Developing? Not Really

Sam Merten has a solid piece in this week’s Dallas Observer about Fairfield Residential’s fight to tear down the dilapidated, crime-infested Signature Pointe Apartments and replace the complex with a mixed-use development (with retail, restaurants, and residential). Trey wrote about the dust-up in our March issue. City councilwoman Angela Hunt, apparently, was not a fan:

“The developer is well-represented by PR people who can contact folks in the media, can frame this a certain way, and can get photos and stories in D magazine. Neighbors with concerns about it aren’t represented by anybody.”

That is Angela’s reasoning as to why it’s not a big deal that she met with the opposition, but hasn’t yet met with supporters of the necessary zoning change. Let’s go ahead and jump, because this is long and about to get longer.

I think Angela has been on the right side of a lot of city issues, and she’s one of the few watchdogs on the council. But I think she’s wrong here. Sure, it may be smart to look at every potential development as “guilty until proven innocent,” just so you can make sure all the t’s are crossed and all the lower-case j’s are dotted. Better to be wary sooner rather than later, right?

But that only works if the system allows some developments to actually be proven innocent. In this regard, Angela is starting to fall prey to same thing that always bothered me about Laura Miller: wanting to be right rather than wanting to do right.

As a consequence, I think this is yet another instance where the city is shooting itself in the foot. Think about the three biggest zoning battles in the past few months: the Fairfield deal, the Andres brothers’ failure to redevelop the old Carnival site on Henderson, and Whole Foods’ decision to revamp the existing Minyard’s instead of going with a brand-new design. Call me naive, but I see one thread uniting all three: developers trying to do right by the city and the specific neighborhood in question while eliminating a long-time eyesore in the process.

Now, I’m not one to argue for change simply for the sake of change. I think the city gets out the bulldozers too often, in most cases. And I think there are plenty of times where redevelopment is looked to before reconditioning and reconfiguring is given a fair shake. I’m sure someone will come back with, “Oh, that’s just the rich folks at D trying to help their rich buddies.” I drive a beat-up car with a driver’s side window made of packing tape and homespun ingenuity, and sweat my two-drink bill at the Monk more often than I like. I do okay, but I’m not rich.

My only stake in this is simple: if we want to grow as a city, if we want to prosper, some change is necessary. The failure of these deals (and I’m assuming that Fairfield is going to strike out) is going to set back that growth, if not stunt it completely.

“Well,” you argue, “Whole Foods said they did it for the money, not because of neighborhood pressure or the planned development district.” You really think so? You think they spent that much time, effort, and money coming up with a plan for the site, and then at the last minute decided, “Oh…look at this. We can actually save money by not tearing it down. Huh. Throw that other thing in the garbage.” That, my friends, is a description of me doing my taxes, not a multimillion dollar corporation doing business.

Let me say, for the record, that I think the City Plan Commission does a good job on one of the most contentious battlefields this city has to offer. But it seems like, more often than not lately, neighborhood busybodies aren’t letting them do it.

Comments

  • Dooner

    Before cheering city planners, consider the migraine headache of a traffic jam at Lovers Ln. and Greenville that these folks gave us. It’s become a nightmare almost any time of day. More mixed use will only end up with even more traffic congestion for the area. Yes, something needs to be done with the property, but it needs to be done cautiously and thoughtfully.

  • UniversityMeadows

    What a joke! The one thing the media is missing out on is the fact that the “opposition” is being lead by a shadow organization called the “lovers lane coalition”. After some investigation it turns out that the person leading the opposition is a disgruntled developer that lives on the other side of White Rock lake. (He is not within 5 miles of the site) Maybe the media and Angela Hunt should try to understand what is really going on before denying Fairfield’s rezoning request again.

  • Arec Barrwin

    Upper Greenville desperately needs a re-development like this. I can’t imagine the negatives associated with this project outweigh the positives. While I think Angela Hunt seems to be an earnest councilperson, she does seem to be reflexively anti-growth and anti-business.

  • @UniversityMeadows: Check out Sam’s story. It does indeed contain mention of the Lovers Lane Coalition. And you’re right. This is not a real neighborhood fight. It just looks like one.

    @Dooner: Agreed. The traffic situation is crazy there. That’s another reason why this makes sense. It’s transit-oriented development, right by the DART rail station. (I know–people still want to drive. But I like the rail.)

  • ROJ

    Zac for Mayor!

  • Melissa

    I live right by this complex and would love to see it torn down, traffic or no traffic. There are ways to get around Lovers and Greenville…

  • Did Angela Hunt really say the “concerned neighbors” have no representation? Really? I would say Neil Emmons and Virginia McAlester have done a damn good job of squashing some good projects virtually by themselves. They probably have her cell phone number which is why Whole Foods, Fairfield and the Andres Brothers feel the need to go the media to share their story while the neighborhood busybodies are whispering sweet nothings into the City Council’s ears playing to role of concerned citizen. The only time the majority of the neighborhood residents get to have their voice heard is after a project has been killed and they read about it in the newspaper or a magazine.

  • m2thej

    I live off Lovers/Abrams and want nothing more than the development to happen; they’ve kept the neighborhood associations informed along the way. Bring on pushing out low income housing and bettering the neighborhood. Look at what Lake Highlands is doing with their Town Center. Re-development and their new plan with lower height on the plan will be great with the neighborhood. It can’t be worse than the eye sore of the apartments now. Traffic is only going to get worse, regardless of what gets built. At least this may bring more white collar/civilized people walking to and from the DART station so you don’t fear for your life after 5 pm behind CVS.

  • Bildo

    There are some people that, if they had their say, would want Dallas to just be one story wood frame buildings.

    Progress requires that you tear down the old stuff and build newer, better stuff.

  • Neal

    Hmm. Assuming the Observer article is accurate, Angela Hunt has been exposed as a dissembler and a liar. Not at all surprising (after all, she IS a member of the Dallas city council), but instructive all the same.

    I can understand neighbors having reasonable concerns about density, traffic etc., but city staff already vetted those issues. The reason most neighboring property owners are in support of the project is because Signature Pointe is a cesspool and has been for years. I should know, I lived across Lovers in the Village for a couple of years in the mid-1990s. There is simply no credible argument against this redevelopment. Angela Hunt, Neil Emmons and their cohorts cannot be allowed to yet again scuttle good, reasonable development in this city.

    P.S. No Angela, I do not work for Fairfield or anyone else involved in this fight nor do I own property in the area. I am commenting only because self-promoting anti-growth cranks such as yourself tend to piss me off. Cheers.

  • un-edu-ma-cated

    Who knows how concerned neighbors can contact Ms. Hunt directly since she’s blocking development in our neighborhood while she’s reaped the benefits in M Streets?

  • un-edu-ma-cated

    nevermind. simple google did the trick:
    http://www.angelahunt.com/contact.asp

  • jnw32

    I used to think Angela Hunt would make a good mayor. Now, I think she should be voted out of office. She, and her cohorts, seem to kill an awful lot of good redevelopments. Needed redevelopments. Maybe if she were voted out, Emmons could be replaced too. And also Zac, I don’t believe Whole Foods changed their plan because of money.

  • dallas voter

    ask any developer, land use attorney or company that has needed help from the city, and they will tell you that they would rather pull out their fingernails with pliers than have to deal with the city of dallas. it’s a reputation we have earned thanks to people like angela hunt.

  • Nathan

    Let me see if I understand what I am reading. Angela Hunt’s district isn’t getting enough development(!) So whose district is it anyway where all those freakin construction cranes are hovering? District 14 has as much new development as any other three districts combined and Angela is going to take crap over this?

    District 14 also has much higher voter participation than other council districts. Maybe they don’t want any old crap built in their neighborhoods. I’ve seen these “transit oriented” developments around town. Most of them are just apartments and retail with a parking structure squeezed into the design.

  • Annoyed in University Meadows

    I live in the neighborhood that supposedly opposes this development. I’ve heard our neighborhood referred to “the land of the newlyweds and the nearly-deads”. I’ll give you one guess which of those two groups is against the development. The problem is that the older residents are very vocal (“No Retail!”). They actually do turn out at the polls, so politicians tend to listen to them. Unfortunately for Angela, they may not have the life expectancy to actually vote for her in any upcoming elections.

  • Angela Hunt

    Everybody needs a good ass-kicking now and then, and I accept mine in this thread. I will say this, though. Zac’s blog and the comments posted above assume that I’ve decided to deny the Fairfield zoning case. If I had already made this decision, I wouldn’t have postponed the case a month to meet with residents and the developer to try to determine if a compromise can be made.

    I’m meeting with proponent representatives tomorrow, then I have two meetings with neighborhood groups again on Saturday, to discuss the zoning case. I’ve already met with the developer and developer’s representatives several times. Any statement or implication that I haven’t met with them is incorrect.

    The original proposal that came to the CPC and council was to go from MF-1 zoning (36 feet tall, moderate density, residential only) to 72 feet tall with residential and retail. That is a significant change and one I don’t take lightly, particularly when it will set a precedent for the entire area. Since then, the developer has made some concessions, and I need to discuss those changes with the residents to get their feedback.

    Some comments in this thread insinuate that I don’t support redevelopment or zoning changes. My voting record belies this: I supported the high-density SNK development on McKinney Avenue that increased the density substantially, increased the height, and required a sizable set-aside for parkland. Despite opposition from some residents, I found the resulting upzoning to be a reasonable compromise, with the expanse of greenspace providing substantial public benefit. (Now, SNK has sold the property and the new owner plans to do something else).

    I supported the rezoning of the Lincoln and Hanover buildings on McKinney where, in return for additional development rights, I required them to provide wider sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities. I supported the rezoning of the Syms site on Mockingbird that had been very contentious. There are many others, but the bottom line is, I consistently meet with developers and residents on zoning changes. There is give and take on both sides. Most of the time, we can find a compromise. But I am not afraid to say no to bad development proposals or excessive upzoning requests. I won’t vote against a neighborhood and I won’t blindly support upzoning. I take a upzoning changes like this very seriously and, for that reason, delayed the vote to have additional meetings with residents.

    Regarding Whole Foods, I discuss this on my blog at http://www.angelahunt.com/blog/comment.asp?bi=236.

    As for the Andres zoning proposal, I was not involved in that case. It never came before the city council and was not in my council district.

    Zac, I hope you’ll feel free to give me a ring or shoot me an email to discuss issues like this.

  • I feel like I opened Angela up for undue criticism in the “be right/do right” paragraph. It’s still a worry to me, but I didn’t intend that to be taken as “Angela Hunt is the only thing standing in the way of progress.” No. (I was typing that when Angela’s comment popped up, by the way.)

    My comments in the second half of the post stand — and I would bold and underline them if it would be at all legible — as they were not directed at Angela specifically, though, again, I feel some of the commenters took them that way.

    My finger is mainly pointed at the neighborhood busybodies who have too much time and not enough sense. They’re the ones that I find fault with, especially in the Whole Foods/Andres brothers cases.

  • Kat Truitt

    My partner and I own 2 condominiums in the Birchbrook II Condominium HOA located directly across Milton Street from Signature Pointe. We have been meeting with and discussing the re-zoning and re-development of Signature Pointe with the developers since August of 2007. After hearing input from me and hundreds of my neighbors, Fairfield Residential has made significant, positive revisions to the mixed use and residential re-development plans for Signature Pointe. These significant revisions include reducing the height from 72 feet (6 stories) to 47 feet (4 stories), reduced the number of new apartments to 389 from over 400 (Signature Pointe has/had 321 apartments) and scaled back the proposed mixed use, retail by 10,000 square feet! Over 400 of my neighbors and I support and want this Transit Oriented Development that includes retail and residential as currently proposed by Fairfield. We are ready to be the model, multi-family neighborhood moving Forward Dallas!

  • Hamilton

    I am absolutely stunned that this development is opposed. Four stories on Lover’s Lane is not going to block anyone’s sunlight. We have trees in East Dallas taller than that.

    Additionally, any concerns about traffic is an absolute red herring. This is blocks from a DART rail station. It is on Lover’s Lane, in between Skillman and Greenville — all 6 lane roads. If there is any place in Dallas that can handle the minimal additional traffic, this is it. How much traffic is generated by a bank, a potbelly, and a Starbucks anyway? If you’re terrified of this development, the Easter Bunny must give you the heebe-jeebees.

  • bozz

    I know this is taking a long time and many resources are in motion to insure we all are happy, I just don’t want to see the crime come back, and it was really bad for a while. People were getting robbed at a gun point, my place was broken into twice following the Katrina tragedy, my wife is so traumatized that she does not feel safe walking to Central Market alone (300 feet), even now when things have calmed down significantly (because the notorious apartment complex was emptied).
    I welcome the proposed zoning change and with it the opportunity for growth in our area. We need to make Dallas a city worth paying taxes for, because if the standards stay the same, or get even worse, I’m looking for another place to live, therefore sending my tax $$$$ elsewhere. This can become an epidemic and Dallas council members know that, so let’s move in with positive and out with the negative.
    As far as the traffic is concerned — Greenville and Lovers intersection is currently expending, can’t you see the changes. This will help accommodate the increased flow of traffic. But the main problem is that people in the neighborhood are driving even to the store across the street, I believe that after the proposed improvements our neighborhood will see a lot more walking citizens and shoppers vs chains of vehicles lined up to buy few groceries.
    Dallas needs to take a step towards improvement, which by definition means deifying conventionality.
    I lived all over the world and now live at Birchbrook II at Lovers&Greenvile, I love Dallas as a city and can testify that most of it is better than other places in the world, but not our neighborhood.
    Bozz

  • Arbor Court Neighbor

    I attended the Dallas City Council Meeting on Wednesday 2/27, I had printed the complete package on the adgenda item #77 for this zoning change case for my review, go to the website to read it at:

    http://www.dallascityhall.com/council_briefings/agendas/agendas_0208/Final_Agenda_02272008.pdf

    Adgenda Item #77.
    It will take a couple of minutes to download as it contains the entire adgenda for the city council meeting of 2/27/08.

    This briefing will contain all the city staff’s comments that address all the issues and concerns brought up by the opponents to this zoning change. This was prepared by educated professional who are employed as urban planners.

    Neil Emmons votes at the City Planning Commission level exactly the way Angela Hunt wants him to vote, they are one in the same, not a balance of power situation. It is very unfortunate that the other 13 city council members rarely challenge the motion made by the council person in the district where the zoning change is requested. I only know of one time in 8 years when the city council voted against the motion for zoning change in district 14, which was the Hudson Heights “authorization of a public hearing to determine proper zoning” initiated by Veletta Lill via Neil Emmons to down zone the neighborhood from Multi-Family MF-2 to single family R-7.5. The down zoning was denied by 8 votes to 7.

    The city council elected officials are to be leaders in our community, although when it comes to zoning changes they are followers. James Fantroy told me one time “they don’t mess with zoning cases in my district and I don’t mess with zoning cases in thier district” not only Mr. Fantroy said this, but Chaney, Ransansky, basically said the same thing. Oakley, and Blades who are no longer on the council would consider all zoning cases since they were on the CPC and understood lack of due process.

    I was very very impressed with Ron Natinsky’s comments, and followed up by Dave Neuman asking Teresa O’Donnel “Was there any reason given to why Neil Emmons made a motion for deniel of this zoning change at the CPC hearing?” Ms. O’Donnell said no reasons were given.

    I support the rezoning of this propety and the adjacent Plaza Apartments. These are both aging properties that will be replaced by what the market wants, which is retail and housing together.

    I would ask Angela to go to New York City, Paris, London, even Poland and see that all the developments in those cities include ground floor retail, with office and residential components.

    Lets stop the urban sprawl, live closer to work, stay closer to home and keep our air cleaner.

  • Katie

    The logic of the opposition confuses me… How can creating a more pedestrian friendly neighborhood… by means of placing retail within walking distance of hundreds of people and within a quarter of a mile of the Dart rail increase traffic when we currently have traffic associated with Old Towne, Central Market and Tom Thumb? I see this development as a

    How can they oppose the retail because it is too close to single family housing? Tom Thumb is in the same block just across Lovers… this is the same distance. Besides, the single family housing is primarily on the otherside of Skillman and not truly a portion of the direct neighborhood in which the development sits.

    How can they oppose luxery townhomes and apartments? I understand it is a height issue, but 3 to 4 stories is a typical development. Look at the West Village, the same type of development went into a 2-story townhouse dominated area and it has flourished! It can only help the property values of everyone owning property in the neighborhood because of the more attractive and safer property. I can only assume that those opposed to it are truly just afraid that they might eventually be priced out of the neighborhood.

    This neighborhood is filled with multi-family units and Dallas must encourage a more sustainable city… economically and environmentally… by bringing in developments like this, Dallas is encouraging new jobs, increased use of public transportation, increased foot traffic, greater ownership of the area… thus a safer neighborhood and improved property values.

    To me, this is a must in our community! Every in favor of it, STAND UP and SHOW UP!!! Go to City Hall and get our voices heard!

    I will see many of you Saturday at Ozonas

  • Listening? Really?

    Thank you Jeff Duffy! I find it completely amazing that Ms. Angela Hunt will finally meet with us, the proponents, today 3/6/08. I have been a homeowner (Birchbrook Manor) and involved in this re-zoning case since July 2007! We have had to go to the media to get Ms. Hunt’s attention! We the proponents need all the support we can get!

  • Jamie

    SHOW UP AT COUNCIL MEETING TO SHOW SUPPORT MARCH 26, 1PM is all I have to say to this issue, progress can only be made in person not as armchair warriors, attended last month and will attend this month, amazing to see how it is the PEOPLE that make the difference.

    Supporter of Rezoning!!!
    Jamie
    Summerset Village

  • Kat Truitt

    To be clear, there is NO single family home in our neighborhood. Every residence in this neighborhood is either a condominium or an apartment. Those of us that own condominium homes in this neighborhood are already living the multi-family, high density, urban Dallas lifestyle and support the retail, restaurants, and other convenience amenities that this community has had in place for the past 20 – 30 years. Traffic at the intersection of Lovers and Greenville will improve as soon as the City completes adding turn lanes, etc at that intersection. As I said before, we are ready to move Forward Dallas!

  • Eugenia Morris

    I am one of those old people that lives near Signature Point. I am gainfully employed, have children and grandchildren who live in East Dallas, and love this area. I am totally in favor of responsible development. All the other developers currently involved in this area with start projects have not felt the need to ask for any zoning changes. The value of the real estate in this area has more than doubled in the last 5-9 years. Buyers have bought the older units and totally updated them. They have units that are almost new. They get a better location and more square footage than they could get in any part of Dallas. They like the location which is so near to Old Town and all the shops and restaurants. I think Angela Hunt is doing an excellent job trying to do what is best for both the developers and the neighborhood interests. I understand that retail and high density apartments are profitable ,but the developers of Signature Pointe should consider replacing the project with a project that is more in keeping with what is being done in this area. If they have questions they should look to the other developers in the area that are doing a fantastic job of remodeling some older units and building newer ones that keep with the current zoning.

  • Tony

    I really hope this fails. Not because I don’t support this project, but because the citizens of East Dallas have ruined this awesome chance for a great development. Now it will be some mediocre backwash that nobody wants. Residents need to stop whining and start realizing where they live. It’s Dallas, centered in a one of the fastest growing regions in the Country. Stuff is gonna change…..unless somebody is proposing a heavy industrial complex or a dump across for your house…..get over it…or move your condo out to Sherman. I hear they have protected view corridors

  • Sticking to the FACTS

    Fairfield and/or some of its supporters should be ASHAMED of themselves: Stick with the issues and the facts of this zoning case.

    This zoning case has issues and facts to be discussed, not people to be discussed. Some of your group, not all, are not reflecting responsibly or well on your group as a whole.

    State your position and the basis for it – that’s what I intend to do. After the City Council makes their decision whatever it is, the neighborhood will still be a neighborhood. This is real life, with real [adult] issues – this is not high school and a contest between the popular kids and another group of kids. It also not the old vs the young, not the owners vs the renters. It’s people of all types discussing their position regardig a zoning case.

    Please join me in acting like a reponsible adult – state your position and your reasons for it. Nothing more, nothing less. Whatever your position on this zoning case, the zoning case HAS TO STAND OR FALL on its own merits.

    I’m opposed to the zoning case, not to re-development. As Ms. Hunt has so aptly stated – “it will set a precedent for the entire area.” While this case has been going through its process, a precedent HAS ALREADY BEEN SET BY OTHER DEVELOPERS WITHIN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The Newport is being re-modeled and converted to condominiums – WITHOUT A ZONING CHANGE. The Plaza at Lovers Lane is being re-developed (torn down and re-built) into 3-story townhomes – WITHOUT A ZONING CHANGE

  • 1metroplexual

    Who benefits from the defeat of this project?
    Do you think maybe the developers of Mockingbird Station and Park Lane Place might be concerned about this project?
    The Village Apartments and Shopping Ctr. probably aren’t too keen on this development either.
    What is their level of influence on the CPC and City Council votes?
    Just wondering.

  • bozz

    amen TONY,,,

  • 1metroplexual

    Front Burner Editors.
    Thank you for your forum on this issue and the Precinct 3549 goings on.

    I have looked for news and comment on Front Burner in the past but usually found your site to be fluffy, and personality oriented with nothing of interest to me.
    (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

    This kind of reporting / comment is interesting and useful and it’s much needed as the DMN has been so inadequate and late with reporting on local matters and events.

  • Chico Harris

    If anyone is curious as to what the neighborhood REALLY thinks about this project, they merely need to look at the ballots mailed out by the city for the zoning change. The city council received 136 votes against the project and 62 votes in favor. This was from the property owners within 200 ft. of the redevelopment.

    That’s more than 2 to 1 against. I, for one, am glad that Hunt listens to her constituents.

  • William Hilburn

    What a shocking collection of misconceptions. The LANC (Lovers/Amesbury/Homeowners Coalition) is not a “shadow organization” and it is not being lead by someone who does not live in the neighborhood. Our neighborhood is composed of 16 condominium complexes, 8 apartment complexes which have all been purchased and are presumably slated to be demolished. Two of those apartment complexes are being replaced with new condominum/townhouse developments that are within the current zoning.
    Fairfields plan includes the addition of 65,000 sq. ft. of new retail which is not needed or wanted by a vast majority of the homeowners in the neighborhood. Their 4 story apartment building proposal is also not within the realm of every other structure in the neighborhood.
    Our so called shadow organization of opposition is composed of at least 10 condominum complexes that have an overwhelming majority of votes against the proposals. We are also supported by a huge number of surrounding single homes.
    We also understand the concerns of the people that are in favor of the proposals. We are sure they are very concerned that the nightmare that was Signature Pointe may return – or at least they think it will. We seriously doubt that a $22,000,000.00 dollar investment will be left in its current state. In addition, the major deterioration of that complex occured after Fairfield bought and operated the property for two years.
    I would not want to be in Angela Hunt’s position at this time – but we should all get off her back and give her some credit for attempting to visit and hear everyone’s concerns.
    At lastly, Ron Natinsky’s should do a comparison of “Forward Dallas” guidelines to the Fairfield project. It’s pretty easy to see the differences.

  • Carolyn Bell

    I have been a resident/owner in the area since 2000 & have enjoyed most of the development that has gone on–upgrades from apartments @ Bella Gardens & Central Market. I first heard of the proposal from a resident @ Birchbrook I and was informed of a meeting @ Signature Pointe on September 13th, ’07. I attended and received the following info and an elevation drawing with Lovers lane & West elevations.

    Then a request was cited, but never discussed for living area height of 60’–then 46.5’ expected. Garage was 72’, then 54’ .
    Anticipated # of units 448–with 65% being 1 bedroom @ around 700 sq ‘–X 900 sq’ and rent x$1,400/mo or $1.55/sq ft.
    The elevations showed 57’10” as the tallest on the west elevation & 52’2” on the Lovers side.
    No retail schematics were given, but 72,000 sq ft was mentioned.

    Now they say the PD will have 389 units (524 bedrooms) with more 1 bedroom units, with a decrease in bedrooms of 60 bedrooms IN ONE PLACE and 431 units with x 921 sq ft + 20-25 3 story town homes. The rent projected has increased to $1,500 to $2,000 since “residents earn incomes exceeding $60,000 a year”. The Living area heights quoted are 47.4’ and the end towers @57’10” —NO Change Since September ’07.

    They cite a reduction in size of retail from 72,000 sq ft (stated 9/13/07) to 65,000 sq ft as 10,000 sq ft. The question has never been the size of the retail, but the fact of retail encroaching into a residential area. My review of their traffic study showed a daily 7.063 “trips” from the office, retail, drive thru & fast food restaurants. Steve Stamos made note that the # were trips, not cars, but I am unable to figure how the trips are made if not in a car.

    When questioned @ the Ozona meeting with residents, I asked about their Forward!Dallas! statements AND why the part about not going significantly higher than the area had been ignored. “We can’t fit all of them” was the answer.

    Talk of their concessions shows me only a decrease in the size of retail & putting townhouses “to buffer the move from retail to residential”. They have consistently denied any consideration of height/story reduction like accepting MF2 and have been unwilling to move on making retail on the residential edge. The PD talk that we have seen has no real changes from what they proposed in the fall.

    I really resent being threatened that they will “slap a coat of paint on the place & re-rent it like before, with some derogatory remarks about former residents. Some say that is why we need to accept their proposal, but I say it is more evidence of their unwillingness to listen to the residents who will still be here when they profit-take and go on to the next “revitalization target”.

    Fairfield mentions one recommendation from Forward!Dallas! related to revitalization, but has ignored repeated expressions of the doubling of height which the caveats expressed on height, mass & density not appropriate to the Neighborhood. Retail is not needed–and encroaches into residential area on the east side of Matilda–all the way from Lovers to Ross Ave–that encroachment can be hazardous to neighborhoods all along Matilda.

  • Typical Deal For East Dallas

    I’ve read this blog for a couple of days and it’s so typical. Good projects just die in East Dallas. Angela Hunt touts that she supports projects, but all of those are in Uptown. Every time someone wants to do something good a very small number of people defeat it. The Whole Foods and Andres cases come to mind and this one too.

    Here are some facts I’ve observed and errors in other blogs:
    The only vote that counts in a condo association is the owner, so totally throw out the notion that twice as many people are against the request.

    Second, the “coalition” group has NEVER had an open meeting. These are just a few people who don’t even live in the condos and in some cases in the immediate area. They are comprised of the veterans of east dallas zoning wars. The more I thought about it this is a pretty democratic site and there just aren’t that many people against it.

    Third, it’s ridiculous to think this sets a precedent. There’s a HUGE Tom Thumb across the street.

    Fourth, the Village will redevelop and you can be sure they want more height too. Come on people no one wants to live in a garden style apartment. They aren’t safe. The only people pushing this are the people that live in the ranch style houses way across skillman. Things have advanced since 1970. The Village and the shopping centers, which they own, are sure to be in favor of this.

    Fifth, everyone does a lot of talking about supporting DART and we all pay for it everyday. So if we are spending all this money on DART, why don’t we try to do some cool stuff around stations.

    Sixth, do people remember what used to be where Central Market is. Why not improve the entire area.

    Last, I’ve been to City Hall a few times on things I really care about. It’s so sad. This Neal Emmons guy is so shameless. He plays to the crowd and panders endlessly (so does the head guy Bob Weiss who may be even worse). They are petty little tyrants who play favorites. Ask Emmons why he gives Harwood a blank check on all their zoning requests (also a good article in the Observer).

    East Dallas doesn’t stand a chance and it’s a shame. The tax burden in this city is so outrageously taken on by the homeowners because projects like this don’t happen.

    Oh one more thing, why punish Fairfield for doing a taller building. I’d much rather look at that than I would a bunch of parking along the street. They’ll have a building (and it looks a lot better than their first effort) and a strip of landscaping. To listen to my neighbors, they prefer old style garden style apartments with bunches of staircases, parking, etc. in the front.

    Angela, we all know you read this. Why don’t you embrace some progress on this and do a mixed use project. You say you like these. I’ve voted for you b/c I thought you represent a new Dallas. We can’t pass up on too many of these options. I don’t know if developers really think Dallas sucks, but it worries me (maybe this is why we don’t have a convention center hotel). And don’t pass on the Andres thing; you knew about it and really only about 3 or 4 people (people Emmons and others think are important) care about.

    Stop fearing the email blast sent out by Virginia or Norma or some of the people from the past. They don’t live here, don’t understand mixed use, and won’t ever embrace a transit oriented area.

    I ride the train and cannot afford to do otherwise at $3 a gallon. I notice people walking (one guy told me he lives in the Park Cities–gas must really be expensive) to the Lovers station and I think it’s great. I bought my condo b/c I could walk. Give other people a chance to do so, Angela. It’s also time for you to cut loose Veletta’s old lackey. You might want to consider someone who will be more fair.

  • Embarrassed for the opposition

    I am embarrassed for a lot of you folks on the opposition side. For one thing, most of you speaking up on here, have not attended all the informational meetings, therefore, do not have all of your facts or numbers straight. You apparently do not know that you are now the minority and you do not know that we have support from all of the condominium complexes. We have proponents on all boards, as some choose to remain anonymus. Fairfield has done an excellent job in meeting with the neighborhood. I don’t know of another developer that would spend this much time, nor care about the neighborhood they are developing in, as much as Fairfiled and Eastern Partners has. I do not understand why you all have such a problem with it being 4 stories! Come on guys! Arguing over 12 feet is the most ridiculous thing I have EVER heard. And the retail! Do not understand that this is SERVICE oriented retail FOR OUR neighborhood! It is not DESTINATION retail! Fairfield has done a wonderful job in being selective on who will go into the retail. Think how nice it would be for us to be able to walk down the street and have coffee together (sense we love each other so much). Maybe we could have fun get togethers instead of everyone being on this BLOG at home on their computer! The retail that has been proposed will add tremendous value to our neighborhood. I will not let it be just residential, as it would not benifit the homeowners of this neighborhood.

  • Kat Truitt

    COUNCILWOMAN HUNT, THANK YOU for MEETING WITH ME and MY NEIGHBORS TODAY TO DISCUSS THE FAIRFIELD at SIGNATURE POINTE RE-ZONING & RE-DEVELOPMENT PLAN (Z067-259). AS PROPONENTS of POSITIVE, PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT SUCH as is BEING PROPOSED BY FAIRFIELD for SIGNATURE POINTE, WE APPRECIATE HAVING the OPPORTUNITY TO PERSONALLY CONSULT WITH YOU ABOUT RE-VITALIZATION in/around OUR NEIGHBORHOOD and DISTRICT at LARGE. SEE YOU SATURDAY!

  • BBM

    Can you please expand on this comment, “Typical Deal For East Dallas”?

    “Stop fearing the email blast sent out by Virginia or Norma or some of the people from the past. They don’t live here, don’t understand mixed use, and won’t ever embrace a transit oriented area.”
    I just now read your comment, this is VERY interesting. Are you refering to Norma Minnis? She is one of the founders of the LANC! Wait a minute, is there something we, the supporters should know about? Please expand. Could this be the connection?

  • Yea Supporters!

    Thank you to all my neighbors in SUPPORT of the Fairfield project! We did awesome today, at both the Supporters and opposition meetings! The opposition looked pretty silly and ridiculous today. Go Fairfield Go!

  • Eugenia Morris

    I think yesterday was a very informative day for all of our friends and neighbors. By asking for straight zoning Fairfield has been asking everyone in our area to sign a blank check,and if we didn’t sign that check, they threatened us and especially those condos nearest to Signature to simply slap a coat of paint on it and rent it. I don’t think that is a very admirable way to do business. In addition, it is clear that there are major problems with the “strip” shopping center that make it not conducive to an urban friendly environment. I think we should thank Angela Hunt for spending so much time with her constituents. All of us want Signature gone but not at the expense of the integrity of our area. I am proud of all of my neighbors who want to have a very active input into the quality of what will replace Signature Point. We will all be here long after Fairfield has moved on to the next development.

  • Standing up for Fairfield

    Ms. Morris, it sounds like you are one of the ones that had not attended any of the several meetings that Fairfield had attended. THEY, Fairfield, HAVE NOT EVER THREATENED US, the neighbors, NOR have they ever asked us to sign a BLANK CHECK. I find it quite unfortunate that the LANC coalition has embedded this mentality into the minds of our naive neighbors. If I could sue the LANC, I would! They, the LANC, have failed to infom or allow our neighbors to be properly INFORMED of the Fairfield project. They, the LANC, have held their own private meetings and not allowing Fairfield the chance to go over the plans. So, that is how the ignorance has spread among the opposition. I am sure that the LANC has also failed to inform you that this WILL INCREASE OUR PROPERTY VALUES and the HIGH END SERVICE RETAIL WILL INCREASE OUR PROPERTY VALUES TREMENDOUSLY. I am a homeowner within the voting area (Caruth Manor) for this redevelopment, and I want what is best FOR my neighbors, my neighborhood and East Dallas. We have tried to meet with Ms. Angela Hunt for the past 8 months, and I am very appreciative that she has finally come around to listen to the proponents this past week. I think this has delayed the timeline tremendously and now I hope that NEIL EMMONS will come around and respond to Fairfield’s request for the PD’s, as they have tried to get him to respond for the PAST 3 MONTHS! In the meantime, I ENCOURAGE the people that have selective hearing from the LANC, will THINK OUTSIDE THEIR BOX and look at what Fairfield has brought to the table. This is the best thing that has happened to our area SINCE 1970!

  • Williamsburg

    This goes to “Yea Supporters!” – I was present at both of the meetings you are refering to. Fairfield supporters were finally made to realize that a straight zoning change was not in the best interest of the neighborhood. Angela Hunt made it very clear that a PD must be filed by Fairfield. Did you forget that they absolutely refused to do this earlier when the concern was voiced originally? A PD is one of the things that the LANC has been calling for since the beginning. Now Fairfield has no choice in this and must file a PD – this is a plus for the entire neighborhood not just the supporters.
    It was also obvious that Angela can see the difference between a walkable Urban development and a strip shopping center. The LANC has tried to make this point from the start. Angela’s questions to the audience asked specifically if you would rather see larger sidewalks and no frontage parking – the response was overwhelming in favor of those changes and she made it clear to Fairfield that without them there would not be much progress. The Eastern Partners boys did not look to happy about that request.
    The few opposition members present did not make themselves look silly and ridiculous – what are you talking about – the meeting was for questions and concerns on both sides of the issue. You would benefit the supporters if you spent more time being positive and understanding that the opposition has a right to voice their concerns and their concerns are valid. You might make note that the neighborhood was not given a fair opportunity to attend this meeting – selective invitations were sent out.
    The other meeting you are refering to was a meeting called by the LANC at the Zion Church immediately following the Ozona meeting. This meeting was a gathering of core committee members of the LANC which consists of BOD Presidents and Members from 10 of the surrounding Condominium Complexes along with many other homeowners who have put forth great effort to compare facts and research both sides of this issue. No debate, no fanfair, no free breakfast, just concerned homeowners trying to simplify the issue by stating their concerns so that some type of compromise can be proposed by Angela for both groups.

  • University Place

    Williamsburg:

    You attended both meetings, but complain that only selective invitations were sent to the Fairfield meeting? How, exactly, were invitations sent out to the Zion meeting? Selectively? Was the neighborhood given a fair opportunity to hear all of the LANC’s complaints aired before Angela? I would have liked to have attended both meetings, but LANC didn’t send me any notification of a meeting at Zion.

  • Annoyed in University Meadows

    Williamsburg-
    I attended the meeting at Ozona’s because I saw it listed in the Dallas Observer article and in the comments to this post on Frontburner. I didn’t receive a “selective invitation.” I saw no public notification of the LANC meeting, but would have attended, if the coalition had publicly notified residents, rather than sending out selective invitations!

  • Question to Williamsburg

    Fairfield did invite everyone that was within the “voting area”. There were several people there that at Ozona from the opposition. It was their first time to HEAR from Fairfield. None of the “supporters” were invited to the Zion opposition meeting. There were about 15 supporter at the oppostion meeting out of the 40 people that attended. I don’t think that that is fair to say 10 condominium complexes were there, considering that 25 of the people were from The Danbury, and the board presidents were from the complexes farthest away from Signature Pointe. It is also not fair for you to imply that Fairfield nor Eastern Partners has faile to get a PD. If you had all of the facts, you would know that they have been trying to get it to PD for the past 3 months. Once again, the opposition is misinformed by the leaders of the LANC. We need to all be on the same page. And leave the LANC group out of the picture, as they keep twisting the facts and not properly informing the neighbors who actually live here. Trust me! There are several homeowners within your complex that are “supporters” of the Fairfield project, so you cannot claim your complex as the oppostion.

  • FYI

    Let’s be clear here. The LANC has said that they do not want change what so ever. I am glad that Ms. Hunt was there (at Zion) to explain to the oppostion that they need to be willing to compromise.

  • Let’s challenge the leaders of the LANC

    The leaders of the LANC are: John Allegro, Susan Norman, Norma Minnis, and Allan Liebel.

  • Hmmm

    I find it interesting that John Allegro lives in Forest Hills (check out DCAD). Why is he so interested in a development that is 8 miles away from his house?

  • Interested in Neighborhood Harmony

    Perhaps the best use of this space is to figure out what people on both sides want in place of Signature Place.

    Both sides want something new, right?

  • UniversityMeadows

    I am embarrassed that Allan Liebel is a leader in the LANC. As a resident of University Meadows I think it is very unprofessional to use your position of power to influence those in our neighborhood. Let me be VERY CLEAR on this point – if the president of the University Meadows Neighborhood Association had come forth and publicly told the Association about his participation I would not be so upset. But, to allow LANC propaganda to litter our neighborhood is an embarrassment to the UMNA. Especially since he gave inside information on how to place a proxy vote to deny the support of the UNMA to Fairfield. I apologize to all who support Fairfield on behalf of University Meadows!

  • Katie

    Just to be clear, in the meeting at Ozona’s, Angela Hunt asked if everyone wanted a walkable neighborhood… not do you want the 10 ft + sidewalks with the retail right on the street. A neighborhood is as walkable as you make it… and our neighborhood is one of the most walkable in the area. Me and my family walk everywhere… to the grocery store, to petsmart, to Starbucks, to go out to dinner, to the dart rail… for everything. Having the retail set back (70+ ft. as previously requested by the opposition) will not stop anyone who truly wants to walk from walking to a store. It sounds like a poor excuse for laziness.

    When Angela Hunt asked if the neighborhood wanted the development like it is designed now, with teaser parking… I would say 65 percent of the people or more raised their hands.

    I too am disappointed that the opposition didn’t bother to invite me to their meeting. The meeting at Ozona’s was pretty highly publicized through the various articles written about the project. I am closer to this project that just about anyone (less than 35 ft), and I didn’t even receive a flyer. So much for voicing the concern of the neighborhood… it is sad to me that my neighbors aren’t willing to invite me to a meeting regarding my home and to hear my opinion. Instead they go about blissfully ignorant that the whole neighborhood sees things the way they do.

  • Neil Emmons city plan commission member is the problem he will organize opposition and make the applicant think he’s ok with their plan and wait until meeting day and slam dunk them. I served with him and saw it happen time and time again. I even spoke with Ms. Hunt whom I respect and support about him.

  • Birchbrook Manor Homeowner

    Come on 75206 & 75214

    ——————————————————————————–

    Hello everyone! If you live in Angela Hunt’s district, in 75206 or 75214, we need your support! Please go to the website below and click on the tab “show support”, a letter will pop up and you just fill in the blanks and send it. Let’s welcome this 130 million dollar project into East Dallas! The hearing and voting will take place next Wednesday MARCH 26TH at City Hall. Thank you for your time.
    http://www.signaturepointe411.com

  • Lovers Lane DART station

    We must not forget how VITAL this Fairfield project is to the Lovers Lane DART station. This project is 2 blocks away from this DART station! We have NO new urban developments to support this station . On top of the Lovers / Central bridge we have 3 FLAGS: one is for University Park; the State of Texas flag and then there is the City of Dallas flag! This shows the 2 cities coming together! On our side, wouldn’t it make sense to have a NICE NEW REDEVELOPMENT? This area could use this new development! Let’s not foget this area! Everyone is so preoccupied with the growth in Lake Highlands, Victory Park and West Village. We need to be heard over here, as this Fairfield project goes along with the future planning of Dallas!

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  • Wow, I just got back from the council meeting today. That was incredibly intense! Has anyone ever seen it get that heated before? Thoughts?

    I personally would like to thank the all of us who came out (took off time from work and other responsibilities of such) to be a part of democracy in action! Also, thank you to those council members who spoke out on the issue. “Thank you” to Angela Hunt especially, who has really put in the efforts at this point to “hear” the neighborhood!

    I must admit that my husband and I walked back to work from the meeting feeling frustrated that we seem to have been misinformed at the last Ozona meeting about the purposes of the PD. I appreciated the council member next to Angela and the mayors concerns about the decision to move the project back to PD. But, are we now just caught up in a legislative nightmare that could have been easily fixed at the meeting this afternoon?

    Here is what I got from the concerns expressed:

    1) Worst case scenario – We won’t see this resolved in front of the city council until August because any random member of the opposition can pay $150 dollars to have this stalled in front of the planning commission and again in front of the city council. But it is important to note that Angela clarified to the room that the deal she has worked out with the developers will be supported by her from here on out. Does this mean we can stop taking off all these hours from work to attend the next 4 meetings, while we are stalled????

    2) The developer will likely spend another $1.5M on an investment while it sits for the next 5 months tied up in legislation when the consensus has already been made to move on the deal Angela has cut with the developer. (Granted the developer “is a big boy”…. But what if financing falls through before then?????)

    3) It was pointed out that all of the reasons why Angela wants a PD (height, density, setbacks, ect.) can be regulated most effectively by a Building Permit… Angela – please explain why a PD is needed at this point. I’m still confused; it appears that both the proposed Deed Restrictions and PD would have both ended us up in the court system (which I thought was your reason for the PD). I understood during the meeting that with a PD we (the neighborhood) can go after the owner with criminal charges if a PD restriction is broken and only civil charges if a Deed Restriction is broken. What else?

    If you had passed this with Deed Restrictions today and Fairfield sold tomorrow, would this still have to go through a building permit? Would the risk have then been that the next owner can propose anything in a building permit that they want (as long as they follow the loose Deed Restrictions)???

    4) This sets an awful precedent that Dallas is a city that makes progressive and council supported development wait in the face of millions of lost dollars. Waiting for what reason? At what cost? I’m not a developer, but I am in business and that sounds like a huge mistake. Uncertainty is the Death of Business Decisions…. Just look at our clumsy economy at this point. Everyone in my line of work is holding their breath in the boardrooms and currently making no decisions because there is still so much uncertainty in the market.

    5) Speaking of Economy — We all know the economy is soft. Will Fairfield loose financing or commitments from retailers in the next 5 months? The Mayor seemed to feel strongly that this is a possibility. What will we be left with then?

    Wow these are a lot of tough questions thrown out there. I’m interested to see your (Angela and the blog) responses. Unfortunately, the decision has already been made and I do acknowledge that we are now just playing Monday Night Quarterback.

    And, what about that guy who yelled “CORRUPTION” during the meeting? That was awesome! …I was secretly hoping someone would get dragged out of there by security… 🙂 Craziness I tell you! If you didn’t show up today; you missed a great meeting!

  • CONCERNED SUPPORTER

    Thank you Stacey! That was well said and such an honest post coming from another supporter. I felt and feel the same way. Thank you for putting it in letter form.

  • Snoop Dizzle

    I’m a new addition to the area and obviously late to the game.

    Can someone clarify exactly what is proposed for parking for area? Is it a West Village type area, with internal parking and buildings right up to the street? Or is it an Old Town type development, with parking in front and the shops/apts set back?