Image courtesy of Open Realty Advisors

A contentious City Council meeting led to the postponement of a vote on the proposed development of an empty Henderson Avenue lot.

Open Realty Advisor’s plan for developing the area is years in the making, but developer Mark Masinter will need to wait until March to see a vote on the project.

The proposed development includes 100,000 square feet of office space and 82,100 square feet of retail space, green space, rooftop gardens and restaurants that don’t exceed 12,000 square feet. The plan also incorporates an underground parking garage with 754 spaces.

Image courtesy of Open Realty Advisors

After getting approval from the majority of respondents in the area and the thumbs up from the City Plan Commission, it looked like the project might become a reality.

But on Dec. 14, several speakers showed up to protest the development, noting that its size and density would make an already congested Henderson Avenue untenable.

“Imagine standing on Knox, looking at the Apple store and all that development. Now plop it in the middle of two-lane Henderson Avenue,” said preservationist and neighborhood resident Virginia McAlester.

Fonya Mondell, who lives off Henderson and made a documentary about gentrification and change in the area, was also opposed to the development. “This is shockingly inconsistent with the surrounding community,” she said.

Proponents for the project outnumbered the opposition speakers, but their time began with a testy exchange between Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Public Relations maven Sarah Dodd began setting up a video of neighbors singing the praises of the project, but Rawlings interrupted. “I want to talk to human beings,” he said.

After some negotiating, the video’s audio played, with neighbors describing the benefits of the development to the neighborhood and Dallas.

Masinter said the street had the potential to be one of the most “appealing and wonderful streets in America.”

Other neighbors and proponents discussed the Open Realty’s outreach efforts, and the way the project would improve the lots’ busted sidewalks and uneven street.

In the end, Philip Kingston moved to table the issue until March 28. He wants to keep working with the developer and stakeholders to find a compromise between the opposing sides. Kingston said that the current zoning was appropriate, but “the reason to change it would be that there could be something better.”

Kingston said he wants to get “closer to something that looks like what everybody wants.” He suggested “stretching our imaginations to see the good in new proposals and find a project that everyone can feel good about.”

Adam Medrano, in whose district the lot sits, said he counts friends on both sides of the disagreement. “I don’t want to see neighbors against neighbors,” he said. “I have never lost sleep over a case, but this has done it.”

Before the council voted, Rawlings noted that Henderson will become a complete street with 2012 bond money, designed to improve traffic and flow issues. The council will take up the development again on March 28.

See more renderings of the project below:

Image courtesy of Open Realty Advisors

Image courtesy of Open Realty Advisors

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