When the town of Buckingham was incorporated in the early Fifties as an antidote to urban living, most every lot covered 2 acres, horses grazed alongside sprawling houses and country lanes connected the 161-acre tract to the outside world. Big-city life was worlds away.
As 1984 begins, Buckingham stands on the brink of becoming the antithesis of the peaceful rural community that its creators envisioned almost 30 years ago. Surrounded by Richardson, Buckingham has changed from a quaint country community to an extremely attractive hunk of real estate.
On January 15, more than 50 Buckingham landowners are scheduled to close sales of their property-sales that will total about $40 million. The land is being bought by Wen-Clay International and Block Shim Inc., two Dallas development companies that bumped into each other while scouting the area for land acquisitions. Various developers had been trying to persuade home-owners to sell for several years before the joint venture team of Wen-Clay and Block Shim stepped in. A year ago, giant Lincoln Property Co. (LPC) offered each Buckingham homeowner about $3 per square foot for his property, but LPC was turned down.
Then the joint venture company made an offer that most homeowners couldn’t refuse: $6 per square foot. When the deals close this month, most landowners will walk away with about $550,000, leaving the developers with about 130 acres of prime North Dallas property.
In some ways, Buckingham won’t change. Town aldermen and a mayor will still run the community. But the developers have big plans (still very conceptual) for Buckingham, a town that is now zoned solely as single-family residential. The estates will make way for a large development with four major uses: offices, single-family dwellings, commercial (retail and restaurant use) and multifamily dwellings. The largest percentage of the land is slated for office use. Developers have agreed to pay nearly $3 million for road improvements in and around Buckingham.
The redevelopment of Buckingham may bring about another change: the sale of liquor. Buckingham is currently a dry area, but developers recently obtained enough signatures on a petition to call for a vote on the liquor issue.
Obtaining a liquor-by-the-drink ordinance may be simple, but the ramifications aren’t. Richardson is dry (liquor by the drink in private clubs only), and it’s likely that Richardson residents will want Buckingham-located in the heart of their city-to be dry as well. To redevelop Buckingham, water and sewage utilities must be obtained from an out-side source (a small sewage facility is currently used in Buckingham). Because of its proximity, the most logical source is Richardson. The Richardson City Council can deny the use of those utilities.
Richardson City Manager Bob Hughey says that his city won’t approve utilities use until he sees a concrete plan for the proposed development, with clear density figures and statistics on the amount of water that would be needed from Richardson. Steven Torrance, development manager for the Buckingham redevelopment, says that Richardson officials will see a project plan by the first of this month and that land sales will be closed by the end of the month, with construction beginning by early spring. Hughey says that if the plan is submitted as scheduled and if Richardson officials ap-prove the plan, the earliest the utilities could be granted would be six weeks after receiving the plan. And, he says, if there are any flaws in the plan, approval could take six months to a year.
Torrance says that the land sales will be closed this month with or without utilities approval from Richardson. At least one attorney for Buckingham residents is standing by- just in case problems arise.