The scene shortly before noon today

Commercial Real Estate

Stream Realty Partners Rips Out Oak Trees at Trammell Crow Center

Why does Dallas hate trees so much?

UPDATE here (6/15/17).

Walking down Ross Avenue on an errand shortly before lunch yesterday, I came across the scene you see here. A green backhoe was pushing over a copse of live oaks in front of Trammell Crow Center. The 50-story tower was built 32 years ago, so I assume the trees were close to 40 years old. Why kill trees downtown, where trees are in short supply and desperately needed to make our air breathable and provide shade? There’s a plaza arms race of sorts underway in downtown. The newer towers going up have better designed spaces; some of the older towers are redoing theirs. Here’s a pic of what Stream Realty Partners, the project manager owners of Trammell Crow Center, is doing with its plaza remodel. The image you see below is on a construction barrier that faces Ross. It shows the corner of the plaza where the backhoe was working yesterday.

There’s a granite retaining wall there now. The above image shows that they are going to remove the wall and bring the plaza down to the sidewalk, to create a better interaction with street life, entice people to visit whatever cafe will one day occupy that corner. Good idea, in theory. In execution, though, it’s a disaster. Stream Realty is destroying downtown’s most precious commodity: SHADE! Notice how the rendering introduces those white umbrellas? That’s not the same thing as 40-year-old oaks. There had to be a better solution.

Coming as it does in the wake of two other high-profile tree killings in Dallas, Stream Realty’s tree removal raises questions. Did Stream file an application with the city of Dallas to do this? I’ve contacted four people from Stream, including Ramsey March, a managing director. I haven’t heard back from any of them yet. When and if I do, I will update this post.

Comments

  • Kathy Wise

    NPR did an interesting story yesterday on Texas cities with tree ordinances and Abbott’s latest ridiculous vendetta against such “Socialistic” rules. We replaced the three trees we had to cut down due to rot and death with four more at our home, including two peach trees that I think I ordered by mail for about $30, planted myself, and are now a good 15 feet tall. And if I didn’t have room to plant more, I’d happily pay to plant replacement trees elsewhere in my city. http://kut.org/post/despite-abbott-s-bark-socialistic-tree-rule-still-lets-people-cut-down-trees-austin

    • JamieT

      Kathy, I think many people agree with the approach you took according to your comment as written: they don’t feel compelled to beg anyone’s permission before cutting down their trees based on their own, non-professional opinions – perceived rot, death, blockage of satellite signals, or any other – as to why the trees needed to go, and, to the extent they wish to and can afford to, they replace the trees they wished to remove with trees they prefer.

      Tree ordinances per se are no more socialistic than any other urban zoning ordinances, which is why some people desire living within such governmental restrictions while others flee them.

      If a governmental jurisdiction wants its residents to treat their trees as assets while also encouraging them to remain residents, then the most direct way to do so is for that authority to value them as assets of the residents themselves, and one obvious, direct way to do that would be to invest municipal trees with a property tax exempt value by caliper or other “treeness” value. Mature trees are rather obviously subject to Ooops!-faits-accomplis which replacement by seedlings or saplings can hardly mitigate.

      But if a property owner has to mull over personally electing to put $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, or more of his own immediately irreplaceable net property asset value dollars on the curb, he is likely to think long and hard about doing so. On the other hand, rendering those same values as municipal fines simply encourages property owners to relocate to less authoritarian spaces.

      • Mavdog

        The “Landscape and Tree Preservation Regulations”, or the Tree Ordinance as it is commonly called, does not make tree removal in itself a violation, and the regulations do not apply to single family residential properties of under 2 acres in size. I doubt that the regulations have motivated residents to “flee” due to their existence.

        The purpose is to preserve the urban forest that exists without imposing draconian terms on development. Without the ordinance the goal of an aesthetically pleasing green community would be difficult (but not impossible) to achieve. A commercial property owner can remove mature trees that might be an obstacle to their development; they merely need to provide a plan that is examined and approved if it meets the guidelines of the ordinance.

        Most developers want to include landscaping to their projects as it adds to its marketability and therefore the value of the property. The idea that an investor would not pursue a development or investment in a property due to the “authoritarian” imposition of a landscaping ordinance is absurd.

  • DubiousBrother

    Stop pussyfooting around – bring in the lawyers. Trees are people too. Get Bob Barker on this. https://heatst.com/culture-wars/the-university-of-connecticut-is-training-lawyers-to-represent-animals/

  • OxbowIncedent

    Abbott is no conservative. When a politician starts advocating for new laws, especially for social chage, ala “the bathroom bill” and advocates for more centralized government as Wilonsky’s article alludes to, then Abbott has essentially burned his conservative card. The current Republican leadership in Texas are acting waaay too liberal. Its time to vote these clowns out and return the party to its conservative roots.

  • Bizarro BigTex

    Abbott’s and his crusade against cities having the power to enact local laws/zoning/regulations is insane. He is all for local control except when he isn’t. And how are city rules (which could be turned around by angry voters at the ballot box & what council members are selected) bad, yet state rules good? Just to throw another hot coal on the fire, where does HOA reform in Texas stand? Well, Governor? Crickets-crickets-crickets. Truly bizarro.

  • Scott Ricamore

    Guess they forgot Trammel Crows famous quote “Trees are the answer”