. Gables plans to replace the gated community for a more open design limits security to the buildings and garages. That will be apparent all along Cole Avenue and Travis Street.
“We want to make it (Travis Street) a prime drive,” Slade said. “We are using trees as the bollards. This makes it feel like an exclusive drive, rather than the cut-through for high-speed traffic that it has become.”
Several neighborhood leaders spoke in favor of the project, but it had a few naysayers.
Jane Idzy, a board member at Portobello by the Creek Condominiums, said she appreciated Gables’ efforts to tone down their project, but she preferred limiting the site to 600 units. There was also opposition from Claridge condos, which is a condo community on Turtle Creek and therefore 55 feet lower than the project site; this makes them vulnerable to having their urban views blocked.
On rebuttal, Slade said The Claridge Association was an important neighbor and Gables spent a lot of time configuring their structures to preserve that view corridor.
Lest anyone forget, Slade returned to the reason people want to live here. The West Village is a bustling, pedestrian-friendly retail and entertainment center that is endowed with a street trolley. To enhance the pedestrian experience and make the Central Plaza inviting to all, the development will also have a 10-foot sidewalk all along Cole Avenue.
“This is a walkable area,” Slade said. “This is a lot of retail. This is the prime area for density, and it has a lot of what the neighbors around us enjoy.”
The commissioners approved of Gables’ request to create a Walkable Urban Residential District with a height map overlay.
Correction: The original article misstated the number of 20-story buildings to be constructed. The initial plan was to construct four 20-story towers. That was revised to one 20-story tower.