Residents of East Dallas neighborhoods heard presentations and asked questions about the proposed multi-family project for the Shoreline Church site.
The April 12 meeting was coordinated by the Lochwood Neighborhood Association.
Both developer Ojala Holdings and Lochwood neighborhood leadership came with PowerPoints to educate and persuade the 125 people in attendance. In the audience was District 9 Council member Paula Blackmon, District 9 Plan Commissioner Michael Jung, Garland Road Vision Committee member Gerry Worral, Dallas Public Facilities Corporation Board members Mary Poss and Ken Montgomery and longtime Casa View leader Mike Nurre.
Daniel Smith, a managing director at Ojala, said they were in a period of community discussion and that City Plan Commission and City Council meetings for this project were anticipated to be during the summer months. He noted that Ojala has been watching redevelopment along the Garland Road Corridor and that Shoreline approached them (and other multi-family developers) directly, not the other way around.
Smith presented the current version of the site plan for The Standard Shoreline shown below:
Shoreline site plan.
The plan shows approximately 295 units in four stories wrapped around a parking garage. There are also 18 two-story for-rent townhomes adjacent to the four-story structure. A detention area and open space occupy the northwest portion of the site. Ingress and egress are planned using the existing curb cuts on Garland Road.
Ojala intends to provide a 3,000-square-foot space facing Garland Road to local artists for work and gallery space.
Other amenities will be typical for new construction — coffee bar, tenant lounge, coworking areas, fitness center and a pool.
Smith presented stats regarding the traffic impact of multi-family versus other product types, making his case that multi-family generates fewer trips than retail or office. He also shared available capacity at local schools to show that there is room for children of The Standard Shoreline’s residents.
Under new programs initiated by the City of Dallas, 51% of the units will be set aside for residents that make 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Smith stressed that these units will be exactly like the market-rate units, and the target income levels for these tenants are $50,000-$71,000. Typical discounts from market-rate units for residents who qualify are $200-600 per unit.
Scott Robson, a longtime president of Lochwood Neighborhood Association, said part of the deal is for the City to take title to the land (not the building) and provide a 75-year property tax abatement. That brought a response from the taxpayers in the audience.
“Shame on my city,” said a resident who didn’t give her name. “As a single girl, I can hardly afford to pay my house taxes.” She suggested a tax break for residents on Yorkmont Circle, sort of a reparation solution for living next to the development.
Lochwood neighbor Daniel Gonzales asked a question about compliance and how the City enforces the affordable housing component. Ken Montgomery, the District 9 appointee to the Public Facilities Corporation, said the City has a big hammer. If the owner doesn’t follow the agreement of setting aside 51% of the units for residents with 80% of the AMI, the City can take title to the buildings and assume ownership.
Robson also addressed building height and said according to the Garland Road Vision Study, new residential or mixed-use developments should be no more than three stories.
“Please know that we are not opposed to development, but if it is inconsistent with the City plan and not compatible with surrounding neighborhoods, it needs to be changed,” Robson said.
Robson pointed to four other apartment complexes in the area, all two stories high. He also contrasted the density of the Shoreline proposal of 43 units per acre with the recent approval of the project to replace the Garland Road Thrift store at a density of 17 units per acre.
He then made an emotional plea to Shoreline’s “sense of Christian conscious and duty” to “end the strife and offense that this project has caused” and “love thy neighbor as yourself.”
Thomas Buck, the communications and sponsorships director for the Lochwood Neighborhood Association, said the issue is not with the affordable housing or with the tenants who would live there.
“We are being asked to accept a four-story, 310 unit-complex that will be visually intrusive, create an invasion of privacy, increase noise and light pollution and have guest parking problems,” Buck said. “Our neighbors are getting a raw deal.”
Ojala intends to contract with Roscoe Property Management, which has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.
“Not a good look for Ojala,“ Buck said.
During the Q&A, there were more opinions than questions from the audience, although a question from a Lochwood neighbor directed to a Shoreline representative in the crowd provided time for the church to address the attendees.
“We have been part of this East Dallas community for 10 years,” said Daniel Poku, who has served on the Shoreline staff and is a real estate professional. “We started at CCM, moved to the Angelika Theater, occupied what is now Town North Bible Church and moved to Garland Road as we continued to grow. This tract of land is not big enough to handle our growth. Highland Oaks Church of Christ has agreed to sell their building, which will be 3-4 times the size of our current building. At the end of the day, we needed to move.”
When asked whether they considered selling to another church, Poku responded, “We prayed about it, we thought about, and we made the best decision for the church.”
“We want to leave a legacy for the community,” Poku said. “We absolutely think this is a high-quality project.”
A Casa View neighbor asked about a traffic-impact analysis. Although the initial application by Ojala did not include a traffic study, Smith said the study will be completed soon.
Residents living on Yorkmont Circle, directly adjacent to the project, said they are concerned about lighting and security. Smith offered a few solutions, including planting trees, locating the townhomes to block a portion of the lighting and installing a gate with unique access code features.
Eastwood neighbors struggle with flooding and are worried about runoff. Smith said the one-acre detention pond will help mitigate flooding.
The fulcrum issue seems to be building height. With 10 minutes left in the meeting, Robson asked Smith, “How do you address four stories looking into neighbors’ bedrooms and back yards? How do you answer the million dollar question?”
“It’s a multi-faceted solution,” Smith answered. Trees, two-story buildings and an eight-foot privacy fence will help block the line of sight.
There is no scheduled date for the City Plan Commission to hold a public hearing and vote on the rezone. The Advocate will continue to follow this story.