By a narrow margin, Lincoln Property Company secured the support last week of the Oak Lawn Committee for a mid-rise, high-density residential project adjacent to the Katy Trail in Uptown.
The 16-to-14 committee vote gives this very well-financed developer the customary neighborhood support expected from the City Plan Commission, at least once the case gets there — it is not yet scheduled for an appearance. Lincoln Property wants to build a 309-unit apartment community, but will need a zoning change to go five or six stories on a block that is currently capped at 36 feet.
Angela Hunt, a former Dallas City Council member, represented Lincoln Property’s case to the committee. She is an attorney in the real estate section of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr and leads the firm’s zoning and land use practice.
The project’s boundaries are the Katy Trail to the west, Carlisle Street to the east, Hall Street on the north and Bowen Street on the south.
The block Lincoln Property has its sights set on is occupied by the Turtle Creek Terrace Condominiums, which means the company will have to buy out well over 100 condo owners. But Turtle Creek Terrace, a collection of two-story buildings, was constructed in 1964 and has gone long in the tooth compared to its more recently arrived neighbors. The Vine Condominiums across Carlisle Street are taller by one story and younger by 42 years.
Hunt put several incentives on the table for the Oak Lawn Committee’s vote. Lincoln Property would reserve 5 percent of the units as affordable housing—affordable in the sense that they would be available to tenant applicants earning 80 percent or less of the area median family income.
In addition, the new buildings would be set back from Katy Trail by at least 35 feet, more than the current setback — but it should be noted that the trail is heavily screened by foliage and the buildings are already noticeably distant. Finally, Hunt offered new public connections would be made to the trail, and power lines would be buried.
The project still has opposition, though. The Friends of the Katy Trail are opposing it. And it bears repeating that the Oak Lawn Committee vote was one “nay” away from a tie. Discussion amongst committee members and the audience was reported to have been contentious leading up to the vote. The stakes, as residents see it, are that Uptown would lose 115 affordable housing units in exchange for 15, and their struggles against the total gentrification of Uptown would be dealt a serious body blow.
Lincoln Property is a national developer that has occasionally partnered with Goldman Sachs on projects; they did the 1900 Pearl tower together in the Arts District. Lincoln Property was behind the Legacy District in Plano and The Star in Frisco. Oak Lawn district residents wouldn’t be too off the mark to assume that Lincoln Property could easily afford more than a measly 5 percent affordable housing cut. A Candy’s Dirt commentary gave the committee a thumbs-down, accusing the board of being infiltrated by pro-developer members who have been doing a disservice to the district’s neighborhoods in recent months.