The City Plan Commission will be briefed on The Trailhead mixed–use rezone request Thursday morning (April 22, 2021) and then hold a public hearing in the afternoon when citizens in support or opposition of the project can be heard.

Developer Mill Creek Residential has proposed a 305-unit apartment building with 13,000 square feet of commercial space at the former locations of The Lot and Local Traveler. The briefing from city staff will begin at 10 a.m. and the public hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. There are other items on the agenda before The Trailhead, so the case (Z201-139) discussion will begin 30-90 minutes after the meeting has started.

The public hearing will take place via WebEx at this link.  The morning briefing and afternoon public hearing can also be viewed on Spectrum channel 96 or 99, this City Hall link or the City of Dallas YouTube channel. Citizens wishing to speak at the public hearing can register online with the City here. Registration to speak must be made before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Comments are limited to three minutes.

For every rezone request made to the City of Dallas, the staff of the Sustainable Development Department makes a recommendation to Plan Commission members. The staff has recommended approval for The Trailhead but sets certain conditions to make the approval stick.

The conditions for approval can be read in the case report from the Plan Commission agenda starting on page 243. Traffic and building height are at the core of neighborhood opposition, and many of the conditions for approval center around those two issues.

Additional traffic considerations include shared access with the adjacent owner for the west drive into the property, limiting east drive to ingress only, fire lane changes and upgrades to the 3G design for pedestrian improvements.

A condition for staff approval also sets a limit of 70 feet and six stories in height, compared to Mill Creek’s request for 80 feet and seven stories. The staff has no argument with the requested number of 305 units, just the height of the proposed structure.

The staff also recommends another 5 feet in front yard setback and an adjustment in the affordable housing requirement to 51-60 percent of area median family income from the proposed 61-80 percent.

The staff notes in its recommendation that the project is consistent with the ForwardDallas! Comprehensive Plan and The Garland Road Vision Study Plan.

A staff recommendation is a positive for Mill Creek. The alternative of a denial would present a difficult path, perhaps insurmountable. Can the mixed-use developer accept the conditions of staff’s approval?

“We certainly appreciate the city staff’s approval of The Trailhead development after months of ongoing dialogue and productive feedback,” said Michael Blackwell, senior managing director of Mill Creek.

“While there remain a couple of items on which we disagree, the broader analysis and recommended approval by staff reflects the quality of the vision from a technical planning perspective. Those technical merits are important, and they underpin how thoughtful development can achieve smart growth — especially when it is respectful of context, sensitive to the environment and forward-thinking about traffic and mobility.”

Did the conditions for approval go far enough for the neighborhood opposition?

“The conditions recommended for approval of rezoning to accommodate the proposed development are a step in the right direction, but we remain very concerned about the precedent this will set for future development in this neighborhood,” said Leslie Hearn of Save the White Rock Skyline.

“The density of this project is more than double anything else in this area and is too large for the property. A square peg is being forced into a round hole in order to meet Mill Creek’s business model and to avoid the ‘threat’ of less desirable projects on the property like fast food or a pharmacy.

“If the Planning Commission and City Council approve this, the standard for denial of zoning changes like this one will have been raised significantly, and we can expect a proliferation of mid- and high-rise, high-density developments. This is about more than this one development or promised improvements to the Santa Fe Trail.”

The Friends of the Santa Fe Trail previously announced support of the project.

Once the 15-member Plan Commission votes, next stop for developer Mill Creek and opposition group Save the White Rock Skyline will be the Dallas City Council, where a final vote will be cast in favor or denial.

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