The ‘Frisco on the Lake’ concept for Gaston-Garland? ‘Better, but not special’

“It’s just too bad that — unlike seemingly every other builder in the city — Lincoln isn’t asking for a big handout to build a fancy, new mixed-use (retail and residential) project on what the City has previously identified as the gateway to White Rock Lake. … Here’s a site that most taxpayers probably wouldn’t mind seeing subsidized a bit because of the immediate impact it would have on development to the north, east and south.”

That was Advocate president Rick Wamre in his post last week about Lincoln Property’s Co.’s plans for Gaston-Garland-East Grand. Wamre also noted that he has done his share of complaining of taxpayer-subsidized retail projects in Dallas.

The best example of this was Wamre’s diatribes against Downtown’s convention center hotel. (Dallas voters didn’t agree with him, instead opting to pay for the hotel.) And in April 2009, in response to the city’s May referendum asking voters to approve $500 million in revenue bonds that would pay for a hotel Downtown, we published a story imagining how the city might instead use one-fifth of that money to redevelop a an intersection in our neighborhood.

Gaston Garland East Grand rendering AlstonWhere did we choose to focus our hypothetical $100 million investment? None other than Gaston-Garland-East Grand. Norman Alston of Norman Alston Architects, who is a Hollywood-Santa Monica resident, gave us his vision for that intersection along with a rendering so we could visualize it, too. (Click on it for a larger view. You’ll note that it looks a little different than Lincoln’s plans, based on Steve Brown’s DMN write-up. Those renderings and plans announced at last summer’s neighborhood meeting are all the information we have; several Advocate staffers have placed several calls to Lincoln Property Co., and none of those calls have been returned.)

Alston’s ideas were similar to Wamre’s — five to six stories of mixed-use development, with 200 units of housing and about 250,000 square feet of retail and office space. Reworking the intersection was part of his idea, too, as well as pedestrian bridges spanning Gaston so that people living nearby wouldn’t have to brave traffic to cross to one side or the other.

We called Alston after last week’s semi-reveal of Lincoln’s plans, and asked what he thought, given that he had given it quite a bit of thought four years ago. For starters, he didn’t think “Arboretum Village,” as Lincoln has proposed calling it, is an apt description.

“They should have called the complex ‘Frisco on the Lake,’ ” Alston says. “I’ve done retail in the past, and this is pretty much what we were doing in 1983. That site could contribute so much more than a parking lot out front and big–box and small-box buildings in the back.”

Because that property “has been down so long and been such a problem for so long, it’s exciting to have something else happen there,” Alston acknowledges. But being that it’s “kind of the gateway to East Dallas,” he says he’s disappointed.

“It’s right next to wildlife preserve, right near the trail — all of these things combined make it such an important pivotal location, and I had always hoped something would be done there to play that up and expand on that site’s natural advantages,” Alston says. “What I see from what’s been posted, that’s not going to happen.”

The thing is, Alston notes, once Lincoln updates the site, it won’t change for years, probably decades.

“They’re going to put a lot of money into it, and no one else is probably going to come in in my lifetime” and redo it, he says. “This is kind of the one shot we have for a long time to do something special there. I think it’s better, but I don’t think it’s special.”

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  • The Truth

    These are the same people who let QT build the gateway to our neighborhood. QT built is within two weeks, and people had no time to react. Lincoln does not have that luxury, and everyone wants to tell them how to develop the property.

    Remember Belle Nora? No one wanted to buy the property because a group of people wanted the potential new owner to consult them about how to remodel it. Tearing it down would have placed the owner at the top of the “Most wanted in east Dallas” list. Belle Nora sold for less than land value because of these issues.

    People love to tell other people what to do with their money and property.

  • amc

    It seems pretty simple.  Lincoln wants to make money.  As a neighbor, I know the kind of places where I’d spend my money.  At some point, these two concepts do intersect, at least a little bit.  Will a remodeled strip mall be profitable?  Yawn, probably.  Will a fantastic gateway to the lake and to the neighborhood be profitable?  Possibly, but it will cost more and take longer.  I know which one I’d rather live by.

  • Rick Wamre

    Wilson!, you seem as opinionated as usual; no problem with that as far as I’m concerned. In fact, that’s what these forums do best — bring out ideas and let people consider other possibilities. I think that’s what happening here, too, with the suggestions for Lincoln. I know that we have said in just about every post and article that Lincoln owns the property and can do what they want. But like you have an opinion about what people think, what’s the harm in the rest of us offering up a few ideas for the property? It’s not as if Lincoln is going to be paying any attention anyway.

  • Wilson!

    What happened to freedom and responsibility? Dallas is usually such a bastion of these ideals. 

    Except when it comes to what someone wants to do with property they own or have a stake in.  Then, all of a sudden, everyone around them turns in to a socialist.  How dare you develop that land the way you want?  Why didn’t you ask me first?  The neighborhood knows best, you should do what we want, nevermind what your studies and research tells you.

    If any of these people whining about what Lincoln wants to do have a Tea Party sticker on their soccer-mommy-mobile, they should be ashamed.  

  • Los_Politico

    Re: the Village.
    Lincoln describes itself as, “Lincoln Property Company was founded in 1965
    for the purpose of building and operating quality residential
    communities”. How does a retail strip mall fit in with that? And can you
    see how this facelift to a strip mall surprised people?

    You guys keep aggressively
    shouting “you buy it!”. Well, ok. Is Lincoln putting it up for sale?
    Short of that your thoughtless challenges are empty words. Yeah, I took
    microeconomics 101, too.

    If you, as a
    neighbor or potential neighbor, think this project has fundamental merits or
    will in someway improve the area, by all means share those points. We all
    welcome thoughtful and productive discourse. But coming here to shout down the
    opinions of people with a stake in the neighborhood is a worthless use of time.

  • OnTheWhip

    Just like they did with The Village, right? Yeah. They’re infamous for flipping properties for a quick buck. Not. LPC has proven over the years to be a responsible RE developer and manager. Like someone else said, “You want to control the direction? Buy it yourself.”

    Haters gonna hate. 

  • Me

    Frisco on the lake what a horrid idea! That’s no way to sell the concept to east dallasites. I live here because I hate frisco.

  • Rick Wamre

    Thanks for posting, Truth. Since you seem to have some inside knowledge, I’d be interested in some of your more detailed thoughts on the project. For example, how do you know that the project as envisioned appeals to a large percentage of residents and how do you know that anything other than what Lincoln has talked about doing won’t be successful, as you just mentioned? We’ve certainly done our best to get Lincoln viewpoint straight from the source, but we haven’t received a return phone call yet after quite a few tries.

  • Los_Politico

    They don’t teach much urban theory at Cox do they?

  • Los_Politico

    This is just new frosting on the moldy bread. I still don’t want moldy bread.

  • Los_Politico

    I imagine your employer defines “success” differently than I would (for one). A quick buck in a likely flip to an out of state company will make far less overall than a mixed-use build from the ground up. But that takes a time commitment that Lincoln has deemed Lakewood unworthy of.

    And this isn’t second guessing it’s “first guessing”. The article in question was written almost 4 years ago.

  • OnTheWhip

    It’s inevitable. You replace moldy bread with some luscious cake and someone will say, “But I wanted chocolate!”

  • The Truth

    Pure genius. Do nothing, and let it rot.

  • The Truth

    What is your idea/proposal? Feel free to include customer demographics, spending, financial projections, return on investment etc.

  • The Truth

    It is so easy to second guess what another person or company is trying to accomplish. Lincoln has to make the development successful, and make money. If they appeal to the naysayers, they will have a development that appeals to a very small percentage of people, and the project will not be successful.

  • Hrmusic

    Ugly, too big, not White Rock

  • amc

    Trolls aside, yep they paid a lot of money for the site, and they deserve to get a good return. I’m thankful that they are investing in our community, but how best to respectfully encourage them to consider other options? The Advocate articles have good ideas for this spot with so much potential.

  • Blevy

     I would if I could.  But alas, I don’t have the money.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize and be unhappy about squandered potential.

  • Los_Politico

    new trolls!

  • Pingback: The 'Frisco on the Lake' concept for Gaston-Garland? 'Better, but not … | Your Lake Gaston Vacation()

  • tcox009

    Let me second that comment, If you don’t like what they are planning buy it yourself and then build your version of East Dallas

  • jnw32

     Raise a bunch of money, buy it, and then put your money where your mouth is.

  • Los_Politico

    “once Lincoln updates the site, it won’t change for years, probably decades.”

    This is the real problem. At this point I’d rather see them do nothing (maybe kick out the dance club) and let it go to rot. At least then it’d be affordable space for wacky ideas.

  • Blevy

    Agreed. so short sighted of Lincoln that it is hard to fathom.  So much potential, being squandered.  The city should try to intervene here to pressure Lincoln to rethink its plans.

  • amc

    Many neighbors agree with you and would like to see a better plan. What’s the best way to organize and accomplish this?