Mill Creek Residential, a national multifamily developer with a substantial Texas presence, has contracted to buy The Lot and Local Traveler sites for conversion to a mixed-use development branded as The Trailhead.

The Lot and Local Traveler restaurants, located at the Gaston, Garland, Grand intersection, closed permanently during the pandemic. Sharing a property line, the two sites total 3.88 acres.

The Lot site is zoned mixed use, and the Local Traveler site carries a community retail zoning. Mill Creek has filed a re-zoning case with the City of Dallas proposing to combine the sites under a planned development classification that would allow construction of about 320 apartment units and between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet of commercial space — a combination of retail and office space depending on forecasted demand.

The land is at the confluence of three City Council districts — Paula Blackmon’s District 9, Dave Blewett’s District 14 and Adam Medrano’s District 2, where the property is located. Mayor Eric Johnson likely drives by the property to and from City Hall from his home in Forest Hills. The property is down the street from the Dallas Arboretum and adjacent to the Santa Fe Trail.

Navigating these different constituencies during the rezoning process will be challenging.

“We have assembled a team of designers and consultants from the neighborhood,” says Michael Blackwell, senior managing director of Mill Creek. “We, together with the sellers, are East Dallas people who were also fond of The Lot and Local Traveler and who use the lake and the trails daily. We want to do something special, unique, upscale and mixed use that would only work right there.”

Multifamily builders have focused on transit-oriented developments in Dallas and other markets. Blackwell substitutes “trail” for “transit” in a nod to the site’s location next to the Santa Fe Trail.

The Trailhead will be a trail-oriented development “about the Santa Fe Trail and the connections to the broader system — including White Rock and Trinity Forest — to celebrate, engage, support, encourage and treat it like a great street,” he says.

Mill Creek Residential has significant experience in developing mid- and high-rise multifamily in Dallas locations. Under its Modera brand, Mill Creek has developed Modera Hall, Modera Howell, Modera Uptown and the under-construction Modera Katy Trail. View Mill Creek’s past projects in Dallas and other markets here.

City staff and plan commission meetings are anticipated to begin in late January or early February. Adjacent landowners will be notified of public meetings, and Mill Creek is sure to hold neighborhood gatherings as they seek support for the rezone. Now that the case is filed, the City will soon post the developer’s submittals here.

So many dynamics are woven into this land-use question — density, height, affordability, architecture, scale, traffic, trails, topography, unique neighborhoods, multiple councilpersons, multiple plan commissioners, adjacent uses and what is allowed “by right” today.  Buckle up.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.