Chalk one up for dogged persistence, it’s been four years since Flora Street Lofts was introduced to city planners.
Today, City Council will move the project up to the goal line when it approves resolutions in favor of tax-exempt bond financing of $15 million and a state 4 percent tax credit of about $7.58 million. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs must approve the tax credit, which will likely occur this summer.
The idea of bringing truly affordable housing to the tony Dallas Arts District was always going to be challenging. It may never have happened had it not been for a commercial developer’s willingness to literally dovetail one tower into another.
In the fall of 2015, the Urban Design Peer Review Panel revisited a project it had first seen March 26, 2013: “The project scope has been revised to include a residential tower component.”
Earlier that year, ZOM Development made a splash in the newswires when it announced its 41-story “Atelier|Flora Lofts” project. The word atelier, French for an artists’ workshop, was a name attached as an homage to the Flora Lofts component, which from the beginning was an effort by the local artists’ non-profit organization, La Reunion TX (LRTX), to provide decent housing in an artists’ community that sorely needed it.
ZOM partnered with LRTX and their original developer, Graham Greene of Green ARC Corp., who was credited with the vision of a live/work artist community right in the middle of the Arts District.
LRTX will be majority owner and Green ARC the minority owner of the Flora Street Lofts portion of the project. Flora Street Lofts is to be comprised of 52 units of which 43 will be an affordable rates.
The artists’ lofts will be in a five-level podium structure, part of which will also be a parking garage for 522 vehicles. Below ground, there will be 140 public parking spaces for visitors to the district, and at street level the building will have 14,774 square feet of retail.
The area of the lofts totals 60,681 square feet of residential space. As to the affordable factor, the Downtown Connection TIF District, which supported this project, required 83 percent of the units be dwellings for artists earning incomes of 50 percent and 60 percent of the Dallas Area Median Income.
Atelier|Flora Lofts will be built between the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, just south of Museum Tower.
ZOM noted of its concept that the luxury residential floors, with 364 rental units, were arranged “in a slender tower to minimize visual impact on nearby properties while maximizing views for residents, and design elements were incorporated to ensure the structure doesn’t impede natural light from reaching the roof of the Nasher Sculpture center.”
ZOM is the developer of The Mondrian, a 20-story luxury tower in Uptown, and is also the original developer of Monarch apartments, a 29-story tower in Austin’s West End Market District.
Stantec and ADD Inc. designed the project and will oversee construction. Construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter and reach completion in 2020.